Stuck in the shallows.
Slip into your wet suit, get into your submarine, and prepare to look for sunken treasure. Sounds like a cool idea for a game, doesn’t it? I thought so too, until I played Treasures of the Deep.
While the idea sounds cool, the final product turns out to be just another generic video game. You swim through each level, fighting bad guys and finding floating coins along the way, until you reach the end and recover a sunken treasure. Although you do get to play with a variety of weapons and equipment, each mission turns out basically the same, going through the motions type of task. I find this boring repetition causes the game’s failure.
The game can be played from third or first person perspectives. Offering 14 different missions, you can usually choose between a couple different ones at any point. You can attempt each mission on novice or expert mode. On each level, you try to find a sunken treasure (be it a jewel studded cross, thousands of dollars in gold, or – what I always like – a better game). Along the way, you need to kill or avoid sharks, other ‘bad guy’ divers, and enemy subs using your available weapons and equipment. Also, you can collect floating coins to earn cash, and save endangered species which the enemy divers are trying to capture. Note: Be careful not to kill endangered species, or you will be fined by a mysterious authoritative force (perhaps Microsoft…).
In addition to your particular mission’s sunken treasure, each level has a piece of the mysterious Greek tablet. As the instruction book says, “you never know where they might lead you,” (whatever that means?!?). Before each mission, you choose what equipment to bring, which weapons to carry, which submarine to use, and what color wet suit to wear. Unfortunately, with the exception of the submarine choice, these decisions usually don’t matter because you can always steal weapons and equipment from other divers. The weapons include nets, torpedoes, mines, missiles, and plasma bombs. When using special weapons such as torpedoes and missiles, you first need to lock onto your target, but the game does this for you automatically, taking away some of the challenge. To use the spear gun, you just need to fire in the general direction of your target and pray.
Your equipment ranges from medical kits to ROVs (Remote Operated Vehicles), which you can use to explore dangerous areas without putting yourself in any real danger. The different submarines vary in depth ability, speed, durability and attack powers. In order to get high tech subs, you need to raise a substantial amount of cash.
Once in the water, you can see your sonar, overhead map, air bar and health bar. One button controls your spear gun with unlimited ammo and another button controls both your special weapons and equipment, with a third button to change between them. This often causes problems, as you can’t change between weapons and equipment fast enough.
While Treasures of the Deep has many shortcomings, it does have a couple of redeeming qualities. For starters, the graphics are pretty cool. Schools of tropical fish and dolphins pass you by, sea weed moves with the currents, and different scenery greets you at different depths. The best feature of this game is the submarine’s movements. You can thrust forward, backwards, left and write, and up and down. In addition, you can turn your nose up, down, left and right. I realize this doesn’t look too impressive on paper, but the submarine handles remarkably well with all these options once you get the hang of it.
In all, Treasures of the Deep is just another game, one that hardly stands out. Not a bad game, but a definite rental.