Written by Charlie Sinhaseni on 12/31/2002 for Xbox  
More On: SeaBlade
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.The missions are all too repetitive, taking place in far too few environments. Basically you'll be thrust into an environment and in that closed environment, will have to complete a handful of missions. Due to the lack of change of scenery, the missions feel all too similar and since they're already bland to begin with, it's definitely another negative that the game could have done without.

I expected the game to excel in the visuals department if anything, after all, the folks at Simon and Schuster are well known for producing visuals and graphics for other companies, graphics are definitely their bag. They flexed their muscles in Outlaw Golf but it seems like they shot their entire wad, resulting in some less than stellar visuals. The problem with the graphics is that everything looks so generic and interchangeable, definitely not what you'd expect from the people who made OG. There are a few nice special effects strewn about but much like the buildings, crafts, scenery and landscapes, it's all too vaguely familiar, almost as if they were lifted from another title.

Even the pre-rendered scenes are a bit too bland for my tastes. They are populated by over the top characters that look like they wouldn't be out of place in a Saturday morning 3D rendered show. Again, they're a bit too bland and don't feature much detail or substance. They're serviceable for what they're worth though but much like the rest of the game's visuals, they just can't compete with what the best of the Xbox has to offer. To make matters worse the load times are just atrocious for what you're provided with.

Why the low score? Simple, this game isn't very fun. If it's not one thing then it's always something else. When you're not griping over the poor control layout you'll be upset about the inane sim-style gameplay. This is the type of game that's better suited for the all-out, over-the-top with the guns-blazing sort of gameplay, not sim-styled, few hits and you're dead sort of gameplay. You'll find yourself dying far too often and when you're not dying, falling asleep from the lackluster mission structure and variety. It's all too much the same and because there is no where to go, the game tends to continue in a downward spiral from mediocre level into the depths of the bargain bins.
Sub-par in every single respect, yea it’s got decent visuals but who cares, it’s just not any fun. Get this for those who have been ‘naughty’ this year.

Rating: 4.5 Heavily Flawed

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

About Author

Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.

It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.

It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.

When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."

As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.

When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.

Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile

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