Enigma: Rising Tide - game review

Date: 2004-03-16 06:19:00
The review was based on the PC version.

No other genre of computer games asks - as is the case with simulation games - to be created by enthusiasts. The difference between a simulator written out of the need for profit and a simulator grown out of the internal need to play it can be felt at the start. This is what is said about "Enigma" - a game from which every corner glance details that she is the child of her authors' love of the navy. It is thanks to the climate-creating details that you can not pass by this game indifferently - even if every day water is used to make tea, and for washing hands less often.

From the menu, through check-in before the mission, to the climate of combat, all elements of the game were designed with modeling attention to small things. There is nothing to count on any special fountains, but nowhere is the impropriety or ill-considered detail stinging out of nowhere. For this reason, "Enigma" reminds me of another great simulation related to World War II - "Panzer Elite".

Recently, the idea of creating an alternative story is fashionable. And in one game it turns out that in the Middle Ages the gap between the parallel worlds and the Holy Inquisition of cities hunt for heretics, deals with the fight against magical creatures, including bizarre human races. Another time we find ourselves in the twentieth century ruled by fascists after Hitler won World War II and Germany took over the actual control of the world. It is known for a long time that the most interesting fiction is the one that has the most points in common with reality, and by the way writing a story that has not happened relieves you of the obligation to know exactly which took place.

In "Enigma", the prevailing situation in the world is the result of Germany's victory in World War I, thanks to which it not only preserved and strengthened its imperial system of power, but above all took over the actual control over continental Europe. It is 1937. Tensions between the two powers are rising, but it is not about the German highway through Poland that virtually everyone has a grudge against everyone. Three camps are particularly disliked: the League of Free Nations uniting Great Britain and Japan, the USA and imperial Germany. The latter have their bases in Europe, US bases stretch from America through Ireland and Morocco to Singapore, and the Free Nations League occupies Hong Kong and Gibraltar outside of England and Japan. So there is noticeable confusion, and the fighting is ongoing from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Although nothing of what we will see in the game knocks down the excessive detail or extremely advanced technologies, but the special magic of modern sea battles beats off the screen. On the one hand, it is certainly the result of the romanticism of the sea adventure itself, which is not enough to spoil it, that would be good. On the other hand, there is a lot going on during the Enigma fights. The player often struggles with over a dozen enemy ships - alone to help with several units remaining under his orders; planes fly overhead, firing at ships and dropping bombs on them. The waves hit the sides, the onboard guns rotate in search of targets.

Even when nothing dangerous is happening for a long time, there is always a threat or a casualty on the horizon, fishfinders signal submarines, and the player nervously expects the reload of deep-sea bombs. The silence at sea is usually illusory and for a calm observation of the horizon through binoculars or periscope it wasn't used to be much time.

And besides ... the water is not particularly advanced, but nice and you can feel the depth that it hides. Ship models are also not dumbfounded with details, although they are happy to be observed in action: firing onboard cannons, submerged bombs, torpedoes cutting the surface of the sea. Above everything, there is a realistic sky - sunny or dripping rain. There is certainly a lack of people in all of this. Ship decks are empty, the machines operate themselves and the cranks of the interlocking cranks rotate by themselves. Nobody leaves lifeboats from the decks of sinking ships. Well.

The whole is complemented by wonderful game sound. Hard, precise sounds of running machines, hoarse hum of engines - differently audible on the surface, differently after immersion; waves crashing on the sides and howling alarm sirens; finally, perfectly performing three-dimensionality of sounds. I played "Enigma" with headphones on, and I had no trouble knowing where the planes were coming from, which of my deck guns were firing and which were lazy, and I was usually able to feel if the bomb would hit the deck, or into the water, just by hearing. The attractive music background, which consists of classical orchestral compositions enriched with accents from popular music, is not much less important for the game's atmosphere. Nice to listen to the whole thing.

