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|A.P.I Review:||TREASURES OF THE DEEP|
|Developer:||Black Ops for Namco||OPTIONS:||
No.1 No.2 No.3
|Game Type:||Adventure/Shooter||Memory Card|
|Review Date:||July 1998||Dual Shock Analog|
Setting the Scene
It was almost a year ago when I first heard about Treasures of the Deep and to be honest I didn't give it a second thought. After all, with a title like that I assumed it must surely be another of those underwater educational games in the same vein as the rather crap Aquanauts Holiday (see Rapid Reviews). Twelve months later when the final code appeared on my desk I once again gave it the cold shoulder and duly slotted it into the non-priority pile along with Bust-a-Move Dance, Whizz and Bass Sea Fishing. Something else always seemed to take preference until eventually it could cross my eyes no longer and into the PSX it went. Imagine the surprise when my reaction was similar to having your arm twisted to go to a movie that you don't really fancy and discovering that it is a sleeping contender for Movie of the Year. You play the part of Jack Runyan, an ex-navy seal who has become a free-lance underwater treasure hunter. Your main objective is to complete 14 varied missions at several world locations. Along the way, you are free to pick up as much gold as you want and once a mission is complete you can use your booty to buy more weapons, equipment, and even upgrade your sub. You can further boost your finances by capturing rare sea creatures in nets. Are you prepared to explore inside dark caves, deep caverns, shark-infested waters, and even sunken crafts such as ships and airplanes? If so then slap on your rubbers and prepare to take the plunge with Namco's remarkable new underwater adventure - Treasures of the Deep.
Treasures of the Deep is a mission based underwater adventure which doubles up as a rather good shoot-em-up. Prepare to travel the world for the 14 treasure-hunting missions that take you from under the Polar Ice Caps to the mysterious Bermuda Triangle. Explore the breathtaking underwater environment, which is realistic in every detail. Every environment has an array of sea creatures such as hammerhead sharks in the Gulf of Mexico, seals under the frozen caps and killer whales in the northwest.
Treasures of the Deep features some of the most incredible underwater graphics ever seen on the Playstation. The opening CG scenes would be more suitable as a trailer for a blockbuster James Bond movie rather than an adventure video game. Imagine the scene. A lonely diver clings onto his single-seat underwater frogman vehicle (that's what they call it). As he glides through the murky waters past shoals of rare tropical fish a hammerhead shark moves a little too close for comfort. A slight change of direction and a short burst on the accelerator steers him towards the bottom of the ocean where he discovers the remains of an aging warplane. A large treasure chest lies semi-buried among the wreckage and just as he approaches to net his find a torpedo narrowly shaves his underwater vehicle and explodes in the rocks ahead. He quickly turns to face his perpetrators - two fully armed mini-subs. Immediately he launches a counterattack and moves directly towards their blinding headlights. A press of a button and his weapon system automatically locks onto one of the subs. KA-POW! A direct hit takes out one of the enemy subs with the mammoth explosion downing the other. It's back to base for a well-earned rest and all before the game has begun. In-game the underwater effects are equally as stunning. In fact if ever a game justifies the use of an invulnerability cheat code then Treasures is the one. Quite often you are too busy fending off attacks from enemy frogmen, rival subs and a wide range of frightening underwater beasties to enjoy the more pleasurable visuals on display. The entire 3D playing area is alive with creatures of all description - giant sea turtles, lobsters, dolphins, manta rays, almighty whales and schools of tropical fish. They all move about in a lifelike way changing direction with the current before disappearing into the murky depths. There is little evidence of pixilation but it does occasionally appear when investigating the close confines of a sunken wreck. All around a clouded effect has been intelligently used to keep the frame rate up and avoid pop-up but rather than become a distraction it actually adds to the creepy atmosphere. I found the most admirable effect to be the use of light sourcing. When navigating through a network of spooky tunnels and caverns the headlight beam from your sub only lights up the immediate area. Firing your weapons into the darkness ahead gradually brightens up the surrounding cave walls with the effect following the route of your missile until it gradually disappears into the distance. Tomb Raider 2 style flares may also be used to drop down pitch-black areas to check out their depth and contents. Weapon effects are equally impressive. When missiles strikes their intended target the screen is filled with a blinding flash of yellow/orange light while a direct hit with a harpoon on a frogman or shark will show small clouds of blood seeping from their flesh before gradually diluting into the sea water. The game may be viewed from a first person perspective or above and behind your sub.
