Title: Deep Black: Reloaded
Price: $29.99 (retail) $20.99 (direct)
Systems: PC (Win)
Release Date: March 01, 2012
Publisher (Developer): Biart Company, LLC
ESRB Rating: “Mature”
Pros: Visually stunning, straightforward presentation and strong potential for the setting.
Cons: Poor and unresponsive controls, lack of keymapping customization, horrible voice acting and glitchy.
Overall: Two thumbs sideways, 70, C-, ** out of five.
Let’s face it. Shooters are pretty common. Then again, finding one that is merely passable can be hard. Finding a good one is even harder. So Deep Black: Reloaded was instantly intriguing.
In its basic terms, Deep Black: Reloaded is a cover based third-person shooter. The setting of the game is one with a lot of potential. It is a world where traditional ideas of the nation and standard government has been phased out. The world is split into regions that are owned and governed by corporations and AI. Even different terrorist groups are borderline corporations. Even though the setting is strong, the story is pretty weak. Take a cookie cutter soldier archetype character who has the personality of a cardboard box. Send him out on a mission to save hostages from a terrorist group. He discovers that there’s something larger than the “save the hostages and kill the terrorists” narrative that’s given to you in the beginning and let the corporate warfare begin. The story doesn’t really evolve much beyond that point, which is pretty sad.
A fighting chance…
As said earlier, the setting is great. If the story was fleshed out more, Deep Black would’ve actually been stronger and closer to being on par with the hardcore games. Yes, Biart does admit that this game is more of an arcade shooter and asked that it not be compared with standard hardcore console and PC shooters. However, the setting alone does give it the potential for being a strong “hardcore” shooter if done right. It’s actually kind of depressing that Biart didn’t push for something more in-depth.
The graphics engine is also top notch, especially when you get to the underwater sequences. Then again, Biart does do a lot underwater worlds in their work. So, if there’s anything that we can expect them to do right and beautifully, it’s the underwater world. The only problem that arises from the underwater world is the fact that there is a disconnect between the above water and the underwater visuals in terms of quality. Where there are beautifully rendered and fairly unpredictable underwater sequences, when you’re out of the water, things become bland.
I never thought I would say this but the straightforward, linear presentation of the game is actually one of its greatest strengths. Deep Black, at least in terms of this format, lends itself to linear gameplay. It’s mostly because the story itself is so limited that it would be pointless to try for something a little more open. With the lacking content, Biart did the right thing by making a linear game.
Even so, there are a lot of problems with Deep Black: Reloaded. First and foremost, the controls are poorly mapped and are occasionally unresponsive. The poorly mapped part would not be as much of a problem if there had been the ability to customize the keymapping. Therein lies a problem. There is no kepmapping customization that allows you split the controls. Due to the mapping, the cover-based system is a hindrance. The problem is more in relation to the fact that evasion/speed and cover are both mapped to the spacebar. This means that if you try to roll on ground or use the jetpack underwater, if you’re by cover, you’ll enter cover even when you’re trying to head away from cover.
At best, the voice acting is a joke. It just sounds so flat and heartless. There really is no other way of saying. Each line just sounds like it’s going to be followed by the actor asking for their paycheck. The sad thing is, the only time the voice acting is halfway to believable and even tolerably amusing is when people are dying.
Probably one of the bigger issues are the general glitches. It doesn’t matter which glitches we’re talking about since there are a lot. There are glitches with the A.I. as well as hit detection. Here are some examples. Sometimes enemies leave cover and run directly at live grenades but somehow survive and end up back in cover. Sometimes kill shots don’t register. Sometimes enemies take cover on the wrong side of cover, which leads to interesting issues.
There’s a lot that is wrong with the game. However, there is enough that’s solidly polished for Biart to run with building the world more through creating a fully fledged franchise. It’s just a matter of learning how to tell the stories and making sure that the games are not as buggy as this is.
Is Deep Black: Reloaded worth your money? Yes, if only to support the developers as they do show an immense amount of promise. As stated earlier, the game does have a lot of problems but what’s done right is done incredibly well. The problems also aren’t game-breaking. They’re just annoying.
It is a good effort as we have seen larger and longer standing companies to worse with more.
Biart will hopefully try to fix a lot of the issues for the eventual console release for the game. Then again, Biart should fix the issues with the PC version as well. There is also an MMO in the works according the the Biart site, so it seems that the world is going to be getting fleshed out considerably. Biart, do NOT make this a huge missed opportunity.