SINGLE PLAYER PREVIEW
If you haven't heard, Tesseraction is building Enigma: Rising Tide as a massive multiplayer naval game (see our beta preview for more details) that is poised to eclipse all efforts before it. But first they have released a single player offline version. And it rocks!
Enigma's single player game takes place in Tesseraction's alternate history. Included are ten single missions (just ten, yes) and two ten-mission campaigns in which you play as a destroyer or a submarine. The campaign structure is scripted and to progress you must complete each mission and live to tell.
There are numerous types of ships and planes. Submarines carry 50 torpedoes and can reload in a couple of minutes. Aside from that, most ships and planes behave as you would expect. The AI is straightforward and sufficient. The enemy comes at you, will attack, changes course to dodge torpedoes, and pushes toward its objective, which is usually to get you or your allies. There are no difficulty levels so whether you are a seasoned pro or a pigeon-toed newbie, the bar is set at the same height. I had to repeat most missions once or twice to achieve victory. In one instance where I was rudely interrupted by a gaggle of escorts, I went deep and waited them out. When I returned to periscope depth, I found my opponents all clustered in a motionless pile. It was easy to pick them off. I guess the AI script ran its paces and ran out of things to do.
The interface is the same as when we tested the beta. I rarely used the mouse because Enigma ships with the best voice control I've ever experienced in a subsim (in the same league as Sub Command). And the dev team is working to make it even better. With no special preparation I was able to change speed, headings, depth, fire weapons, and more just by muttering into a mike. You feel like a real captain.
Enigma graphics are very good. Great wave action and ships. Tesseraction fixed the external view so now you can only see the surroundings on one side of the water--the side you are on. If you are a surface ship or a sub running up top, you can see everything on the surface and in the air, in your area. You cannot scan down below the surface and look for subs (cheat!). Likewise with submerged submarines--you can see under the ocean but not above. You do get a glimpse of a hull when they are really close. You cannot use your keyboard to make course changes from the external view but you can voice command orders. We'll see if that changes.
It appears the radar/sonar screen system has been improved as well. Now you will get updates but not as precisely as was seen in the beta version of Enigma. It helps greatly to get a visual fix to improve the plot positions on the screen. This is great, it forces the submarine player to emulate real submarine tactics--coming to periscope depth and risking a look to get a better fix on targets and escorts. You cannot shoot from sonar bearings. Enigma has a good balance between the sub and escort that should boost interest once the online version is released.
Enigma is billed as a "different world" and in the case of tactics that is unmistakably true. You will need to relearn your approaches and roles in Enigma. Whereas the escort drivers have roughly the same roles as their real-life counterparts--escorting merchants, hunting subs, shooting down planes--the sub player may as well throw out his classical submarine training. It some missions you will be tasked with guarding a convoy against marauding destroyers and corvettes. Yes, in an Enigma sub, you go looking for trouble. Since you have 50 torpedoes and the fastest reload crew in the world, you can handle it. Just don't be surprised when HQ issues orders to take out four or more warships; or when it classifies merchants as second tier targets. Other missions include refueling and typical convoy attacks.
In addition to the missions and campaigns you also get a free 30-day subscription when the game goes live. That's when the real action promises to heat up. Enigma is already stirring up a lot of attention in forums and newsgroups across the web. The subsim community has never seen a dev team as open and approachable as Tesseraction--the producer and team answer queries daily on the Enigma forum. That's the level of support this new title promises. The single player version should whet your appetite for more. Enigma is showing strong signs of living up to that promise and potential.
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