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Posted on Jun 9, 2006 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Dangerous Waters – Game Review (PC)

By Herman Hum

There are a number of DW versions. The original was published by Battlefront with two choices: one with a hefty 530-page spiral-bound paper manual and one, cheaper, with a .PDF version of the documentation. Next, Strategy First and Steam published, respectively, the boxed version and an electronic download one (via the Steam digital download service). Currently, you can buy the boxed version of the game along with a free copy of the paper manual from Strategy First, while Steam only provides digital documentation.

All versions are compatible in MP games, but the players must ensure that all participants are updated to the same patch. The latest patch, 1.03, is available on Sonalyst’s website.

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On May, 26th 2006 Black Bean published the European edition of Dangerous Waters. Priced at 29,89 Euro, the DVD package contains the original game patched to the 1.03 version, a 100-page printed manual (the hefty original one being present in .PDF format on the CD), and some bonus content. The latter basically boils down to a selection of new missions done by the community (including the “Red Storm Rising” campaign by Bill Nichols) and to an interesting documentary about the USS Nautilus (where Mr. Nichols served). No new platforms, then, and no additions to the database: for these we will have to wait for some sort of official expansion by Sonalyst (still to be announced).

Graphics

The graphics are pleasant, but certainly not FPS quality. But that’s okay since that level of detail is unnecessary. In fact, I turned off the 3D images and still enjoyed the game immensely. The various maps give all sorts of excellent graphic representation and allow for a very high level of precision and detail. The one shortcoming is the fact that only the NTDS [Naval Tactical Data System] symbols are available in the map displays. While this is ultra-realistic, it would have been nice to see some more easily recognizable symbology or at least have that option available. It isn’t an impossible task to learn the NTDS icons, but not everyone is able to memorize the entire gamut of symbols, either. It is a game, after all, and not a vocation.

Sound

The music was varied and nice in the background, but I chose to turn it off after awhile. Luckily, the varied number of voices for the different platforms and situations did not deaden my senses with repetition. Normally, I turn off all voices, but this was not the case with DW. Although I turned off the music, the verbal cues and reports gave important information and did not end up as a continuous “Chatty-Cathy.”

The first mission in the “Red Storm Rising” campaign by Bill Nichols features the nightmare of every Navy commander: bringing your own ship out of the harbour without casualties – neither in your crew nor in all the innocent bystanders flitting around in their sailboats.

Documentation and Technical

Except for the occasional assault on the grammatical senses with the use of preposterous terms like "Functionality" and "Rate of Speed," the manual is very well organized, illustrated, and clear. In fact, unless you enjoy staring at *.PDF documents, I would say that the manual should be a compulsory purchase and not an optional one. Not only is the manual an asset to the game, it is a wealth of information on all aspects of submarine warfare.

Armchair General Rating: 85%

54/60 — Gameplay
14/20 — Graphics
08/10 — Sound
09/10 — Documentation and Technical

Pros: Detailed sensor modeling and Fog of War; High level of player control; Extensive Hotkey usage

Cons: More Hotkey usage needed – too much ‘clickology’; Lack of a Platform Editor

Bottom Line: This game is a must-have for any true naval grognard.

Discuss Dangerous Waters on the Armchair General forums.

 

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