Steel Diver review
Steel Diver

The good:

+Challenging Missions
+Great use of Gyroscope
+Addicting Steel Commander Mode

The bad:

-Too short
-3D effect adds little value
-Limited Multi-player


This video game will be review on the following criteria:
Game Play 35%
Graphics 25%
Plot 10%
Sound/Music 10%
Replay Ability 20%

This is a submarine simulator for the Nintendo 3DS that comes up short of its $39.99 price tag.

Game Play: Steel Diver offers three modes: Missions, Periscope Strike, and Steel Commander. Missions offer two choices for play: Campaign and Time Trials. In the campaign, a player has seven missions to complete. Each mission has some objectives. Almost all of those missions involve piloting a submarine from point A to point B. Sometimes, a player maybe required to destroy a sea creature or an enemy ship.

Speaking of submarines, Players are offered the choice of three submarines to complete the mission: The Manatee (Compact), The Blue Shark (MidSize), and The Serpent (Large). Each sub has its advantages and disadvantages. The compact sub is easier to steer, but it’s weak offensively with one forward torpedo and one vertical torpedo. The midsize has a little more punch than the compact, and the large sub boasts the most firepower. However, the large sub is also the hardest to control. These subs also come with their own captain, but the captains play no role since players control the subs.

The subs are controlled through the touch screen. Having all controls on the touch screen was a mistake. It is challenging to try to steer a sub by having to switch front the speed control to the dive control on the touch screen. There is a definite learning curve here. Campaign mode also offers a training session. After each successful mission, players are offered a brief periscope strike session to earn decals to add to high scores. I find the missions enjoyable and somewhat challenging, but there are too few missions, especially for a fully priced game. Time Trials are straight forward: pilot a sub from point A to point B within the time limit without being destroyed.

The second mode is Periscope Strike. The mode uses the Nintendo 3DS’ gyroscope. A player will move, and the periscope view will move with him or her. The objective is to sink the enemy ships or submarines in the shortest amount of time possible. There will be enemy fire. Although a player cannot be destroyed, any shells or torpedoes that hit will cause a leak. Leaks immobilize a player, and he or she will need to fix the leak on the touch screen before going back to the hunt. Therefore, leaks cost seconds when trying to beat a high score. Shells and torpedoes can be avoided by using the dive lever on the touch screen. There is also a lever to zoom in and out. Periscope Strike has three scenarios: Ships during the day with calm weather (easiest), Ships in a storm (harder), and enemy subs (most difficult). Periscope Strike is a good pick up and play mode for the easy controls, but it may grow old if played too much.

The final mode is Steel Commander. This is the only mode with a multi-player option in the entire game. This is a shame given the new connectivity options that have come with the 3DS. A player can only “beam” this mode to another 3DS owner. The entire game could have made use of the internet or StreetPass. Anyway, Steel Commander is a like board game. There are nine maps to choose, but some of those maps need to be unlocked. Each map is divided into two sides with several hexagonal cells. Each map has a different layout for rock formations, and each map has button on the touch screen to change the arrangement of the units. It would have been nice to place units where one would want. Each side is given a sub, 14 escort ships, and 5 freighter ships.

The object of the game is to either sink the enemy sub or sink all 5 enemy freighter ships. Subs are the only units that can cross into enemy territory, and escort ships and the enemy sub can attack your sub. The escort ships are separated into four groups with one group having five ships and the rest having three ships in a group. The presence of an enemy ship or sub will show on the grid as a pink cell with a question mark. You may use your sub’s sonar to pin point the location of enemy ships. However, there are drawbacks to using sonar: Enemy escort ships will know where your sub is. You cannot tell what kind of ships your sonar has found, and the enemy may move a group of ships to a different cell to avoid attack. When attacking with your sub, you are given four torpedoes to use to sink ships or possibly the enemy sub through use of the periscope. When attacking the enemy sub with your escort ships with depth charges, you are given the choice of three depths: 50m, 100m, and 150m. The enemy sub is given the same choice. If you guess right, the enemy sub will take damage, but if you guess wrong, the enemy sub can counterattack or flee. Roles are reversed when your sub is attacked by enemy escort ships. This is fun game of cat and mouse where the hunter can turn into the hunted in an instant.

Overall, I like the game play, although I could use of used more stuff as noted in this game (3.5/5.0)

Graphics: The graphics for this game are on par or a bit better than most of the DS games out there. I like the backgrounds for the mission mode, but I don’t like the simplicity of the periscope views. I would like to see more detail here. But, what about the 3D effect? I found the 3D slider add little to this game. Yes, there is a little more depth in the periscope view. Yes, the background appears deeper for the mission mode. But, it does little to enhance the game play, and it adds little value to the graphics. Since the 3D effect is supposed to be a main selling point, the developers could have done a better job to include it. (2.5/5.0)

Plot: There is actually a plot to this game. A world at war must call upon the steel divers to bring peace. The plot in this game has little role in the campaign. It seems to be thrown into the game as an afterthought. (1.0/5.0)

Music/Sound: The music is fine. It doesn’t become annoying or tiresome. This is a good thing since you can’t turn off the music in an option menu. The same can be said for the sound effects. (3.0/5.0)

Replay Ability: For most of this game, you can try to beat your best time. The other thing to do is challenge friend or the A.I. to a round of Steel Commander. Of all the options, Steel Commander is the least likely to become tiresome, but the other options hold little incentive to beat your best time. (2.5/5.0)

Summary I like this game, but there is so much room for improvement. I feel it is not worth the 39.99 price tag. I would highly recommend renting it if possible.
Final Score
3.5 x .35 = 1.225
2.5 x .25 = 0.625
1.0 x .10 = 0.1
3.0 x .10 = 0.3
2.5 x .20 = 0.5
Sum = 2.75

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