It’s April 18, 2067, and there is a war being fought in the ocean over Bacteria 241 (also known as B241), a strange new energy source. The Eco Systems organization has developed a way to turn this bacterium into energy for the world to use. Their attempt to be the sole providers of this energy have failed, and now they must protect their drop zones and make sure that the cargo they need gets back to base safely. Proteus Tech has stolen Eco Systems’ technology and now want the bacteria for themselves so they, too, can make the energy. They have set up turrets around the drop locations to try and stop the transporter ships from getting the cargo.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
It is up to the player to decide whether to save the world for Eco Systems, or destroy and dominate as commander of Proteus Tech. A mission briefing will outline the task or tasks that must be successfully completed in order to advance to the next mission. There are three vehicles to choose from. The Scout Reconnaissance vehicle (Scout RV) is the fastest and quickest maneuvering vehicle. The drawback to the Scout RV is that it has light armor, so it is not recommended for extended periods of combat. The Fast Attack Vehicle (Fast AV) is the most used vehicle for the missions. It has stronger armor than the Scout RV and can get around quicker than the Heavy AV. The Heavy Attack Vehicle (Heavy AV) is loaded with excellent armor, but is slower and less maneuverable than the other two vehicles. The firepower on the Heavy AV is what makes up for the drawbacks. The main docking station is where all the available weapons are located. You can select and load the secondary weaponry such as torpedoes, flares and missiles in preparation for the mission. There is a limit to the number of weapons the vehicle can hold, and the more weapons you have the heavier the vehicle will be.
Once undocked, you’ll notice your cockpit’s status windows are arranged differently depending on which vehicle you’re piloting. The most important display on your console is a relief map. It will show what is in close proximity; such as other vehicles, base structures, sonar posts and remote docking stations as well as the terrain around you. The status window also has a compass, vertical depth indicator, center crosshair, warning messages and much, much more. Unfortunately it does not direct you in the way of a remote docking station, so you are on your own in finding one when you are in need of weapons, energy, or armor. Even with all the displays on-screen this does not interfere with the actual gameplay and is useful.
The concept of Fatal Abyss is different from most combat games because it takes place underwater. This is a hard game to play; because the vehicle is underwater, it is harder to maneuver than a car or airplane. When I first started playing the game I had problems controlling the speed. When I wanted to travel at a slow, steady pace and would move the throttle down, I would go in reverse. When getting out of reverse by increasing my speed, I would then end up going too fast. This is frustrating, but the more I played the more I got used to it. There is also a grid that you cannot go above or below. This grid is to help keep the vehicle within shallow limits. Playing for Eco Systems is difficult, to say the least. From the first mission, multiple drone vehicles and turrets attack you. On top of that, your primary weapons, the Laser Shot and Plasma Shot, are hard to use because you must fire accurately and it takes many, many shots in order to destroy anything. Using the secondary weaponry is a quick way of destroying the enemy, and without using these weapons I could not finish the mission successfully. Playing for Proteus Tech is much easier because Proteus Tech has turrets set up around the drop zones to assist in battles. This makes the missions easier and gives the impression that you can complete this game.
I had problems with the game crashing on me at random times, so I e-mailed SegaSoft’s tech support for help and never received an answer.
The graphics are good, from the docking bay to shooting a missile to destroying a drone and seeing pieces of the vehicle fall to the bottom of the ocean. I thought the effects with the bubbles were quite nice. Since most games these days are trying to be as realistic as possible, I was expecting something in the ocean such as fish, but unfortunately there is nothing worth mentioning to look at.
The menus have different sounds and music. During gameplay, though, the audio is limited to the firing of a weapon and when the computer in the vehicle tells you "lock on detected." There is no background music, no underwater sounds, and you cannot hear the engines of other vehicles when they are near you.
IBM PC or compatible with Pentium 166 MHz processor, Window 95/98, 32 MB RAM, 50 MB hard drive, 4X CD-ROM drive, 2MB DirectX compatible PCI video card. Supports: DirectSound compatible sound card, 3Dfx accelerator card
Reviewed on: Intel Pentium II 300, 64M SDRAM with a 32x CD-ROM, RivaTNT with 16M RAM, Sidewinder Pro 3D Joystick. Because this game crashed on my system numerous times, I also played it on my husband’s Pentium 233MMX, Orchid Righteous 3D (with 3Dfx Voodoo Chipset), 64 MB RAM and it worked fine.
The 32-page manual (or sorry excuse for a manual) explains the status windows, vehicle types, computer-controlled vehicles, structures and weapons, and guides you through the main menus. There is a misprint in this manual with the secondary fire button on the keyboard. The manual will help with the controls on the keyboard; other than that, everything else can be figured out during gameplay, including when and how to save a game after the completion of a mission.
This game is entertaining, but very difficult from the start. At any given time, you will have three to four ships attacking you with no one to back you up. At times, depending on the number of ships attacking you, it seems almost unplayable. I liked the storyline. The vehicles’ maneuvering capabilities felt realistic. Overall, given the difficulty, bad documentation, lack of detail in the game, and lack of technical support I gave this game a score of 75.