STAFF REVIEW of Deep Black: Episode 1 (Xbox 360 Arcade)

Thursday, May 17, 2012.
by Brent Roberts

Deep Black: Episode 1 Box art In today's gaming world we are treated to those arcade titles that innovate, entertain, and provide hours upon hours of enjoyment (I'm calling these games "Type A"). You know the type of game I'm talking about, and for the most part if I asked you to name some, you could fire off a list off the top of your head. Then there are the games that are so poorly made that you feel like your Microsoft Points have been swindled away from you under the guise of a game that looks good in a couple of pictures (I'm calling these games "Type B" in which "B" stands for, well you know). So now we turn to 505's Deep Black Episode 1 which is priced at 800 Microsoft Points and find out if this game is Type A or B.

On the outside the game looks inviting. Screenshots of underwater battles, massive gunfights, and cool looking weapons and gear lead one to believe that this is a solid purchase. Once the game starts though, your experience comes plummeting downward like a meteor hurtling towards Earth and you know once it hits, it's game over. The premise of the game is solid. That?s about the only good thing you can say about this game as you realize that the game itself looks to have deliberately ripped off elements from other games and produced something that will leave you demanding a refund of your now spent 800 Microsoft Points.

As we begin, our main character looks as though he was pieced together from other titles. The helmet looks as if you combined either the CQB visor from Halo 3 or the visor from Time Shift, with the helmet from Mass Effect and the armor looks like it was a combination of Dead Space and Mass Effect. Now pathetically combine elements of other popular third person shooters such as Gears of War and more, and what you get is this monumental failure of a game. The controls are straight forward and generic but very clunky and your main character even has a roll feature which perplexes me as to why it was even included since it's never essentially needed.

The underwater elements of Deep Black Episode 1 is the only innovation you will find throughout the game and while the aspects of maneuvering and fighting underwater are somewhat entertaining, this is simply a case where a game cannot produce enough positives to balance out the overwhelmingly large negatives. While the bulk of your gameplay will be underwater, when you get out it feels as though all the enjoyment gets washed down the drain. The character modeling is very generic and the level design is extremely linear which forces you to constantly put your character in a "cover, then fire" position and to repeat said process throughout the entire game. Speaking of your enemies, you will also find a tremendous inconsistent feeling when fighting them. Since you have no real visual clue as to how close you are to dying you may find yourself thinking you have more health than you really do which will cause you to engage more enemies, and thus die a lot more frequently than you would expect.

If the overall horrid gameplay still isn't enough to push you away, the sounds and graphics of Deep Black: Episode 1 just might be the tipping point. Your enemies are incredibly generic and either takes tons of ammo to eliminate or just one shot and when they pass on, they die in a very comical, over emphasized way. Think of it like a three year old screaming and trying to re-enact the death in Hamlet. This is amusing at first until you realize that they ALL DIE IN THIS OVER-EMBELLISHED WAY. So throughout your entire adventure you will have to endure and hear this overacted dribble constantly. The voice acting in general for this game is sub-par at best and there is very little redeeming quality when it comes to the music and sounds. We also talked earlier about the level design being very linear, while some games can make their levels detailed and beautiful, Deep Black Episode 1 however make their levels bland and uninspiring.

With so much of this game directly ripping off aspects of other popular titles and publishing pretty pictures and promising grand adventures full of action, one would venture to guess that this game is a solid pickup at 800 Microsoft Points, and you would be completely wrong. There's so much that is wrong with Deep Black: Episode 1 that even contemplating purchasing the game should warrant some form of gamer punishment, like instantly red ringing or locking you out of Xbox live temporarily so you can't be tempted to buy stupid worthless crap. There is no reason that you should ever spend your points on a game that had the blueprints of what made a good third person shooter game, and failed on every single aspect.

There is one hope though and it rests with the title of the game (Deep Black: Episode 1), and that is they make the next episode better, but that is almost a guarantee since this game is starting neck deep in, ummmm... quicksand. I say almost because the company already had prime examples of quality work they could have sampled if they wanted to do a good knock off, but they failed to do even that with this game. I can think of so many other things I'd rather be doing than playing Deep Black: Episode 1, things such as having brain surgery, or for instance, going to jail. Both these options are more enjoyable and they'll save you Microsoft Points, or you could do the logical choice and just not buy it.

Overall: 4.0 / 10
Gameplay: 4.5 / 10
Visuals: 4.0 / 10
Sound: 3.5 / 10


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