"Enigma: Rising Tide" is not such hardcore simulators, for which the only sensible instruction manual appears pilot and similar manuals. However, it is impossible to start the game without undergoing at least several training missions and studying the functions of on-board devices and keyboard shortcuts. There are not many of them, but it will be too late during the fight. In the educational field, the game works quite well, because it gives you the opportunity to take part in dozens of missions with a minimal level of difficulty. During their time, the player gains the opportunity to become familiar with each of the available types of ships, and his opponents will show a level of commitment to fighting in the likeness of fallen ducks.

But the further into the forest, the more trees. The player can take part in two campaigns (surface and underwater fleet) on each of the three sides of the conflict. Each campaign is only ten missions leading to the final victory, but there is nothing for free here. Each mission is a difficult journey, precise planning and no less accurate implementation of the objectives. Disinvolence or underestimation of the opponent's computer intelligence avenger cruelly because "Enigma" does not allow you to save the game during the mission.

Taste is added before the missions briefing in the form of classic descriptions of situations that will be faced with the designated targets for the attack and threats that should be taken into account. During the game, you can count on information that approximates the status of the crew, taking into account their morale, and between battles the player has the opportunity to review the headlines of newspapers that react dynamically to the changing political situation.

"Enigma" presents a satisfactory level of realism, but its authors put great emphasis on not boring the player and praise them for that. The ship's control is limited to setting the engine power and rudder direction, and it is possible to leave these details automatically and stop at setting routes directly on the radar screen. This one is also not a super realistic copy of authentic devices, because it collects data from various sources, including fishfinder. With this approach, the player is released in browsing several screens for information.

During the fight, it is easy to focus on tactical maneuvers that are not disturbed by thinking about technical details. Similarly, operating on-board cans can be left to the artificial intelligence of the program, which, moreover, in the selection of targets, especially airborne ones, and in hitting them does much better than a little experienced player.

It remains to have fun playing tactics. Sailing on various vessels - from corvette, through torpedo boats and destroyers to submarines. Fight against various ships and enemy aircraft. Escaping from torpedoes, throwing deep bombs, defending against planes, emergency ascent and draft. Taking care of the air for the crew and the state of charge of the batteries in submarines. Even when relative calmness occurs for some time, there is no reason to be bored, because usually you always wait for a moment.

The relatively short period of game production is the result of, among others, borrowed technologies that were used in it. The two main ones are the Alchemy engine from Intrinsic and the object modeling technology from Arete. These are no technical wonders, but they perfectly support the realistic atmosphere of a war game. Storms and the sky reflecting in the water, as well as spectacular explosions, slow sinking into the depths of sunken units and still working bolts, when the stern is rising above the water surface, are asking for memories.

A noticeable downside is the lack of a damage model for ships, because their condition is only indicated by clouds of smoke beating the sky from the deck of the hit unit and a laconic damage indicator. What's more, damage to ships does not affect their combat efficiency - it works fine until the damage reaches its maximum. Then the ship sinks.

Particularly interesting for the captain of the warship is the possibility of issuing oral orders. In "Enigma" this idea works well as most of the game comes down to controlling the ship and assigning goals, and everything happens without undue haste. And what joy instead of clicking on the menu, shout loudly: all back! It's just that with this "all back" maybe without exaggeration, because the voice recognition system has not been polonized ...

An additional advantage of the Polish edition of "Enigma: Rising Tide" are two games in the full version: the second part of "Pacific Warriors" and the third part of "Search and Rescue". Both of these games are not related to the subject of "Enigma", but they are commercial products in themselves and thus a good gift.

All of the above makes "Enigma: Rising Tide" a highly recommendable game. It offers the perfect combination of simulation and action. Thanks to the difficult challenges, which will often require a lot of effort from players, it is also able to provide a lot of satisfaction. The more that the struggle with the enemy will come in a noticeably realistic world. Despite a few elements that ask for expansion, it is undoubtedly a very attractive game.

Shuck