A little while back, the oft-delayed Deep Black: Episode One finally found its way to Xbox Live Arcade, and though it had some promise with its underwater setting and controls at first, it eventually ended up being, ahem, dead in the water, due to its lacking visuals, troublesome controls and messed-up structure. For that matter, multiplayer didn't fare that well either, leaving us playing something far better instead — like, say, the recently released Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
With that, I was kind of hoping that 505 Games would've learned its lesson with the "full" PS3 release of Deep Black, which arrived last week without even so much as an announcement trailer. Still, when we received a review code, I was curious to see if the publisher actually fared any better with this version. But, sadly, it's just as, ahem, watered down. Let me put it this way — you're bound to be more entertained by my awful puns than anything in this game.
In the single player mode, you play a guy named Pierce, who's called upon to rescue hostages in an underwater facility. But his mission turns out to be far more than how it appears at first, and he's soon scrambling to battle an even greater enemy than before. If you're expecting twists and turns in Deep Black, you're not going to get them. In fact, it's safe to say that Battleship had better plot points going than this. For serious.
The gameplay is just as awful as it was on the Xbox 360. First off, the cover system is completely broken, even when you're floating around in free-swim combat. Sometimes you'll effectively hide behind stuff, and others you'll be hanging out there, practically shark bait for incoming enemies. Secondly, the aiming system feels a bit off at times, particularly when you're underwater and enemies miraculously make a better charge at you than you would at them. It's like they know how to swim and you're just scrambling to stay alive. Yeah, that's fair. And even when you're out of the water, the controls don't respond nearly as well as you should. Oh, and a word of advice — DON'T MELEE. You'll be left so wide open that an old granny with a harpoon gun could load her weapon and kill you in the time it takes to regain your stance. Yep, that bad.
Now, had some improvements been made to the presentation, we could see maybe a slight bit of forgiveness. But nope, the game's pretty much sunk in this department too. The frame rate jitters so much that it almost seems like Deep Black is completely broken at times, and some of the better underwater details are lost by the constantly revolving bombs that keep coming in, or the smaller caverns that wreak havoc due to a poorly implemented camera. Even stuff that looks like it's inspired by James Cameron's The Abyss just doesn't represent well here at all. And if you're looking for good audio, forget it. The voice acting is substandard at best, and the music barely registers whatsoever.
The single player campaign drags on to the point that you'll probably lose interest midway through, and that leaves the multiplayer, which is even more of a mess. Hardly anyone is in the lobby, and the sessions we did take part in lagged and froze up so much that we were wondering if people were using old dial-up connections. (And we confirmed, they were not.)
Clocking in at a massive 4.6 GB and sitting at a way-too-expensive price point at $14.99, Deep Black is asking players to do a lot. But what do they get in return? Nothing of significant value. Broken graphics, lacking gameplay and completely busted multiplayer do nothing to validate it. Do yourself a favor and let it drown in the forgotten annals of PlayStation Network. Go play Counter-Strike instead.