Setting the ocean floor ablaze in Blue Byte’s classic shooter.
When you think submarines, you think stealth. Playing any serious sub sim is all about effectively using the submarine’s sophisticated stealth capabilities to get close and strike at the enemy without him even knowing it. This is not entirely the case with the awkwardly-named Archimedean Dynasty, which is a sort of space combat game thrown into the Atlantic and mixed in with some stealthy gameplay to boot – it often features the hectic arcade combat found in games like X-Wing or Wing Commander, but with a novel underwater setting. The mix of gameplay styles and cool visuals are the game’s main draws.
The first few missions should ease you into the game. They’ll have you thinking of the Wing Commander series, or of Subwar 2050 if you remember that title; they’ll leave you with the impression that you’re in a relatively simple shooter, which looks really good but plays the same. The game isn’t all combat, however. You’ll have to do things like find a deep-sea current in an underwater rift, hide in it with your engines off, and drift past enemy gun turrets perched ominously atop ridges ahead of you right and left. You’ll have to put together a cascading series of tasks for yourself as an underwater mercenary, with the constant need to determine whether you should follow the boss’s priorities, the needs of your own private smuggling concerns, the fulfillment of missions to prove your reliability, and so on.
The background story, which develops through a series of text conversations you have with the army of in-game characters, grows ever more complex and sophisticated the more you play. How you act in relationship to various characters determines what kinds of missions you’ll be offered down the line, and sends you down what looks to be a complex series of branchings while the game unfolds. While at one level you may find yourself wondering why the designers chose to present this part of the game almost entirely in text (cut scenes offer periodic dialogue), soon you’ll be happy they did. There’s plenty of story to work through.
The combat between your craft and your opponents (significantly upgradeable over the course of the game) is much more sophisticated than usual; you’ll have to spend time re-thinking the turn-and-burn tactics you’re used to in other kinds of simulation, and will have to develop subtler, more sophisticated strategies to get into the rhythms of the game. Veterans of previous sub sims will be in slightly more familiar waters here, though the futuristic angle to underwater combat changes the rules substantially from X-Wing.
System Requirements: 80486DX4 CPU, 8 MB RAM, Win98
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