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Sub Culture is one of the best examples of the potential capabilities of a fast, 3D accelerated PC. The unique story creates an awesome underwater environment, while the 3D graphics and physics engine keep movement smooth and realistic. Unfortunately, the game's awkward controls make for some difficulty in maneuvering, thus taking away from the overall enjoyment of the game.
The story is one like you've never heard before, and does an excellent job creating a one-of-a-kind game environment. Down in the depths of the ocean, there is an underwater world just like ours, except for the fact that the people are no larger than one centimeter. You play Bubba Kosh, an ocean prospector, who is torn between the two opposing powers of this world: the Procha and Bohine. Acting as a gun for hire, the player travels around this world in a very small submarine, looking for goods and work. This underwater world consists of a number of cities, a refinery and different landmarks (underwater marks?). It is also littered with valuable trash from the human world. For example: cigarette buts, cans, bottle caps. This nonlinear game embraces another commendable aspect: the idea that the player is free to do whatever he/she wants.
There are a number of different add-ons that the player can buy for his/her ship. From basic necessities like a magnet, and shield strength to more complex objects like an escape pod, missiles and depth charges. The missions are well designed and require new items so the player can get experience using these different objects.
The game is divided into a number of stages, which are then in turn divided into a number of missions. When not engaged in a mission, the player is free to travel around and get money (by finding goods, buying goods, and then selling them for a higher price).
Back to the missions: Sub Culture consists of four different stages. As the player finishes different missions, the story progresses. (Note: if you want the story to be a surprise, skip the rest of this paragraph). In "Trade or Die" the player learns how to use its ship and gets a feel for the map. In "Battle for Supremacy" the player can work for either side in their war against each other. The "Cold War" is the height of the Bohine/Procha wars. Finally, in "Save the World" the now peaceful Bohine and Procha must unite against a larger force. There are no set missions that must done in a certain order. Also, the player can choose to take a mission either with the Bohine or the Procha, and by completing a mission for one side, it will raise the player's status with that side, but lower it for the other.
The graphics are just awesome. The engine does an excellent job of rendering the water to slowly reveal the visibility of objects (as opposed to the unrealistic popup method). Also, the refraction of light is noticeable in the "waviness" (for lack of a technical term) of the water. Light rays sometimes penetrate the surface and often the player will experience yet another cool effect: the lens flares. Sub Culture also implements a day and night cycle. As the game progresses, the overall light source will change to create day, night, and all the gradations in between. Nearly all the objects within the world, including the world itself (i.e. walls, caves etc.), have reasonably high polygon counts and fluid movements. A 3D accelerator is mandatory to achieve the full graphical potential. Otherwise, resolutions over 320X200 can get choppy, especially on slower machines, and the game will definitely not look as good or run as smooth.
The sounds are pretty good. The CD has a plethora of different tracks, ranging from a soothing, calming tune, to an adrenaline pumping music played when you're on that last vital mission.
The only really difficult aspect of Sub Culture is the controls. The direction keys tilt/rotate your ship different directions, and the player has the ability to move forward, backward, up and down. This lends some difficulty when trying to maneuver around or battle with other ships. And there is always a feel of never really having complete "control" over the ship.
Sub Culture is a great graphical game for those with a higher-end system and a 3D accelerator. The story is interesting, the game play is unique and the only major flaw is that awkward control that takes a little getting used to. So c'mon in! The water's fine.