AquaNox

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AquaNox (from Latin: aqua - "water" and nox - "night") is a series of submarine-based shooter/simulation games set in the distant future. The collection includes AquaNox, AquaNox 2: Revelation and AquaNox: The Angel's Tears. The predecessor and the starter of the series is the MS-DOS title Archimedean Dynasty.

Concept[edit]

In the middle of the 22nd century, raw materials on earth became increasingly scarce and as the end of the resources loomed, people began to prospect for resources on the ocean floor. This resulted in the construction of mining stations beneath the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans. Many countries set up these deep-sea stations where workers and engineers extracted the oceans' treasures. Nevertheless, the output was far from enough to cover an ever-increasing demand. When the natural resources on Earth's surface were depleted, a time of destruction and wars began. In the fight over the planet's last remaining resources, alliances fell apart, countries became hostile and old conflicts flared up.

With increasing cruelty and senselessness, man destroyed the very basis of life on the surface of the earth. After a series of resource wars, nuclear weapons completed the destruction that man had not yet finished with his industrial pollution. When the last glimmer of hope for humanity's survival was extinguished, people fled into the depths of the oceans.

The former extraction stations became the last refuge of those fortunate enough to be able to pay the price of entry into the underwater world. The poorest of the poor were left behind, condemned to die in a desolate world polluted by radioactivity. Life outside the oceans became impossible as the continents were flooded by rising sea levels and a harsh nuclear winter covered most of the oceans and the shrinking surface landmass of the planet with a layer of radioactive dust, snow and ice many meters thick. A 40-meter thick layer of dead organic matter, the so-called POM layer, covered the oceans. Not a single ray of sunlight penetrated the dense particulate layer that plunged the world into a darkness like none other. Nevertheless, mankind rose one last time to a new life, the only life, in a dead new world. This world was humanity's creation, and was now called Aqua. The following events take place in the middle of the 27th century.

Today, in the year 2661, mankind lives in gigantic cities underwater. Aqua is divided into political power blocs, such as the Aquatoria of the capitalistic, democratically governed Atlantic Federation, the oligarchy of the Arabic Clans Union and the monarchist Russo-Japanese Shogunate. In the South Pacific lies the Tornado Zone, stirred up by surface storms, where an anarchist pack of mercenaries, pirates, buccaneers and outlaws gathers, ever ready to sell their friends and their souls.

A single company has long ago monopolized many industries necessary for human survival underwater—EnTrOx, which stands for "Energy-Transportation-Oxygen". New technologies allow extremely fast underwater travel. However, many old technologies are lost or have become useless. For example, due to the high amounts of fallout in the atmosphere, satellite communication and global positioning are impossible, although some organizations are looking for ways to restore these abilities.

The player's task is to complete a series of story-related combat missions. During the course of the missions additional support and story elements are revealed by the secondary characters. The enemies range from hostile vessels to alien or artificial life-forms such as bionts.

Episodes[edit]

The Aquanox series include the following games, listed by the release in a chronological order:

Archimedean Dynasty[edit]

Archimedean Dynasty
Archimedean Dynasty Coverart.jpg
Developer(s) Massive Development
Publisher(s) Blue Byte Software
Platform(s) MS-DOS
Release date(s)
  • EU November 1996
  • NA April 4, 1997
Genre(s) Submarine Flight simulator
Mode(s) Single Player

Archimedean Dynasty (German: Schleichfahrt, meaning silent running) was the first of the "Aqua series", developed by Massive Development and published by Blue Byte Software in 1996.

Plot[edit]

The plot develops around a mercenary named Emerald "Deadeye" Flint, who takes up a seemingly simple task to escort a cargo ship, transporting the nearly worthless delivery of sulfur, through quiet waters. Shortly after the beginning of the voyage, the protagonist becomes the sole hostage after an anarchistic group of Shogunate mercenaries raid the convoy. However, he is released by their leader, Hong Long, who is a well-known arch-enemy of, and has formed a love–hate relationship with the protagonist after helping him escape prison.

Emerald "Deadeye" Flint is soon picked up by a freighter and dropped off in Magellan where his first mission is to bring himself and an attache to Emerald's boss, El Topo's base in a rusty old ship named 'Hiob'. After the player completes several missions as repayment to El Topo for the failure of the escort mission, the player is ordered to move to another location to look for a mercenary to assist him in obtaining the black box of the submarine Big Fat Mama.

