Aces Of The Deep

a game by Dynamix
Platform: PC
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See also: Submarine Sea Battles
Aces Of The Deep
Aces Of The Deep
Aces Of The Deep
Aces Of The Deep

Rather Than Write this review in a clump and then tag on an arbitrary score once I've finished (i.e. the usual way). Im going to award points (both plus and minus) after every paragraph, and then, when I've finished, all I have to do is add them up. Simple for me and illustrative for you. So lets go.

Thought one...

I'll tell you the first thing that made me shout hooray after firing up Aces of the Deep, and it was this: the sight of the Northern Atlantic Ocean in the main overview map. Why so happy about that? Well, this being yet another American game, I was rather stupidly assuming it would be the same as in Silent Service i.e. American subs against the Japs in the Pacific. But, like Ive suggested, its not. It is in fact German submarines against the Brits, the Yanks and the allied merchants in the Atlantic. And what this adds up to, rather obviously, is that you already know your way about, geographically speaking (unless youre Australian). Want to get from Holland to Gibraltar? (You go down, easy.) From France to Nova Scotia? (You go left for a few thousand miles, maybe skirting up through the Irish Sea en-route to see whats about.) And so on. In other words, setting potentially fruitful waypoints is a piece of piss and youre never going to find yourself saying Where the fi" are the Woop-Woop Islands? and studying the map for 26 hours. Thank Christ for that.

Score: 10 points.

Thought two...

The Aces of the Deep manual is smart, and makes a really great read for when youre sat on the bog. For instance, did you know that there was this U-boat captain called Adalbert Schnee who, during the very last few days of the war, managed to pop his periscope up, undetected, slap bang in the middle of an anti-submarine convoy? (Talk about The Bitter Bit", eh?) And in his sights, and ripe for a sinking, was the infamous (to a German) HMS Norfolk. Schnee was just about to let rip with tubes one and two when a radio message came through from his superiors back in sausage land: the war was over and all U-boats were to cease hostilities immediately. What would you have done? Personally I would have given HMS Norfolk a chinning anyway -and then Id have pottered off to Rio De Janeiro for a life of sun, chicks and booze, renting out the sub as a fishing boat or something. Schnee, however, simply cursed (apparently), lowered the periscope, and slipped away, back to Europe. But anyway, back to the point... a lengthy read of the Aces of the Deep manual is guaranteed to turn even the silliest of people into an unadulterated submarine bore. Erm, for instance, did you know about the neutral buoyancy inherent in (...Snip. Ed.).

Score: 10 points.

Thought three...

Also included in the Aces of the Deep package is a flyer for an organisation called Shark-hunters. They're trying to flog something called KriegsTageBuch magazine. Its hard to tell whether Sharkhunters is a neo-nazi affair or just a celebration of submarine warfare in general, but Ill tell you something for nothing... its bizarre. Here's the Sharkhunters slogan: "Yesterdays enemies are today's friends. And here are a couple of quotes from current Sharkhunters members, talking about KriegsTageBuch ; magazine...

I find it interesting. Let's get submarining back to what it truly is: teamwork, persistence, and determination. Keep up the good work. God bless you. - Eugene Fluckey, Skipper. liSS Barb.

Many thanks for the KriegsTageBuch. Be sure that my best wishes for your health and happiness are on their way across the Atlantic with the velocity of light. - Otto Kretschmer, C.O. of U-99.

I See? I told you it was bizarre. Im going to send my Shark-hunter coupon to the local BNP offices - I : expect theyll be interested for one unspeakable reason or another.

Score: 0 points.

Thought four...

The game system is exactly the same as the game system in all those other Dynamix sims we know and love i.e. Red Baron, Aces Over the Pacific, and Aces Over Europe. In other words, you can choose from any one of a zillion real-life historic one-off missions or you can opt for an on-going war career (in which hardware improves, as the war progresses). The fully tinkerable realism panel is in evidence too, meaning you can be as authentic as you like regarding dud torpedoes, your field of vision, your vulnerability, your enemys detection capabilities, and so on. When in an on-going war career, as usual, the rewards come in the form of promotions and medals. You know the drill by now though, so I won't go on at length but Ill add that this standard old approach works well enough, so why fiddle with it? The only thing missing is more interaction in-between the missions in the Career Mode. It would be nice if Dynamix had included talky bits, where you could interact verbally with other officers, a la Pacific Strike. All you get, however, is a single characterless screen called Nightclub where you click on the Next icon and are then told certain consecutive facts: HMS Invincible has been sunk. Next. The Italians have now joined the war. Next. The British have a new weapon. Next. And on and on. Snooze City.

Score: 2 points.

Thought five...