Sounds and Effects
Ever since I first loaded up Treasures of the Deep I have been racking my brains trying to think what the music reminded me of. It finally came to me - Batman the Movie. In fact it is all a little too close for comfort if you ask my opinion. What's even more remarkable is that it works perfectly. Moody, atmospheric, at times haunting, but always strangely relaxing. After suffering from a barrage of scratch, disco and techno crap over the last few weeks this was heaven sent. The sound effects include everything one could wish for in an underwater game. The ever present bubbling sound of your diver breathing in through an oxygen mouthpiece and then exhaling out into the water. Every collision has that dull sound attached which can only be experienced while underwater. Try sticking your head in the bathwater and tapping on the side of the bath - know what I mean? Apart from the reddish blood mist you soon know when a rather nasty shark or a divers harpoon is attacking you because the now shaking screen is accompanied by the sound of glass cracking under the strain. This certainly raises the alarm. Each direct hit weakens the screen of your sub which, unless evasive action is quickly taken, will eventually shatter, drowning your diver in the process. Occasionally you will wander into a school of dolphins, which can be netted for cash rewards. Their haunting cries can be distinctly heard as you move closer, allowing you time to prepare a trap.
Time to submerge. The main idea behind Treasures of the Deep is to successfully complete all 14 missions. However if you think that by charging straight towards your main objective will lead to rapid success then you are in for a big shock and probably an early burial at sea. First a word about the controls. Depending on your preferences I would advice the use of the analog control pad as using both of the sticks allows complete control of your craft. These two little knobs move you up, down, 360°, strafe, forward and backwards leaving the face buttons to activate weapons. Don't worry if you do not have one of these joypads (shame on you) as strafe can be configured onto the top two shoulder buttons with the bottom two used to select weapons (just like underwater Doom). Unfortunately the game is not dual shock compatible but I suppose if it had been then maybe it would have lost that smooth, soothing underwater feel that is plainly evident. Before you launch into your training mission you may take the time to browse around the diving shop. Here you may purchase a selection of weapons, an assortment of equipment and a brand new sub. Unfortunately there will be little that is affordable until you take a few dives to collect some treasure but you can always press your face against the window and take a look-sey. On the weapons front there are missiles, mines, torpedoes and nets. Yep, you heard me right... net's. These are an ingenious multi-purpose device that allows you to collect items and remove certain hazards. On your way to a mission why not take time out and net a few rare species of fish. Dolphins and turtles bring in large cash rewards. Nets are also used to salvage items from shipwrecks. Simply fire a net at the intended target and it will wrap around the item and rise to the surface via a small floating balloon. Nets can also be used as a weapon to capture sharks, eels and those pesky frogmen. Once trapped they will float to the surface and be removed from the game. Equipment comes in the form of armored wet suits, health packs, spare air tanks, flares, night vision goggles and a ROV - Remote Operated Vehicle that allows you to scan the area ahead before following in relative safety. The subs are rated by depth class and in order to enter the deeper missions you will require a sub that's up to spec. Subs are rated on the basis of agility, armor, speed and payload. All missions are varied and involve a wide range of topics: * An airplane crashes in the Bermuda Triangle and it is your mission to net all of the dead bodies before collecting important equipment from the submerged aircraft. * During the Nazi occupation of Italy a last gasp effort was made to fly stolen gold to North Africa for hiding. You will be carrying a time bomb to open a passageway to the location of the German cargo plane. * Explore the Aztec tribes' underwater tombs for priceless artifacts protected by a serious of deadly traps. * The Iranians have sabotaged one of the tightest oil shipping bottlenecks in the world. They have saturated the area with mines and damaged the oil wells. Detonate the mines and cap the oil wells. So there you have it. An underwater adventure shoot-em-up where you collect treasure and capture sea creatures in order to make money. This is then re-invested into equipment and weapons to allow you to carry out the more difficult missions. On each level there are special hidden items like grail's, swords, and sections of a stone tablet. If you collect all the sections of the stone tablet, the secret Atlantis level can be unlocked. Treasures of the Deep has an excellent learning curve which allows you to gradually gain in confidence before the more difficult missions arrive. The player is allowed three continues to help them through each mission.
Value for Money
If you enjoyed the underwater scenes in both of the Tomb Raider adventures then you will have a ball with this title. It is aimed more for the shoot-em-up fan than the strategy buff but then wasn't Tomb Raider 2 that way inclined. The missions are wide and varied and with each level having several secrets to unveil the playback value should be good.
most surprising thing about Treasures of the Deep is that it comes from
Namco. What isn't surprising is that they once again come out tops when
providing Playstation gamers with high quality titles.
Don't make the mistake that I almost did and expect this title to be just another educational underwater game. It's not. It's a gripping adventure that is well presented, graphically superb and features a soundtrack that will lift you onto a higher level.
Now if everyone is ready... take a deep breath and... one... two... three... SPLOOSH!