Deep Black: Episode 1 (XBLA) (2012)
Not Rated Biart Games/505 Games |

Review By: Fusion3600 | May 8th, 2012

Plot: What’s it about?

While first person shooters have all but taken over video games, I still prefer a third perspective, as seen in Mass Effect and Gears of War. While the retail space has a good amount of third person shooters, the downloadable space seems more focused on competitive first person shooters. Deep Black: Episode 1 adds a third person installment to the Live Arcade and a campaign driven one at that. As soon as I heard about a campaign based third person shooter on the Live Arcade, I couldn’t wait to check it out, but does Deep Black: Episode 1 deliver? The campaign tasks you to step into the boots of a Special Ops soldier named Pierce, who finds himself in the midst of a terrorist plot. You have to assault a terrorist stronghold and put an end to their plans, as they are about to release a powerful virus via the world’s water supplies. The story unfolds in comic book style panels, which is quite cool and adds some nice flair to the experience.

Deep Black: Episode 1 throws you into the deep water, literally as most of the combat takes place underwater. This is a nice change of pace and while some games have tried underwater levels, Deep Black keeps you submerged almost the entire duration. Not that you’ll notice a lot of difference, as the mechanics are similar to other shooters, so don’t think the combat is turned upside down because of the unusual setting. You still wield the usual arsenal of shotguns, assault rifles, and such, but one big addition is your trusty harpoon weapon. You can use the harpoon to damage enemies outside your optimal range, as well as to activate switches to progress through the levels. A small, well implemented mechanic that adds to the experience and ensures Deep Black: Episode 1 doesn’t feel like just another shooter. You’re able to use cover and that system works well, while transitions between land and water flow as smooth as silk, great work there.
Ok, so we’re under the water and we have an awesome harpoon, but is the game fun? To cut to the chase, yes Deep Black: Episode 1 is a very fun game. Fans of the genre will have a blast with this, as it feels familiar but has some fresh elements that keep you on your toes. The harpoon is a lot of fun to unleash and while not a massive game innovation, it helps Deep Black: Episode 1 stand out and new toys are always welcome. I also appreciated the simple, yet effective design approach, as it just lets you shoot and not worry about gimmicks of whatever kind. While bells & whistles can be fun and add depth to a game, sometimes you just want to shoot people and enjoy a cool story. That is what Deep Black: Episode 1 delivers. I am sure we’ve all played more shooters than we could count, but Deep Black: Episode 1 is one you’ll want to add to your list.

Video: How does it look?

This might be a downloadable release, but the visuals are quite impressive. The water effects really shine and that is crucial, since the underwater combat is a big design element. The lighting also stands out as memorable, again due in part to how well it meshes into the water effects. The environments are well detailed, but fall into the dark and drab routine that most shooters take root in. Even so, the visuals still deserve a lot of praise, as the game looks great.

Audio: How does it sound?

I wasn’t bowled over by the sound design, but it gets the job done. The voice work is good, but tends to be repetitive and often cues in the wrong moments. The guns sound good, which is important in this kind of game, while the general background audio is fine, if not memorable. Not a sound design you’ll rave about, but it is more than competent.

Disc Features
  • (1.78:1) Aspect Ratio
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Audio Commentary
  • Deleted Scene(s)
  • Featurette
  • Documentary
  • Digital Copy
  • 1 Disc Set
Deep Black: Episode 1 (XBLA)