While console gamers were graced in the first week of March with such titles as “Mass Effect 3,” “I Am Alive” and “Street Fighter X Tekken,” their PC counterparts were greeted with a handful of uninventive indie games and the painful-to-play arcade-style shooter “Deep Black: Reloaded.”
Deep Black: Reloaded
The game takes place in a future straight out of the mind of a hyper-conservative fearmonger. After the United Nations splits into two entities, several large corporations struggle to acquire some new and extremely dangerous weapon in a generic power struggle for world dominance. The plot is conveyed through cutscenes vaguely reminiscent of comic-books, à la “Kick-Ass,” which in turn are punctuated by subpar writing. Every unfunny and overused character archetype is present, from the backwater drill sergeant to the foreign concierge, imparted using awful voice acting and equally abominable accents. The soundtrack sounds like it was ripped straight out of one of the earlier James Bond films, which adds some value to an atmosphere that can otherwise be described as complete and utter shit.
Arcade-style “cover shooters” — for those unfamiliar with buzzwords used in video-game advertising, “cover shooter” roughly translates to “games for people who don’t actually enjoy doing anything,” — such as “Time Crisis” occasionally port well to other platforms. “Deep Black: Reloaded” does not. The unreliable hit-detection system, unfavorable camera and inconsistent weapon damage, coupled with the character’s propensity for dying as soon as any number of the stereotypical assortment of enemies gives him the right look, makes for an experience that can best be described as rage-inducing. Whether it’s the impossible-to-disable proximity mines that instantly kill you or the deadeye enemies that tear you to pieces the minute you’re not taking cover, combat is more frustrating than fun in every instance.
One of the main selling points is the underwater combat system. While the concept of firing underwater is baffling, it’s made somewhat feasible because the game takes place in the future. The entire underwater jetpack-slash-stealth combat-slash-infiltration feels exactly how it sounds — gimmicky and only fun for the first five minutes. Once the player realizes that, even underwater, the cover system hates them and the camera is even less cooperative, the novelty wears off and the same white-knuckle rage that will probably lead to dozens of broken mice starts to set back in.
“Deep Black: Reloaded” isn’t without some merits. For example, the game looks good, if a little dated. There are some cool melee and stealth executions that almost start to make up for the fact that playing feels more like an exercise in masochism and patience than an enjoyable romp through a world characterized by high-tension espionage action. It promises at least eight hours of gameplay, approximately six of which will be spent at the “game over” screen.
The real cost of the game comes not from the initial investment of purchasing it, but from the cost of replacing the keyboard and mouse you’ll throw out of the window in frustration, as well as the large amount of self-medication necessary to cope with the irrecoverable loss of money on a game with so few positive points. “Deep Black: Reloaded” fails to deliver on just about every front.