S.U.B. logo

You always know you are in for a bad time with a game when its title is a very tenuous acronym. SUB, apparently, stands for Strategic Underwater Battles. Oh dear. The plot is that the surface world has become uninhabitable due to atmospheric depletion, and the only safe place on the planet is now under the sea. Obviously in such a situation the survivors of the holocaust would immediately build a base, arm themselves to the gill implants and go for all-out sub-aqua carnage. It seems highly reasonable.

There is a vague deja-vu aspect to all of this. Before you can buy weapons to kill everyone, you have to research and design them. Millennium 2.2 springs to mind here. Initially you have just one underwater base with research facilities, but you can build more, but you first have to make some money.

You can either sell the plans to weapons, ships or whatever you design, or you can sell components that you have manufactured yourself. In the early stages you will not have the resources to make things, so selling plans is the only choice.

The mineral wealth of the ocean bed is there to be exploited. Mining platforms can be constructed to take oil, gems and ore from under the sea bed to power factories making components and ships which you can either sell or use to wage total war.

Ships can be organised into platoons to seek and destroy pirates. You may leave the combat up to the computer to sort out, but it is not advisable. Considering the whole game is about strategic underwater combat, it is a bit of a shame that the combat part requires all the strategic experience of a really tough game of Snap.

This could have been a good game if only the user interface was not so tortuously unfriendly and it did not look like a poor version of a title released a couple of years ago. This game is certainly sub-standard.

Wie SeaQuest - nur besser!

S.U.B. logo

Im nächsten Urlaub solltet Ihr unbedingt einen Tauch-Kursus buchen, denn die Erde wird demnächst von einem riesigen Meteor getroffen - und dann hilft nur noch der beherzte Sprung ins kühle Naß!

Das behauptet jedenfalls die Story dieses Unterwasser-Strategicals, wobei die Autoren bei Kompart der Menschheit aber auch zwischen den Algen noch Überlebenschancen einräumen. Immerhin hat der Meeresgrund ein beachtliches Kontingent am Rohstoffen zu bieten, mit deren Hilfe unsere Nachfahren am Aufbau einer neuen Zivilisation stricken können...

Leider sprießen die Resources sooo reichlich nun auch wieder nicht, weshalb den Echtzeit-Chef einer nagelneuen Ozean-Kolonie gleich drei komplizierte Aufgaben erwarten. Erstens muß er dem schlickigen Boden wervolle Öle und Erze entreißen, zweitens diverse Handelsgüter daraus backen und drittens weitere Claims abstecken.

Das hört sich zwar friedlich an, aber dank ruchloser Piraten ist auch die militärische Abwehr gefragt, deren Mittel dann über kurz oder lang noch gegen die computergesteuerte Konkurrenz eingesetzt werden müssen. Woraus sich ganz zwanglos erklärt, weshalb S.U.B. für "Strategic Underwater Battles" steht.

Das Gameplay folgt dabei durchaus geläufigen Vorbildern, denn man schickt Such-Boote auf die Reise, haut oder kauft neue Stationen, Förderanlagen, Fabriken und Wohnmodule, macht dasselbe mit weiteren U-Booten, die je nach Design als Lastenesel oder Kriegselefanten taugen, und investiert die sauer errackerte Kohle in Forschung und Entwicklung.

Richtig geraten, in großen Zügen errinert das an Klassiker wie "Millennium 2.2" bzw. "Deuteros", schon weil man auch hier seine benötigten Informationen aus allerlei Datenblättern bezieht - ganz zu schweigen von den "programmierbaren" Fahrzeugen, die bei S.U.B. freilich auch recht komplexe Befehlsfolgen mit mehreren Zielpunkten samt den dort erwünschten Tätigkeiten ermöglichen.

Schließlich wird man irgendwann Bekanntschaft mit dem auf Schachbrettfeldern basierenden Kampfbildschirm machen, welcher zwar etwas hübscher aussieht als der von "Whale's Voyage", aber sonst ganz ähnlich funktioniert und übrigens auf Automatik geschaltet werden kann.

Vielleicht keine schlechte Idee, denn aufgrund der übertrieben komplizierten Icon-Steuerung hat man trotz des an sich simpel gestalteten Seekarten-Hauptscreens auch ohne Knallerei genug zu tun.

Aber wer erst mal durchgestiegen ist, findet sich gut zurecht, was nicht zuletzt den sauber übersetzten Texten zu verdanken ist. Zudem kann die Optik mit ihren vielen, manchmal animierten Zwischenbildern, Polygon-Objekten und dem umfangreichen Intro durchaus gefallen.

Ebenfalls lobenswert fanden wir die der Packung beiliegende 1200er-Version, wenngleich sie nicht nur in puncto Sound vom Normal-S.U.B. unterscheidet - dort allerdings erheblich. Kurz und treffend: Das Teil taucht was! (jn)

S.U.B. logo

Cannot swim? That is you knackered then.

There is a thing about life, and the thing about life is this: it is immensely complicated. No matter how long you stick with it, there is always something you cannot quite get to grips with or, indeed, begin to understand one tiny bit at all. Unfortunately life does not come with an instruction book, but if it did, it would undoubtedly be a badly translated instruction book with lots of sentences that had a very good but ultimately unsuccessful stab at making sense. And, d'you know, in these respects life would be a lot like this game.

