Enigma: Rising Tide offers an alternate history where three giant factions -- the United States, Imperial Germany, and the League of Free Nations -- fought for supremacy on and under the oceans of Earth. Players take command of deck guns, launch torpedoes, and drop depth charges in furious naval combat. Submarines, destroyers, merchantmen, corvettes, and other vessels are available during the team-oriented tactical combat. Players use voice-activated commands and encrypted communiqués throughout missions assigned according to strategic concerns. Enigma's ocean physics adjust depending on the changing weather conditions.
The latest fad in the industry is the attempt to create genre hybrid games. Unfortunately, the ultimate results of these experiments are games that only succeed in being mediocre compilations of gameplay clichés. Enigma: Rising Tide, on the other hand, tastefully spices its core gameplay with elements from other gaming genres. By keeping these little twists in genre-crossing simple, Enigma succeeds in producing a well-crafted game with a simple, yet elegant, interface.
Even though Enigma offers a large selection of single-player options, there are single-mission patrols and six campaigns to keep you occupied. As you move through the missions in the campaign, you'll achieve a higher rank and move up to bigger and better boats. Eventually, you'll even be able to control an entire fleet.
If you love 'Das Boot', you'll positively soil yourself when you hop into the conning tower of your own U-boat for the first time. There are three factions from which to choose: American, German and League of Free Nations (Japan and British Navy in exile combined). Each faction offers a surface vessel campaign and a submersible campaign. Each of these is comprised of about eleven missions with various objectives. You'll be tasked with everything from destroying convoys to hunting enemy submarines.
Some of the ships in Enigma are intended to be true to real World War I - World War II era vessels, but the story within the game, which is told through newspaper headlines and navy communiqués, takes place in an alternate universe, where Germany won WWI and British Navy in exile has joined the Japs to form LFN, while USA's military is on the rise. The political situation is a little hard to understand, but it really doesn't matter. You'll just need to be pointed in the direction of the bad guys.
Enigma is easy to pick up and play, but it's hard to master, so newcomers will quickly be able to competently control all of the vessels in the game. As mentioned before, the control scheme is very simple and streamlined. AI routines can handle all of your guns in a fight while you handle the navigation, or if you're a control freak, you can assign each gun a different target. The same level of optional tinkering applies to fleet activities. Let the AI handle your allied ships or issue them simple orders yourself.
If only those orders could truly be issued using the voice command control. I really, really wanted the voice commands to work. How nice would it have been to engage in hands-free naval combat? Talk about immersing one in the experience of being a bridge commander! Woefully, the voice command just isn't tight enough to be used. Even with a high-quality microphone, my orders were not always picked up. On top of that, the voice commands just don't offer the level of control that the mouse and keyboard offer. When it did work, there was a slight delay before my orders were implemented, and that's just not good when you've got a Yank destroyer on your tail.
In case there's anybody out there who suffers from motion sickness, don't worry. There's an option to stabilize the camera. Without it, even hearty individuals could feel a little wobbly after extended play. In a way, that's a sign that Enigma's environments and physics are ship-of-the-line.
There's really nothing obviously wrong with Enigma. The ship models are good, but they're not great. This doesn't really matter when compared to their realistic capabilities and the overall gameplay. The music is suitably dramatic, and the best thing I can say about it is that you won't notice it after a while. The sound of 4" guns thumping away is all the music you'll need to accompany your maritime madness. If you're a diehard naval sim fan, you may be dismayed a bit by the lack of tweaking available to you, but that shouldn't be enough to put you off. The only thing you'll really miss is the multiplayer component.
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