Windows - 1997
Description of Tigershark
Tigershark. It's a fish, isn't it?
A piece of trivia: the Tiger shark is one of the most dangerous types of sharks in the world. The most dangerous, claim some. It grows up to 6 meters long, may weigh over half a ton, and eats practically anything. Being as fearsome as it is, this shark has inspired quite a number of people to name stuff after it. A casual WWW search brings up fighter planes, watercraft, an IBM file system, some college's basketball/hockey teams, a line of survival knives, and others. Now, we have a computer game.
So first of all, a confession. I'm not really a fan of first person, arcade shooters. Yes, I like Doom like the next guy. True, I have played Quake and enjoyed a networked session or two of Duke Nukem. But my main interests lie in the realm of sports and adventures.
Given the above, you might well ask what I am doing reviewing a game such as Tigershark. After all, this is as much a first person shooter as they come. The reason is that I had the hardware to run it, and so was given the task. And, believe me, it requires some heavy equipment. Oh yes. Don't think of running it on anything less than an MMX (and, therefore, 166 MHz or higher CPU) powered PC. And speaking of hardware, bear in mind that the screenshots in this review are misleading- the game is much more beautiful than that, but almost impossible to grab screenshots from. Sorry.
Descent in water?
Yes, that's what it is, really. A 3D, first person shooter, that takes place under water. The premise is yet another sci-fi mishmash- sometime in the 60's (that is, 2060) Japan disappears from the face of the earth due to violent tectonic activity. The Russians take over the equipment left behind, which was supposed to help the Japanese avoid this sorry accident, and become a threat to the world. Again. Or something. The good guys- Ill give you one guess as to who they are- release the Tigershark on the troubled seas. Quoting from the docs: "A fully-loaded subfoil prototype. Forged for war. Built for speed. Dead set on destruction. Underwater. And over" Blah blah. Oh well. Nothing original here. In effect, it's a Descent -type, really quick, submarine.
Tigershark should be run on MMX equipped PC's. It is also adapted for use with 3dfx cards, and truly shines when used with one. It installs easily, simply because it doesn't install- the game runs directly from the CD, and requires no hard drive space. You do need to go through an installation procedure, mainly to get directX up and running and to configure the game for your system.
It's a bird! It's a fish! It's a... subfoil. Hmm.
Fire up the CD and you will find yourself in the main menu, masked in the form of a control chamber. You may completely reconfigure the controls, even mixing between different input devices. For some reason this is only available via the "launcher" application, but, fortunately, switching between that and the game is easy. In here you may choose to load a saved mission, train, or start a new game. This is also where you enter the various cheat codes, which are available from the GT Interactive's website (check the FAQ).
The game itself is pretty simple- you ride your Tigershark through different missions (8 in all) in an effort to stop those damn Russians. Actually, I'm quite curious as to how they came back to be "the Red menace", as described in the promo- I thought today it's Cuban drug dealers or unpolitically correct (err, behaviorally challenged) people. But I digress. The subfoil generally travels underwater, or hovers close above it when needed. The environment it truly 3D- and I must confess that the effect of having two different mediums to travel through has its moments. Seeing the bottom of fast cruisers and bombarding them from beneath can be quite a satisfying experience. The same goes for jumping in and out of water to destroy surface targets- or underwater ones. The game also has what feels like a differing physical model over- and underwater, which supplies added interest.
But the novelty wears off pretty quick, and the big question is whether Tigershark has enough substance to hold you afterwards. Well, lets see. It has few missions- eight- and all of them are based over destruction of some structure or other. On the other hand, they all seem different, as each has some new element thrown in- from shoot & destroy, through escort & destroy, destroy & run away before volcano erupts (which conveniently doesn't until you finish the destruction part), destroy while your weapons are effected by the targets, destroy over- and underwater, destroy & disable... you get the drift. It's Wing Commander material, to be honest, but with less variety. The missions are difficult, especially if you play in the highest difficulty setting. The AI in this game is quite alright- multiple enemies (and you won't find yourself ever fighting a single enemy) don't just gang up together waiting to be blown to pieces, but rather try to get behind and around (and above, and below) you in an effort to destroy you quickly and efficiently.
There are quite a number of different enemies to encounter- small ships, big ships, cruisers, fixed and moving guns, mines, and others. There is also eye candy in the form of underwater buildings, but try as I might, I couldn't blow any of them. The same goes for the fish and the birds. Annoying. I say- "if you cant blow em up, don't put em there". Things explode nicely, sending flying pieces everywhere, which then explode on their own. These pieces can be quite big, and since you may be hurt by them, it adds to the general confusion.
Your pod has impressive surface collision sensors, making it impossible to crash into the ground. Surprisingly, these cease to work when you try to crash into a building. Even more surprisingly, the building never suffers any damage from such collisions. In any case, you constantly lose speed when maneuvering into things, which is impossible to avoid. The Tigershark is also loaded with different weapons- several sorts of torpedoes, flak, and main guns, and a target lock system which, for some reason, stops functioning in really close range- like when parts of the target are out of the screen.
Looks are important, after all
Tigershark looks nice. You may notice quite a lot of detail on the array of various moving things, and it doesn't deteriorate at close quarters. I once had the screen black out for a second, but generally, the graphics are pleasing and consistent.
The main problem, though, is what happens when there's an explosion, and there are rather a lot of those. If you get caught close to one, the game will suddenly slow to a crawl, and the frame rate will become horrendously low. This is sad, as I cant see any reason why a game designed for MMX, and run on powerful hardware such as mine, should suffer any such effects. This takes away a large part of the fun and becomes a real issue. Maybe a few MB of hard drive space might have helped cure this phenomenon, but as it is, Tigershark falls flat on its face in this area. Run it using any 3dfx card, though, and the problem will go away, leaving an impressive impression indeed.
The sound and music are fine. Nothing to be too enthusiastic about, but they are good, they fit in, and they help the fun. Anything else? oh, you may choose from three different views, the two "normal" cockpit and "right-behind" ones, and one curious "I set the camera here and lets go on". That latter one allows you to have a beautiful view of the scenery, and also lose your craft quickly by riding it off the screen.
As I said, Tigershark is not my type of game. I'm not sure if I can heartily recommend it. I believe it's way too short, for one thing. It has some innovation, especially with the whole overwater/underwater aspect, which has some appeal. On the other hand, it requires massive hardware, and even then, it almost crawls to a complete stop quite frequently. I suppose that if you liked Descent, and want a similar, but different, experience, then this game is for you.
As an afterthought, I did enjoy it for some time, so anyone with more inclination towards the subject matter should enjoy it even more. 'nuf said.
Review By GamesDomain
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