If one were to rate Archimedean Dynasty based solely on the merits of its story, then it might not get that great a review. The story is of a future where mankind fouled up (yet again) with a nuclear war and sent countless souls either beneath the ocean waves or to their deaths. Luckily for us, Archimedean Dynasty isn't just about its story, which isn't bad overall. The main character of the story, a mercenary named Dead-Eye Flint, is also your alter ego. The game begins with Dead-Eye escorting some cargo for his present employer, El Topo. While escorting this seemingly normal cargo, you're attacked by a highly superior force, which not only takes your cargo, but also leaves you alive. I won't go into any more detail for the sake of not spoiling the story. Suffice it to say that it's pretty good. This story takes place in Aqua, which is the name of the undersea world that mankind has inhabited since the surface of the Earth became uninhabitable.
The presentation of said story occurs in two ways. The first, and more common way, is through conversations with NPCs. This is done through text-based conversation trees. While some might think this is archaic, it allows for a lot more variation in the conversation and story. Each location you'll visit usually has at least one person willing to talk to you. The interesting thing is that the characters you'll speak with will remember how you treated them, and might actually tell others about you. This means that you should be careful, as your reputation can definitely precede you. The other way the story is presented is through computer generated cut-scenes throughout the game.
If the game was only about the story, I would end this review right here. Fortunately, the game is all about combat, and in Archimedean Dynasty, combat is fast, fun, and furious. The game consists of some sixty odd missions that run the gambit from simple seek-and-destroy to escort missions. These missions are presented in one of the best engines for an underwater combat game ever seen. Archimedean Dynasty's engine fully models thermal layers, currents, water densities, and other niceties that all effect your combat performance. This fantastic engine really makes you think on your toes, as using the underwater landscape is key to success. There are few words that can describe the tense underwater slugfests that can occur among canyons, cities, valleys, and so on. The controls for your subs are both logical and easy to remember.
OSure, it fights great, but how does it look?Ó you ask me. Well, in a word, fabulous. This has to be the best visual representation of the big deep blue I've ever seen. Explosions occur as they should at depth, and your craft, torpedoes, and everything else look and act great. The game initially only used its software rendering engine, and while this was fantastic, users wanted more. Apparently, the developer, Massive, heard these pleas and later released a 3dfx enhancement patch for the game. This brought the visuals to a new high, as they look fantastic now. The visuals are one of the high points of the game.
If, however, there were a higher point to the game than the great game play and visuals, it's the sounds. This game has some of the best sound effects for its type of game. Everything, from underwater explosions to the whooshing of torpedoes sounds brilliantly effective. When ships collide, for example, the resulting clang sound is incredibly effective. The sounds really pull the player into the game, as they really are one of the game's high points.
One might think that, given my praise, this is an almost perfect game. Well, one would be mistaken. The game has a couple of blemishes that, while not serious, can be annoying. The inability to change the key commands. While the keyboard layout isn't hard, it'd be nice to be able to change it if necessary.
Overall, Archimedean Dynasty's strengths definitely outweigh its minor weaknesses. This game has it all, a good story, a likeable main character, great graphics, fabulous sound, and fun game play to boot. I'd have to say that if games like Wing Commander: Privateer, Elite, or Subwar: 2050 interest you, this game will definitely be your cup of tea.
Graphics: Gorgeous graphics.
Sound: AD has some of the best sound around.
Enjoyment: The game play is fun, but it's not easy at times.
Replay Value: The storyline is fairly linear, and while there are sub-quests, it's still pushing you in one direction.
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