reviews\ Dec 2, 2002 at 7:00 pm

SeaBlade - XB - Review

It is now the twenty-fourth century, the Earth is devastated, and most of the land has become submerged in water. The world has been split into two fractions the North and South. The South has reorganized and became prosperous once more, while the North became a ferocious frontier controlled by radial Warlords. The South fears that the fanatic Warlords will attack them; to prevent this from happening, they launch the Argosy, their most powerful warship, to do rescue and reconnaissance work in the North. The Argosy carries the SeaBlades, high performance rescue and attack vehicles, that can fly, and go underwater. Players take on the role of David Pierce, an ace pilot, who is commander of the SeaBlade Squadron. Your assignment is to protect the Argosy and help complete its mission.

The ship designs for the game are not the best in the world. Each ship has a low polygonal count, and is not very well textured. To make up for this, players would assume each of the environments would be extremely detailed. Once they get into the game they will be shocked since all the environments have the same amount of detail as the ships they fly. The levels are extremely bland and boring, and it seems like the developers have a thing for the color brown, as most of the coloring is a shade of brown. This is not a bad thing, but it makes the game extremely bland to look at. This is the thing that is extremely puzzling: since most of the levels have water in them, why are there no real-time reflections? The developers did nothing to take advantage of the Xbox graphical capabilities at all. On the plus side the game has a high frame rate.

The animations for each ship are one good point about the game. Each craft has four separate wings, to help it steer though the air and swim in the water. When players hit a speed boost, break, or turn, it is very interesting to see each wings move to make all of this occur. Transferring from the air into the ocean is a smooth process that does not require any load time, which is a good thing, since players get a huge dose of that before each match begins.

SeaBlade supports a mediocre soundtrack that gets annoying after it is heard for the first few minutes. The voice acting is above average; this is one game where players will not be laughing by the ridiculous voices by the briefing personal. The sound effects used are sub par, but they have that been there, heard that feeling to them. One of my favorite sound effects happens when the players submerge their ships under water. Everything from the engine to the machineguns has a muffled sounded. In this respect the developers tried to put a little bit of realism into the game.

The controls are what kill this game. Once players turn on the game and attempt to play a mission they will be dumbfounded when they realize how un-user friendly the controls are. To help things, players would assume that the developers would allow the players to customize the controls, but there is not an option in there to do so. Players will spend more time fighting with the controller, trying to fly the ship, then fighting enemies and accomplishing their mission objectives. This is a shame because the game has some potential in it, if it had been properly tested.

SeaBlade offers some multiplayer modes for the brave, which are Chaos Reigns, Tag, and Moving Target. Chaos Reigns is a deathmatch between two to four players. Tag is where players play tag with a time bomb; the last player holding this bomb will explode when the timer runs out. Moving Target is where players hunt down a computer controlled vehicle, to win players must try to be the first to eliminate the target. The problem is that it seems like there was little to no thought when making these modes, so none of them are very fun to play with your friends.

SeaBlade is rated T for Teen for violence.

Gameplay: 4.6
Players will spend more than half of the game trying to figure out how to control the ships!  The controls for this ship are a huge hindrance; they are not intuitive at all. I wonder how this ever got past the Q/A testers!

Graphics: 5.5
I am not a  fan of mediocre colors on a next generation console. I know that SeaBlade takes place in a post-apocalyptic future, but the world should never look this dull. Everything seems to have a low polygonal count, so people will wonder: why are there extremely long load times?

Sound: 6.0
The sound gets repetitive and extremely annoying. Within minutes players will mute their TV's and turn on their stereos.

Difficulty: Medium
The game is pretty easy, but the controls bump this category up a notch. Trying to fly the ships is the hardest thing in the entire game! The enemies will not have to shoot down your ship, as the players will do that themselves as they try to pilot the ships.

Concept: 6.3
The game has a been there done that kind of feeling. The only difference in this game, and others like it, is players can fight in the air and underwater.

Multiplayer: 5.0
The multiplayer for SeaBlade is just like the single player game, which is not fun at all. Instead of one person complaining about poor controls, bland graphics, and magnificent loading screen; up to four people can partake in this festivity.

Overall: 5.5
If you value your money, time, and sanity, please pass over this game. It may look promising, but the poor controller scheme ruins it. If you are looking for a good single player game combined with an awesome multiplayer support, look at MechAssault or TimeSplitters 2.


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