So wrote Stan Wallpaper in his now standard textbook '101 Extremely Contrived Introductory Paragraphs'. Thanks, Stan. It changed my life. But anyway: SUB. This (erk) strategy game - the acronym stands for Strategic Underwater Battles - is one of those post apocalyptic survival numbers.

In this case the apocalypse has left the Earth's surface one hundred per cent water and wiped out everybody but (a) those few thousands living in prototype bases on the ocean floor and (b) two surprised lovers by the names of Olive and Desmond who were in the process of romantically jumping off a mountain rather than have their feuding parents forcibly separate them.

You have to trade, mine, expand, fight off pirates and generally behave in a typically post-apocalyptic manner but luckily not worry about Olive and Desmond, whose elation at realising they were suddenly free to live out their lives together was cut short by drowning.

Even for a strategy game, SUB is sedate

In a nutshell, a SUB session consists of buying a submarine, fitting it with mineral detectors and following it up with a cargo ship carrying mining rigs, founding a base to develop new equipment and selling the results to other traders, and doing it all again to build up a steady income and a strong fleet in order to deter pirates.

Even for a strategy game, SUB is sedate - most of the 'action' comes in the form of rows of fluctuating digits and although there is a communications network you can only receive messages and not, say, ask if anybody has seen any pirates recently. (And the messages you need to read are hidden among endless jokes about dolphin taming contests and the sub 'Nostrodomo' constantly discovering an alien ship filled with eggs).

You can declare war, in which case every trader's hand is turned against you, but this is not really the spirit of the game and in any case combat just consists of clicking on a few squares until something goes boom so there you go. The most demanding part of SUB is improvising a way to decipher the ridiculously small numbers crammed on the screen.

By far the biggest problem with the game, and ho boy is it a biggy, is the manual. It is spectacularly bad. Putting aside the hopeless translation (see, Stan's lessons do pay off in the end), it does not even cover everything you can do in the game, and it took the combined efforts of three people to sort out exactly what I was supposed to be doing. As well as the manual and those impossibly small numbers, you have to contend with dark blue icons on a black background. How terribly amusing.

Getting the thing up and running is a frighteningly tricky affair, but it is kinda fun in a laid-back way. Perhaps Stan puts it best in his follow-up book, '101 Agonising Metaphors to Close a Review'- Strategic Underwater Battles is a game pitched firmly in the field of complicated strategy and unlikely to be visited by the casual tourist of average gameplaying, but provides a satisfyingly earwig-free environment and succeeds in staying away from the large charred tree of disaster. Or perhaps not.

S.U.B. logo

The intro has spacecraft flying between planets. The game is about underwater empire building. Can anyone tell Paul Presley what is going on?

I like a good laugh, me. Especially when it is at someone else's expense. That is why I love looking at foreign games that contain all manner of translation gaffes. S.U.B. should be able to keep me sniggering throughout the rest of Spring thanks to the atrociousness of its introductory sequence.

Oh the graphics are superb, it is the test that constantly writes itself across the screen that allows my laughing gear to shift out of reverse. Graphically, it has the look of one of those European PD demos that crop up month after month - the ones with beautifully rendered 3D spaceships flying through space that make people go, "Ooh, isn't it pretty". Of course, beautiful as these spaceships are, they do not seem to have much bearing on the game itself which, for the main part, deals with the exploration of Earth's sea bed and the manufacture of a global submersible empire.

Competing against several other globally minded figures, you have to take your initial supply of bases and Deep Sea Vehicles (yes, that is what the D.S.V. in SeaQuest stood for) in order to explore, expand and extract. Explore uncharted areas of the seabed, expand your horizons to cover as much territory as possible and extract mineral wealth and turn it into an army. With an army, you see, you can embark upon a killing spree of your enemies.

However, before I get onto that I really must just go back to this whole translation thing. Some might say, 'Well, it is from another country, you cannot expect perfect English'. Well no, I would not if it were being released in another country. But it isn't (well it is, but I am talking about this version), it is being released here. If distributors are going to release a foreign game into English-speaking shores it is their moral responsibility to translate the text into readable English. Ooh, it gets my goat, it really does.

Somewhere along the lengthy line that is computer gaming history, someone re-wrote the rules. No matter what type of game it was, from the shoot 'em up to the strategy fare, you could be sure that it would at the very least be fun. Then at some point fun stopped being important and people started to take everything seriously. The upshot of this horrendous event is a game like S.U.B.. A no point while I was playing it was I ever having fun.

So I could write this review in one of two ways. I could sit here and go through each of the game's elements, analyse and assess each separate nuance and came up with an overall impression based on the results. Or I could simply tell you that S.U.B. isn't fun and leave you to get on with something that is.

If I had taken the analytical route I would have told you that the in-game graphics are fairly good, but nothing special; that the music is professional at first but soon begins to grate; that the control interface could have done with being far more user-friendly; that at no point do you ever feel as though you know exactly what is going on. But that despite all of that it is very polished, has no immediately apparent flaws in its structural design and it could no doubt provide you with something of a lasting challenge for a while.

Trouble is it would all be academic because it is just plain dull. It has all the enjoyment properties of cleaning somebody else's toenails. Throughout my, thankfully, brief acquaintance with it I just kept thinking 'When can I get on with a more enjoyable assignment' and that is always a bad sign.