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Mission: Deep Sea
by Chris Thomas on Sunday 17th Jan 2010

We wonder what the NSPCA would have to say about reptilian mind control?

If I wanted to get a job done a turtle is probably going to be quite far down the list of species I turn to for help, in fact they would be near the bottom of the list down there with snails and hedgehogs. Turtles aren’t exactly renowned for their speed; I think I’d be best off donning some flippers and getting things done myself. Nevertheless in 2015 mankind has become even lazier than we currently are and have discovered a way to control reptiles remotely. At this point humanity must have figured why get off the couch when we can make Master Splinters’ disciples swim about the murky depths finding our misplaced military apparatus. Such is the setting for Chillingo’s recently published game Mission: Deep Sea.

Taking control of a turtle Mission: Deep Sea tasks you with accomplishing various tasks that range from locating lost sunken missiles to placing a tracking device on the back of a giant manta. All told the 5 missions are fairly straight forward and, at times, tedious. They can almost always be solved by simply following the radar to reach the set goal. One mission in particular, mission 4 “Reliefs” really feels like it was thrown together in a lunch break as it see’s you swimming around the exact same area as the previous mission doing a simpler version of the same task. In fairness though, the draw with this game for most won’t be the gameplay but the uniqueness of both its setting and control scheme, something which seduced us from the moment we read about it in the game’s description on the App Store.

The camera isn’t quite a first person perspective; instead it’s more like a camera has been physically mounted onto the shell of the turtle. This gives you a decent view of the surroundings and lets you see your turtles head and flippers as you make your way around the environment. There are two control schemes; touch and tilt, but touch is the interesting choice of the two. Each half of the screen represents each of the two powerful flippers belonging to the turtle. To move forward put both thumbs into the centre of the screen and pull them both outwards to the side, it’s almost like performing a miniature breaststroke with your thumbs. If you wish to turn simply perform the action with one thumb or to turn very sharply swipe both fingers to the same side of the screen. You can ascend or descend through the water by pulling your thumbs down or up as you pull them to the side. The whole system feels very analogous and we must commend the developers at Hiccup Studios for being so inventive.

Graphically Mission: Deep Sea has a lot going for it; the texturing in particular is superb with some of the best subaqueous sand I have ever seen in an iPhone game. The turtle is well animated and will look around as you navigate the environments, occasionally stretching out to gobble up any unfortunate jellyfish that get in the way. Similarly the environments themselves look very nice with interesting structures all built with enough detail to make exploring them compelling. Where Mission: Deep Sea does let itself down is in its draw distance. It is frustratingly short. While this may be very realistic, after all light doesn’t travel so well deep under water, its unfortunate in a video game that relies on its visuals and environment to stay interesting.

Mission: Deep Sea is mostly enjoyable thanks to its interesting controls and great setting, sadly the worst part of the game is actually… well, playing it. There are only 5 missions in total and not one of them is especially exciting or fun. If anything Mission: Deep Sea feels more like a proof of concept than a full game. Indeed now that the ground work has been done and Hiccup Studios have this great swimming mechanic in the bag I very much hope that they craft a sequel that endeavours to push the boat out (harhar) a bit more. With more interesting and varied levels Mission: Deep Sea could become an irresistible proposition. As it stands it’s a short, quirky and somewhat disappointing attempt at doing something different. Almost but not quite there yet.

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  • Sound: 7
  • Graphics: 7
  • Gameplay: 5
  • Longevity: 4



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