Eventually the player's ship is replaced by a faster scout called the 'Gator'. As the player continues to progress through the main story line his ship is replaced two more times, first by the slightly sluggish Atlantic Federation bomber 'Zorn', which introduces the player to a ship with significantly greater firepower. Finally the player ends up in a prototype EnTrOx bomber called 'Succubus', which is the fastest and most advanced submarine in Aqua. The Succubus gets confiscated from EnTrOx after their CEO is impeached and the company dissolved to end their monopoly on and control over Aqua's energy, transport, and oxygen resources.

After several other missions, the player encounters a mysterious mothership during a simple recon mission that is traveling at higher speeds than any other submarine in Aqua. As the game progresses, they encounter more and more scouts of similar make, dubbed Bionts, due to the ships being of a bionic build where pilot and machine are fused together. In one mission, the player is required to paralyse a Biont scout (using EMP weapons) and allow the group to analyse the ship. Near the end of the game a great war breaks out between the Bionts and humans. During the war, the player's last mission is to escort Hong Long who sacrifices herself in order to destroy the main control entity of the Bionts called Survion.

Gameplay[edit]

The game splits up into a series of primary and secondary missions, which allow the player to proceed in the storyline as well as earn additional funds. Those 'credits' can then be used to upgrade the various vessels owned by Emerald 'Deadeye' Flint with a huge array of offensive and defensive upgrades, such as additional, and/or more powerful primary weapons, torpedoes and torpedo storage and turret command software, generators, hull plating, Buzzers (technically underwater flares to break a torpedo's lock on your ship), noise reduction technology, a booster, and a fixer.

The control of the game is designed for the use of a joystick. The player is confronted with maneuvering through narrow canyons, deep sea currents and enemy fire. You can also use your keyboard W is forward A is back or brake. Hitting W twice will give you a boost in acceleration if you have the 'Booster' installed.

Reception[edit]

Chris Hudak of GameSpot praised the game's open-endedness, also noting that this, combined with the sheer number of tactical options available could be very confusing to some players.[1]

AquaNox[edit]

AquaNox
AquaNox Coverart.jpg
Developer(s) Massive Development
Publisher(s) Fishtank Interactive
Engine KRASS© engine
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
Release date(s) 30 November 2001
Genre(s) Futuristic Sub Sim
Mode(s) Single-player, Multi-player

The player once again jumps into the role of Emerald "Deadeye" Flint. After the Bionts are defeated, Flint goes back to being a mercenary as a leader of a Biont-hunting task-force. Things turn for the worse when his submarine, the Succubus, is stolen on one of the stations. The game begins with one of Flint's dubious acquaintances giving him an old, barely working sub and several missions to get him started.

Throughout the game, Flint earns money by completing missions, allowing him to purchase better subs, weapons and equipment. The new equipment appears throughout the game, available for purchase, as the player progress in the storyline. Generally speaking, the player is allowed to buy a new boat and a new set of weaponry per chapter. While on stations, Flint can speak with various characters in order to get new missions and deepen the atmosphere of the game.

The former system of upgrading the vessel with a variety of defensive turrets has been simplified by fixing the player's view to the cockpit as well as permitting the usage of only two on hull installed cannons. As the result of this change, the controls of the submarine have been adapted to the first-person shooter's mouse-based layout, removing the need for the joystick, thus the game has compromised its tactical depth in order to increase the insensitivity of combat. This change has raised critique among the reviewers, stating that the developers' focus fell inadequately on the visual performance rather than the actual gameplay of its predecessor.

...But while Archimedean Dynasty was a complex, mission-based simulation with trading and privateering, AquaNox is an arcade-style action game that abandons or greatly simplifies those elements. Combat is fast paced and more similar in style to Quake's, or even a rail shooter's, than it is to the more tactical battles in other underwater sims.

Desslock (2001-11-30). "AquaNox Review". Gamespot.com. 

The game was one of the first applications to fully use the T&L effects by supporting the NVIDIA Geforce 3 Ti graphics accelerator.

