Written on: 12/10/2006 by TOMLEECEE (121 reviews written)
Some interesting gameplay features
Good progression system
A bit foggy
Sometimes you wish the subs were faster
The weaponry is a bit weak
Poorly acted video clips
Unconvincing voice acting
Confusing map system
Deep Fighter is an underwater shoot 'em up that was released simultaneously on the PC and the Sega Dreamcast in 2000. In it, you assume the role of a recently graduated submarine pilot codenamed Moray 2, who is fast-tracked into front line duty by the powers that be. The reason is that your people are attempting to build a space craft that will enable them to escape the sea-covered planet and return home. It seems though, that some clandestine force, known only as the Shadowkin, have other ideas and plan to steal your technology for their own ends...
The game opens with a lengthy FMV scene, in which you are introduced to the Admiral and the other members of your submarine squadron. After a briefing session, your first mission begins and you are eased into the plot of Deep Fighter in the most subtle of ways: the first mission is basically a time limited race with the other members of your sub team, where you must locate radioactive crystals, collect them and then return them to the drop off point in order to power the building of your starship. This initial task is really only a training mission, and it introduces the player to the controls of the submarine and allows you to test the firepower and secondary technology on-board. The second mission is equally tranquil - you simply have to restock a fish farm by removing radioactive rocks and attracting a shoal of fish back to the feeding grounds. It's all very laid back, and it gives you the opportunity to test the limits of your vehicle and what all the buttons do. After these first two missions, the game starts proper, and introduces several hostile elements, including enemy subs and malevolent sea dwelling creatures.
As one would expect, the completion of each subsequent mission leads to a message to return to base so that a briefing for the next can be given. It's all pretty straight forward stuff I'm sure you'll agree.
Also, with the completion of the missions, your rank and standing with your team mates increases, and the amount of firepower at your disposal goes up too - as does the introduction of faster craft, with better guns and the ability to travel to deeper depths.
Graphically, Deep Fighter is quite impressive. The game utilises the Renderware 3 engine, and it features some really high quality texture and light mapping, although there is no real-time lighting from the lights on your sub, which is a shame because venturing into deep caverns with only the beams from your craft lighting the way would have been pretty spectacular. There is however a night/day cycle, and the way sun/moon beams break the surface of the ocean is very pretty, and the depths themselves are literally teaming with life: fish, jellyfish, crabs, reeds and sponges etc., as well as your enemies. Just don't spend too long admiring their impressive looking laser beams...
Deep Fighter utilises a lot of fogging though, and whilst it may at first appear to be an effect employed to give a realistic under-water feel, I can't help but think it's also implemented to keep the frame rate up and stress on the hardware to a minimum.
The sound effects are quite good, although the sampled in-game radio messages that occasionally pop up when a mission specific event occurs (such as another base being attacked) are pretty embarrassing and devoid of any real emotion. Another shortcoming that just has to be mentioned is the map screen. Confusing is probably the least effective way of describing it - downright useless is probably nearer the truth. The icons are so small it's impossible to tell where you are, and if you accidentally set a way point marker, it's impossible to delete it, so when you return to the game you'll have yet another arrow on you HUD pointing you in the direction of the accidental waypoint. Annoying to say the least.
These minor gripes aside, Deep Fighter is a reasonably good looking game, with intuitive controls and quite a bit of longevity packed in - indeed, it comes spanning across two GD Roms.
As only the second under water game on the Dreamcast after Ecco: Defender of the Future, Deep Fighter is a nice diversion from the usual land or space based shooter. It's far from perfect, and the wandering nature of the missions may annoy some, but if you liked Starlancer you should give Deep Fighter a chance to shine - you may be surprised.
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