2007 Reviews

Red Ocean

  • Review Date: 2011-09
  • Release Date: 2007-03
  • Developer: Collision Studios
  • Rating: 4.5

Red Ocean is as close to a Quake 2 mission pack with an enhanced graphics engine as you are going to get in 2007. I liken it to a mission pack because that's really all this game is, or feels like. It's seven levels long, so Red Ocean will only take about five hours. I played through the entire game in a single sitting.

The levels are basically corridors and rooms of various sizes, all of which looks pretty similar. There's no outdoors, no non-linear exploration, no set-pieces. It's just cookie cutter old skool game design from the late 90's. It's hard to tell what the engine is capable of, because the levels are so short and cramped. There's a few expected post-processing effects such as blurring and the lighting is okay, but nothing that special that doesn't exist in any other top shooter for the few years before Red Ocean's 2007 release.

The gameplay is also very old skool with similar enemies just with different guns. There are some positives about old skool though - quicksaving for one, but you also get to carry and use a full arsenal of weapons. I used every single weapon in the game quite often, and they're all fairly fun to use. Sure they have their problems; they're quite slow and even the machine guns fire rounds too slow, almost as if they're projectile weapons. But I was still quite satisfied to get to use all the weapons, instead of so many modern games limiting you to carrying a couple of weapons at a time - which of course you only ever carry the most useful ones. And the shotgun in Red Ocean is actually really fun to use!

The enemy A.I. is thick as shit. Half-Life had better A.I. than this ten years ago. But the enemy fire can do some damage quite quickly, so the game is challenging at times. The problem with the difficulty progression is that the first level is probably the hardest of all when you've only got the useless handgun. Once you have a full range of weapons halfway through the game things start to get a little easier.

One thing I really have to criticise is that selling point of this game; namely the water, is non-existant. There's maybe two sections in the entire game where you go underwater, which only last for thirty seconds. That's it. The rest of the game is completely dry. The artists and designers couldn't even design some underwater ocean views in this supposedly underwater military complex. At least they could have thrown in a window with an underwater skybox behind it! As it is, the base could be in the Nevada desert or anywhere on earth. It would still be the same ugly corridor crawler.

Red Ocean is not really a game you'd expect to pay money for in 2007. It's only mission pack length and the gameplay and level design belongs in the 90's and early 2000's. Having said that, I quite enjoy going back and playing the old custom missions for Quake II, and this is basically what Red Ocean is; just with a slightly better engine and no Strogg. If you can track down a free version online (it's not hard with a google search), it's only a 215mb download (cut scenes not included though) so give it a shot if your bored and with an open mind you might actually enjoy it. I did!