User Rating: 6.5 | AquaNox PC
Every time a new graphic chipset appears, the market gets drowned in games that try to squeeze the last drop of quality and frame rate from the new hardware. The Krass engine used in AquaNox, was primarily supposed to be a GeForce3 demo, and it later evolved into a full game that will both appear on the PC and X Box.

The L-Gatling - definitely the most efficient weapon. Light the way with my mighty Gatling!

The graphical aspect of this title has been explained in detail by Vader (our associate editor - ed) in his AquaNox preview, but I would still like to mention some of the engine's highlights. I should before that mention that the game heavily relies on its graphical aspect, and that there is not much more to it. This is one of the first games that use the vertex and pixel shading techniques which gives you a better feeling of the deep blue sea. I especially liked the planktons which hinder your vision. Apart from that, the submarine structures and enemies look quite realistic.

AquaNox is supposed to be a sequel to the somewhat older Archimedean Dynasty, but as much as it may be so according to the plot, it is in no way a complex submarine simulation like its predecessor. AquaNox is nothing more than a simplistic, linear and arcade shoot-em-up. Unlike Archimedean Dynasty, which let you trade and sail from harbor to harbor, the only interaction you will be able to achieve in AquaNox is shoot at something. The game has been made seemingly complex by introducing the briefings before each mission, but they always come down to: seek and destroy missions. Another problem is that the scriptwriters simply lost it somewhere round the middle of the story, rendering the entire plot totally ambiguous... not that it really matters as the entire game comes down to senseless shooting anyway.

The background story doesn't seem too bad at first sight. In far future, mankind decided to move under sea because of the abnormally high levels of pollution, but as there are less and less resources, these underwater cities are engaged in fierce civil wars. During one of these wars, a secret experiment based in Neopolis went wrong. Ancient demons of the deep (resembling giant octopuses) had been awoken, and there is only one man that can face them. You assume the role of a submarine adventurer, Emerald "Deadeye" Flint, and have to eradicate the potential threat to humankind. On the way to your main goal, you will also have to fight genetically mutated pirates, rebels, and about forty kinds of different monsters altogether.

The combat isn't too bad, but it soon gets very boring and monotonous. It basically resembles any space-shooter game from Wing-Commander on. Still, don't expect to see anything as complex as the Freespace gameplay system. All you have is a couple of types of weapons, torpedoes, and subs; no complex controls. You just have to slide around, shoot senselessly and dodge enemy attacks. The graphic surroundings look great, and that is the main, and for that matter the only trump of this game.

As good as the graphics may be the sound is practically disastrous. I have many times discussed the voice acting in games; I think that being an actor in a video game is a great position and that good voice acting can substantially improve the atmosphere in the game. On the other hand if you let your idle secretary or programmer actor-wannabes do the job, you get a game sounding like AquaNox... and I simply find it hard to believe that the people who did the voice-acting in this game got actually paid for it. The voices and the accents are just as terrible as the common Hollywood belief that all foreigners actually speak English, just with a funny accent. I did not know whether to laugh or cry watching the psychedelic caricatures and listening to their idiotic voices.

On the other hand, the Multiplayer mode is interesting and fun especially if there are a lot of players in the game. This all goes only if they all have monstrous rigs preferably equipped with GeForce3 cards.

Another problem with AquaNox are the numerous bugs which start 'bugging' you as soon as you install the game. The developers already published a patch, but if you take a closer look at the FAQ page on their site, you will find out that the game is full of settings, which can crash Windows if tempered with.

Aquanox is a simple, easily controllable and modestly fun product. It should by no means be considered to be a submarine simulation, but rather a simple arcade shoot-em-up, used only for time wasting when you have nothing the least bit intelligent to play.