(XBLA) Undertow- A Review Under the Sea

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So, I am here providing you with a review of the aquatic-shooter from Chair Entertainment, Undertow.  Does it stack up as one of the more high quality Live Arcade games out there? How does it stand out in terms of playability? Well if you’d like to learn about these things and more, read on and enjoy the review.

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to fight a battle of the ages underwater. Having the ability to control different races and race to acquire control points or wipe out the enemies army. To be able to control the ocean depths with nothing to stand in your way. To have an adventure in these waters that I will certainly not forget. Well folks, what I just described is the basic jist of just what Undertow is. A first for developer, Chair Entertainment, Undertow is licensed under Unreal Engine 3. Something I believe is a pretty big deal. Undertow brings us nothing less but sheer quality and entertainment in this aquatic-shooter.

When you first enter the game, the first thing you’ll notice is that its played completely on a 2D plane. Which is great because we need as many of those games as possible in this community. The second thing I hope you’ll take a gander at, is the wonderfully vibrant and colorful 3D graphics that bring the wonderful ocean deep to life. It is certainly inspiring to see how the developer here was able to craft these two planes together and give us jaw-dropping textures and lighting effects all in the right places. There aren’t any glaring glitches or hiccups that could be spotted with the naked eye.

With enough depth to fill a casual gamers heart full, there is a bit of hardcore love thrown in there as well. Undertow gives you the chance to take control of 3 different races (Alantian, Nemoidian, Iron Marine) along with choosing 1 of 4 unit types (Marine, Corsair, Destroyer and Dragoon). With your race and unit selected you are thrusted into battle as you must take control of as many enemy bases as possible. There is no time limit here, but only a max army unit that you should keep track of as those units can diminish pretty quickly in the heat of battle. The first player to control all bases or wipe out the others army, wins. To add to the depth of the title, you can upgrade your units after defeating your enemies while in battle to gain the better advantage in the end.

Undertow follows a fairly interesting plotline. Although, it is pretty linear and straightforward, its easy to follow along. Characters are about as flat as you can come by, but its not exactly something that carries much weight in the over all picture. It’s mostly used as something that keeps the campaign moving and pushes you back into the action.

The control scheme has a pretty easy set up. With the left control stick you control your unit in its basic direction. For the right control you fire your weapons in any direction needed, you are given unlimited ammo, so you don’t have to worry about finding ammo boxes…etc. To add to the fun, you can dart away from the battle using the right trigger and boost with speed using the X button. To change your unit before you re-spawn into the fight, just press any direction on the d-pad.

Undertow boasts a respectible 15 level single and 2 player co-op campaign, along with two multiplayer modes (team conquest and deathmatch). One of the first titles to support 16 players in multiplayer to add to the fun of those multiplayer modes. 200 achievement points in totlal are awarded when completing various objectives.  A congratulations to Chair Entertainment, for keeping all of this under the 50 mb constraint.

Finally, I would like to add that if you’re looking for a title that’s easy to pick up and play, give you that warm feeling in your stomach, Undertow might be just what you’re looking for. As I said, it’s a title built for the casual gamer at heart, but with a little hardcore love thrown in. I hope you won’t have any regrets spending your MS points on this title.

Jereme “Restless Devil” Puik

One Response

  1. correction, i know online u can do 4 player co-op.

    and to throw my two cents in, i got the game (free) and i love it, mix between battlefield and a dualstik shooter. i highly suggest the title if that intrests you.

    great review btw!

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