'Unfortunately this won't fill the absence of quality flying games on the Xbox'
The Xbox has had a good variety of games in most of the typical genres, but flight simulations is not one of them. Though, across the three major consoles flight simulators have never really been able to establish themselves on the console. The Playstation 2 featuring most of the more significant franchises such as Lethal Skies. Seablade is not a flight simulator but it may help fill the void the console currently has, but is it a decent game?
The storyline behind Seablade is fairly cliche. A huge war has occurred on earth as well as a major political upheaval. Countries and sovereignty no longer exists, only the North and the South. The South fears being invaded by the North and the fears are becoming a reality. This is where you as the Seablade team come in, to stem the invasion and also to assist civilians who are left stranded after the huge battles of the war.
Seablade reminds me of Psygnosis mid 90's release, G-Police and this is not entirely a bad thing. The fact remains however that G-Police would not stand up against the latest release titles, and unfortunately Seablade fits into that category as well.
One of Seablades most touted features is the ability to have combat both in the air and underwater. This mechanic works well, all players have to do is fly into the ocean and the game will switch to its oceanic combat systems. The problem is that many missions intertwine this mechanic without a true explanation why this happens. Leaving it up to the player to decide may have worked better as diving under the sea is most definitely a strong advantage especially when taking on enemy air ships.
The other problem with Seablade is it is very difficult even during the early stages of the game. It even took me a few tries to pass the tutorial. Having enemy ships blasting away while a player is trying to learn the controls doesn't make for a very enjoyable experience. The controls are fairly stock standard with the two sticks used to control and manoeuvre the ship, the face buttons used for changing weapons and the triggers used for firing the armed weapons.
Missions are given via a few characters and for the most part the storyline is strong. Portrayed across a few CG cut scenes, the story will take you to the corners of the globe. Although it says that a mission will be set in London or Helsinki nothing signifies this in the actual game engine. When fighting in London there is indication that you are flying over the river Thames, or can see Big Ben. The addition of Landmarks would have improved the immersion level of Seablade ten fold.
As players progress through the game they will unlock new Seablades with improved weaponry and higher levels of resistance to enemy fire. This is one area the game works well and it is a true compliment to the controls of the game. It is incredibly easy to move from one ship to another, the only major worry is not launching a torpedo or heavy weapon near a wall or other ship to stop damage occurring to your own craft. The Seablades are wide in variety, some looking like the come from the next millennium whilst others replicating a more realistic physical look for instance a replica of the power boat racers of today.
Seablade features numerous environments, but for the most part they feature the same buildings and terrain. Players will visit lush green areas, urban areas, snow covered fields and many more, however combat remains the same for the most part. Progressing through the missions another problem becomes apparent and that is the lack of mission variety. There is only so many times that you can be told to rescue scientists or civilians without getting bored. Basically each area consists of scouting out the landscape, rescuing scientists and civilians before taking on a boss character and moving on. Seablade doesn't support Xbox Live or custom soundtrack which is quite surprising given that this title is exclusive to the Xbox console. Multiplayer is a split screen affair.
Visually Seablade is moderately average. The frame rate remains constant however even during intense fire fights with four or five craft. The environments seem dull and bland and even the urban environments don't have any unique features. If developers are going to use real world names they should some how distinguish cities between each other. The other major surprise was that during combat Seablade features absolutely no music. Given the fact that custom soundtrack isn't included this really is a major oversight on the part of the developer. Sound effects are one of the games strong points, and the voice communication with your commander always helps during missions.
Seablade is a hard game to recommend to all but those who really want an action flying game for their Xbox. The game does have some strong points but unfortunately many areas bring it down to average level. The action is fast and furious and anyone after a challenge will probably enjoy the game. It's a hit and miss game, some of you will love it others will not and for this reason it is wise to rent it first before handing over the cold hard cash.
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