Considering the game engine has been used for months to market Nvidia's flagship GeForce 3 video card, it's no surprise that the graphics are outstanding. The game has been designed to take advantage of all the high-end capabilities of the GeForce and its latest generation of cards, and the environments look amazing as a result. Textures are colourful and extremely detailed, and there are numerous little graphical touches, such as chips that flake off underwater hills hit by your projectile weapons.

Desslock (2001-11-30). "AquaNox Review". Gamespot.com. 

The game includes a vast amount of true information on oceans, such as origins of different species, their specifics and man's adaptation to submarine life. The game manual consists of two chapters explaining various terms and facts that have been mentioned throughout the course of the story.

AquaNox 2: Revelation[edit]

AquaNox 2: Revelation
Developer(s) Massive Development
Publisher(s) Encore Software, Inc., JoWood Productions
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
Release date(s) 22 August 2003
Genre(s) Futuristic Sub Sim
Mode(s) Single player

The plot of the game is based around William Drake, the last remnant of the old aristocratic, industrialist family. After the bankrupt of the familial industry and the death of the protagonist's grandmother, young William Drake sets 'sail' for open seas on the last freighter of the Drake Enterprises. The cargo ship soon gets taken over by a group of mercenaries, while Drake rushes out to answer a distress call. While sparing his life, the group of seven invaders seize control of the boat, thus binding Williams' fate to their own. The protagonist sees no other options than to unite himself with his new crew, hoping for the best.

The game features a total of four unique, playable and upgradeable gunships. For the completion of the game the player will most likely switch boats depending on the mission's content. While certain missions will require speed and stealth, others will virtually enforce the presence of a heavy arsenal and thick plating. The game features a large variety of projectile armament as well as a set of torpedoes and a collection of energy based weaponry, including lasers and EMP launchers. While most weapons aren't necessarily at odds with the game's underwater environments, the presence of laser-based arms decreases the plausibility of such fights. The torpedo combat is similar to the missile engagements of most flight simulators and space shooters, where the pilot is expected to release flares and perform classic evasion manoeuvres.

The transportation is generally a simple matter of following the navigation points spread out through the game. The ship's controls can be switched from the FPS mode to Simulation Mode via a predefined shortcut, where the latter steering scheme switches the horizontal scrolling of the mouse from turning the cockpit horizontally to rotating the hull around its axis. Reaching the surface is not possible due to the depth-range limitation, which binds the player to the underwater world yet gives certain disadvantages during the combat.

In response to criticisms of poor interaction with other characters in AquaNox, a new dialogue system was added in the sequel. Between missions the player is able to initiate conversations while on board of the freighter as well as in the oceanic cities. The initiation of the conversations is mandatory; however due to the absence of interaction during the dialogues, the outcome of the game is not open-ended. The actions and replies of the protagonist often appear irrational and unnatural.

Clicking on the person opens up another window that shows the conversation between your character, the absurdly naive William Drake, and the person you've clicked on. These conversations are designed to give the game a plot, but more often than not, the sequences are filled with near-meaningless babble.

Gerstmann, Jeff (2003-09-29). "Aquanox 2 Revelation Review". Gamespot.com. 

Like William, the other characters in the game do not tend to appear natural by neither showing conscious thought, neither having distinct goals nor developing at all over the period of the adventure. While perhaps being the intention of the playwright, the secondary personages do not show any depth or authenticity, resulting in a group of stereotypic knights, pirates, outcasts and nymphomaniacs.

As in Aquanox the story is once more handled via boring, unsubstantial and sometimes even featherbrained dialogues, which fortunately can be stopped by using the Escape-button. This one flaw renders the story of the game completely useless, as only few fragments of it actually find their way to the player.

Deim, I. "Aquanox 2 Revelation Review". Gamershell.com. 

AquaNox: Angel's Tears[edit]

AquaNox: Angel's Tears is the PlayStation 2 remake of Aquanox 2: Revelation. The title did not pass Sony's software quality assurance test and as Massive Development had already been closed by JoWood Productions, the release was cancelled.

Aquanox: Deep Descent[edit]

At Gamescom 2014 Nordic Games presented a tech demo of a new iteration from the Aquanox series. The Nordic Games officials confirmed they are working on a new iteration of the game, since they and their fans found the concept interesting. The demo was created using Unreal Engine 3 and showed a bit of the environment and one ship model prototype along with a hangar interface.[2]

References[edit]

External links[edit]