There is one name that military enthusiasts will have no doubt missed over recent years, and that name is Janes. Janes was the premiere franchise name for military games and some of the plans they had were truly astonishing. Unfortunately Jane's no longer exists but that doesn't mean the guys who worked on the game have disappeared. Sonalyst Combat Simulations are a development team made up of ex-Jane developers and when you look at this game they have built, it is not hard to see that. Their latest game Dangerous Waters recently went gold but we also recently went hands on with a very late BETA to see just how the game is shaping up.
Being a Military simulation there is no surprise that the game is set in the real world. This is a game that truly takes everything it does seriously. If something is not available in the real world, or remotely believable, you're not going to find it in this game. With a number of game modes to play with and various difficulty levels, Sonalyst obviously realise that some people will want to play the game in a 'fun' manner while others will want the full experience, and with everything turned on it will take weeks not days to learn.
The storyline involves many of the super powers from the world; China, Russia and United States. Russia, recently changing to a democratic state, is struggling to keep control with a resistance forming in the East of the country. With the navy being ignored by the new government, crewman struggle to upkeep them and eventually some are captured by the rebels. Russia responds by putting its naval forces on standby for war. Eventually many other countries become involved in this impending conflict and it is up to you to take control of one of many lands featured in the game.
As you would expect with a game of this type, it is built around a simulation engine rather than arcade gameplay. Most of the time you will be looking at a map if you're on the easiest difficulty level, seeking out targets, while those who want to go all out will be in charge of basically everything possible on a variety of vehicles and vessels. The game is so detailed that the 500+ page manual which will ship with the game features a great deal of background information about exactly how to control a submarine and what everything means. This is not a game manual, it's a submarine manual down to the very last detail. It is easy to see that Sonalyst are taking this game very seriously and that they are very passionate about the game.
Throughout the game you will control three types of vehicles, planes, helicopters, submarines and frigates. Obviously depending on which vehicle you are using, the missions will be vastly different. Sometimes you will be tasked to take out hostile vessels. However the thing is you need to classify these units before firing, not doing so can lead to taking out Oil Tankers or luxury boats. Your actions in missions can come back to bite your later on with the dynamic system employed in the game.
The great thing about the game is that the action will not be all looking at pictures of engine rooms etc. With the powerful graphics engine, you can watch your craft move, or follow a missile until it hits. At the highest level, the graphic are highly detailed and match the level of detail featured in other areas of the game.
For those of you who don't want to check out the lengthy campaign, the game will also offer a quick mission mode where you can select the craft, mission type and where in the world it is to be set before taking on the mission. You will also be able to save mid-mission which is a great feature considering that time is looks to be calculated in real time when not using the acceleration feature.
The editor used to create the game is integrated into the GUI. This is what really is going to keep the game going in the long run with the ability to create quick single player and multiplayer missions and for those of you wanting to go the extra mile, entire campaigns will be able to be created to share with other users. Multiplayer also is looking great with either combative or co-operative play. When co-operative, players take control of various parts of the submarine to take on enemy units controlled by AI.
Sonalyst will also provide for those who want to get the best experience out of the game the ability to learn from scratch how to use all the equipment via the massive manual shipping with the game and also via the database from the United States Naval Institute. This is one of the most comprehensive databases of naval units you will ever see. Not only do you get full information about the craft, but photos are featured and also you will be able to view the 3D models the game uses to replicate these objects, showing the level of detail that Sonalyst have put into the game.
Dangerous Waters is not your regular military game and nor would you expect a game from these guys to be. It will be a game purely for those who want the ultimate simulation and while it may be a niche title, there is no doubt that it will probably be the most detailed and most in depth military simulation released for at least the first half of 2005. The game is only available from Battlefront.com and will be available in a few weeks time.