Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Over the past week I have saved people from a burning oil rig, photographed ships dumping oil into the ocean for Greenpeace, and sailed a cruise line to Bora Bora. These are just a few of the scenarios that I experienced in Ship Simulator Extremes.Subtitled “Extremes”, Ship Simulator opts for the route to spice up the simulation genre. Each scenario presented to the player is infused with thrillsto help avoid bland sailing and give a sense of purpose behind each mission.Make no mistake however, this is a simulator through and through. Players take full control of engine speed, navigation and must make certain that their ship makes it to port for each mission. The controls are exactly what you would expect from a ship simulation game. The boats are slow and tend to perform huge arcs when turning, and require a lot of anticipation when navigating around other boats since stopping isn’t instant, but gradual.Of the main campaign missions, a few stood out: sailing for Greenpeace, making sure that the ocean is safe from polluters and exposing them through photography; controlling a cruise line to Bora Bora and experiencing situations dealing with fires and engine failures; and lastly, cruising on a patrol boat to deal with oil rigs on fire, towing broken down boats to safety and also performing coast guard duties.
The most difficult aspect of Ship Simulator Extremes wasn’t steering the ship and traveling from point A to point B, but rather getting it to port. The ports are usually small, tight areas, and since the ships move slow and turn in an arc, it is extremely challenging putting it on course to the destination. Many times I failed the mission because I had trouble navigating, crashed into a pier, which led my ship to start sinking. Talk about a major fail.
Free roam and multiplayer modes are presented for players wanting to relax in the open seas, granting them a choice of a boat and environment to sail in alone, or with friends.
Per standards, it’s essential to play through the tutorial, which also happens to be the one thing missing from Extremes. Though each mission walks you through what you should do, but it doesn’t exactly say how to perform the actions; so unless you have basic knowledge of ship controls, it will take patience to grasp an understanding of how to play.
For a game that prides itself on realism, the graphics are a complete letdown. When playing from the overhead ship view, it looks decent at best. However, once you zoom into the interior of the ship however — which you can walk around in — things start to look bad. Everything is made up of hard edge polygons, and simple colors, rather than textures. Any sense of realism is lost in the blandness of the graphics. What’s worse is that you can even walk through objects, giving you an inside look at how badly they were modeled. The outside city environments are just as bad. Buildings and trees have no texture to them and resemble cardboard cutouts. How’s that for realism?
Graphics aside, the simulation aspect of Extremes is definitely there. The game gives players a fine look at different aspects and situations that can arise while sailing different ships. The “extreme” scenarios help make the game more exciting, rather than just sailing from point A to point B, though newcomers will have some trouble knowing how to operate everything, since a tutorial is nowhere to be found.

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