I have finally seen guru shading and textured bitmaps doing a good job rather than merely being clever techniques for slowing a games frame rate. Yup, just look at the Aces of the Deep screenshots. The ocean swells - you rock up, down and every which way. The weather changes. The stars come out, and are accurately mapped, so seriously-boring folk can say Look, theres v Ursa Minor, we must be travelling south south east. Experience storms, fogs, everything. And all the time youre bobbing about like some kind of treacle-covered retard on a slow-motion trampoline. In fact - and its a point well worth mentioning -the manual claims that the in-game option called Stationary Horizon (accessed from the realism menu) was put there because some Dynamix game testers actually became seasick while playing. Whether this is the truth or not Icant say, because I don't suffer from motion sickness myself, but nevertheless, you have been warned.

Score: 40 points.

Thought six...

While using the binoculars, the periscope or while simply standing on the bridge bobbing up and down (and becoming seasick, if the claims true), you have full 360-degree rotational powers. So what? you say, You have full rotational powers in all submarine games." And yes, so you do, but in Aces of the Deep it somehow feels just that tad more realistic. Especially when you're standing on the bridge, because as you turn you see the different parts of the sub - so you dont have to check the compass bearing to tell that you're looking at the stern, because you can see the stern. That sort of thing.

And as for the times when youre not at the periscope, the bins or on the bridge, the graphics are equally excellent. The screens are static, sure (apart from the top-down map), but the dials move, there are hot areas for the mouse pointer and so forth.

I think what Im trying to say here is that, as well as doing the aesthetics job pleasingly enough, everything, control-wise, is keenly intuitive. So whether you use the mouse pointer or the relevant quick keys, its all much the same and is dead easy to get to grips with.

Score: 30 points.

Thought seven...

When you use the Torpedo View (i.e. the external camera), the hitherto superb graphics fall apart somewhat... tiny, distant ships appear nearer" than larger, closer" ships do. Its like youve suddenly taken a strange drug of some description (lets for arguments sake say Jimson Weed: available from Kew Gardens, or, failing that, Peru). Also, when you use the external camera on a targeted object - say an aircraft - and youre close enough to be visible yourself, er, you are... even though you might be 100 metres below the surface. Its best to steer clear of the no key altogether as it happens, purely because its capable of shattering the overall illusion. Oh, and while Im at it, on the overhead moving-map screen youll very occasionally see a ship travelling on land. I tell you, its that bloody Jimson Weed again!

Score: minus 30 points.

Thought eight...

Tension! Thats what submarine games are all about, just like those numerous black and white Sunday afternoon wwii films starring Dickie Attenborough, John Mills and Gordon Jackson. Will your torpedoes strike home? You cant hang about to see, because just like Dickie. John and Gordon Jackson, youve got an urgent appointment with the ocean floor... on silent running. But then theres a distant "boom. You punch the air in a mixture of joy and relief. Silence. Silence. Boom! Yes! Silence. Silence. Silence. Silence. Silence. Damn, must have missed. Then ping. Oh no! Then ping again. And again. And again, only this time its somehow louder, and 15 times more scary. And, like any submarine sim worth its salt, Aces of the Deep hasnt been at all stingy with the sound effects. Theres the digitised crew speech in either German or English (with cheesy kraut accents and a brace of bad acting), and the whole gamut of undersea noises: splashy ones, explodey ones, hull creaks and chopping propeller sounds (at various volumes) from the ship or ships above you. Oh, and something Ive forgotten to mention, but must, is that the artificial intelligence of the enemy is absolutely first rate. Youll be absolutely cacking yourself, take my word.

Score: 30 points.

Final thought...

I've been saying for ages (and you may disagree, but bear with me) that there arent any definitive submarine games. The Silent Service duo had the atmosphere, for sure, but they also had shitty bitmap graphics when you looked through the periscope. Bummersville. 688 Attack Sub and its sequel, Seawolf, suffered similarly -although the latter earned itself a very temporary PC definitive tag by -default, due, basically, to its sound effects. But now, at last, we do have a definitive sub sim. And I doff my cap to it. But even so, I feel its taken more than its time in coming, and should, by rights, have appeared at least a year ago.

So what else can I say? Well, if I was a games designer, heres how Id beat Aces of the Deep to become the next definitive sub game: (1) More "reward screens between sorties, with a bit of pseudo human interaction - as mentioned earlier; (2) Tighten up the depth queuing for even more visual realism; and (3) Doom-style, first-person stuff for inside the sub: youre at the bottom of the ocean, listening to the sonar blips of an incoming destroyer. Itd be nice to be able to at least pace up and down, wouldnt it?

Score: Minus 2 points.

Download Aces Of The Deep


System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

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