Genre: Underwater Action/Adventure
Release Date: 10/12/2002
Underwater action/adventure games have rarely fared well in the past, most of the time these types of games tend to be too complicated or too slow-paced, thus relegating them into an obscure sub-genre with an unimpressive fan-base. Luckily, Sub Rebellion doesn’t fall into one of those categories and instead delivers an experience that is surprisingly entertaining. Learning the controls is relatively simple and the combat-based action can get pretty intense. But despite its solid execution, Sub Rebellion comes off as a straightforward and somewhat generic action game that has its moments.
Sub Rebellion takes place in the mid-22nd century where devastating earthquakes have thrown the world into a state of chaos. With nearly every piece of land submerged, civilization has no choice but to adapt. Those who survived the seismic events have had to pull together, forming an alliance known simply as the “Allied Forces”. The purpose for this makeshift-union: to combat the Empire, a weapon-manufacturing corporation whose leaders have decided to take over the world since they are the ones packing the proverbial gun. Outnumbered, outgunned, and out in the cold, the Allied Forces have been working on something that may very well leverage the war in their favor: an advanced battle submarine codenamed the “Chronos”. You’ll pilot this one-man contraption through a multitude of missions, collecting relics of the past and combating the forces of an evil empire.
Getting around in the Chronos will take some getting used to but the average gamer should have little trouble feeling comfortable in the driver’s seat. You’ll be able to pilot your sub in full-3D, moving both horizontally and vertically. It isn’t a point-in-the-direction-you-want-to-go affair but considering the complexity of some other underwater games, Sub Rebellion does a commendable job of maintaining believable physics while keeping the game play accessible to a wide audience. Though the vertical ascending and descending maneuvers which are mapped to the R1 and R2 buttons, respectively, feels out of place and awkward.
Getting around is one thing but seeing everything that is around you is another, in the murky underwater environments of Sub Rebellion you’ll need to rely on the sub’s sonar device, which effectively pings the surroundings, giving you a visual wire frame description of what lies in wait. As you progress through a mission you’ll come to find that the sonar device is key to efficiently locating enemies, buried relics, and other crucial details. It is a cool effect that manages to prove itself as an intuitive game play addition, despite its initially gimmicky feel.
Combat is a key focus in Sub Rebellion, and running away from fights is the best way to ensure a quick death. Luckily, you are supplied with an infinite amount of ammo for your main weapon, a rapid-fire needle gun. But enemies won’t always easily roll over and when this is the case you’ll need to take advantage of torpedoes. Torpedoes can be locked on to multiple enemies, and multiple torpedoes can be locked on to a single enemy. Holding the square button will change your targeting reticule to a lock-on sight and by moving the crosshairs over an enemy it will automatically lock-on, letting go of the square button will release the torpedoes. When the Chronos is raised to the surface of the water your two basic weapons will then take the form of a machine gun and missiles, which can be locked on to flying opponents in the same way torpedoes can be locked on to underwater enemies.
Options for upgrading your offensive and defensive capabilities will become available as you progress throughout the game, discovering more relics and completing more missions. None of these upgrades drastically affects the game play but they do help out in particularly threatening situations where large-scale firepower is the order of the day. Between missions you’ll also be able to customize seven different areas of your sub with various parts and pieces that are tailored for particular circumstances.
The missions you’ll find yourself in vary from simple search-and-destroy objectives, to escort missions, to finding ancient artifacts, and defending vital structures. You’ll usually start out with one or two objectives but as you progress the mission log will be updated or changed depending on the situation. This helps to keep the action feeling fresh, though the basis of most objectives relies almost exclusively on fighting. The occasional boss fights will keep your trigger finger busy as they are all satisfyingly challenging and sometimes require a boatload of ammo to destroy. Each mission that you complete will net you a certain amount of cash, which can then be used to purchase various upgrades.
Visually, Sub Rebellion is noticeably lacking in detail and style. The Chronos, which is touted in the game as the most advanced submergible ship ever, is almost completely devoid of any high-tech distinguishing marks and instead looks more like a traditional submarine. The animation runs at a solid clip though, and the various baddies sport some interesting designs. Explosion effects are adequately believable and each weapon has its own unique payload, which can be pretty cool-looking. The developers did a great job in the sound department. All the sound effects for things like submerging the Chronos, firing torpedoes, and enemy explosions are surprisingly realistic, though the radio chatter can be a bit tedious. The soundtrack, which is reminiscent of theatrical orchestrations, is entirely fitting to the on-screen action and lends itself nicely to the climatic story that Sub Rebellion purports.
Overall, Sub Rebellion is a great game as far as underwater shooters are concerned but gamers with more of a taste for fast-paced adrenaline-inducing action may be disappointed to find that this game takes a deliberate and unhurried approach to the genre. This may not be a drink for all ages, but as was the case with me, you may find that the methodic progression style and strategic combat opportunities will grow on you. It isn’t perfect but it’s definitely worth checking out.