SeaBlade

Review

posted 12/31/2002 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: Xbox
A few years ago there was a game called Tiger Shark, in it you controlled a hydrofoil that had the ability to float on water as well as submerge and go below the surface. It was excellent for what it was, a shooter that allowed you to do battle in two very different and unique environments and while few will remember what it did, it was still an excellent title. Well someone at Simon and Schuster must have picked up a copy of TigerShark because their latest title, SeaBlade bears some striking simularaties but in the end, it fails to be as appealing or entertaining.

What's Seablade exactly? It's a freeflying shooter that places you at the controls of a technologically advanced craft that can manever in the air and under the sea. Why would you need to manuever under the sea exactly? Well you see, someone on the design team had a bit of an addiction to the megadud WaterWorld and much like that film, this game is a major disappointment.

On my initial run through the game I was immediately reminded of Midway's recent update on their classic shooter, Defender. You'll fly around in a craft and for the most part, shoot things and rescue civillians. Where it really differs is in the controls, Seablade features some pretty inane controls that really prevent you from getting in to the action. The left thumbstick controls the orientation of your craft, the right thumbstick is for throttle and the control pad controls the strafing functions, and while it is possible to use the d-pad for the strafing function, it's just a bit too counterintuitive for me. To make matters worse the controls can't be changed to be mapped out to your liking. It's odd, because the game defaults the suppression of the right thumbstick and the pressing of the right trigger for the firing of the weapons. Why not just allow me to use the shoulder buttons to strafe? I spent more time wrestling with the controls if anything, it's a wonder how they ever got past quality control.

I found the gameplay to be quite a strange, while it seems like an all-out over the top arcade shooter, SeaBlade actually plays more like your garden variety flight simulator. If you rush headfirst into the fray your ship will be reduced to scrap metal in a mere matter of seconds. This is due to the fact that the levels are sprinkled with an abundance of gun turrets, many of which will kill you with minimal effort. I found it quite strange that the game seemed to be so sim-heavy, given the nature and theme of the game. I'm flying around in a craft that has unlimited ammo that can pick up iconic powerups that are scattered about the levels, yet a few hits to the hull will bring it down. It's very indicative of what Seablade is really about, a game that tries too hard to be too many things and in the process, doesn't really know what it wants to be.
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