LGR – Deadly Tide – PC Game Review

September 6, 2019

[typing] If you bought a PC with Windows 95 back in the day, chances are it came with a version
of the Windows 95 companion CD. This not only contained operating system archives, but a whole slew of things that showed you
just how awesome Windows 95 could be. There were demos, music videos
and even a few trailers. One of these trailers was for a game called Deadly Tide, and I still remember the first time I watched it, thinking, “Holy crap, this has to be the
best game in the history of the universe!” It’s got aliens and shooting and audible explosions in outer space! Wow, look at those graphics, too! There’s no way games will ever look any better than this. So after this, I ended up getting Hellbender, and pretty much never looked back
because it was frickin’ sweet. Until some years later when I got Deadly Tide, published in 1996 by Microsoft and developed by Rainbow Studios. Yes, the same Rainbow Studios that
also released The Hive the year before. Actually, the two games are
practically identical on a base level. But we’re here for Deadly Tide, so maybe we’ll look at The Hive another day. “The height of battle. The depth of fear.” The pinnacle of ambiguity. The lameness of marketing blurbs. “Aliens have landed and Earth is drowning.” “Your mission is hazardous, your chances are slim.” “Every fathom brings new danger–” “and another beat of the clock.” “Tick… Tick… Tick…” “You’re finished.” Wow. I’ve already lost the game, and I
haven’t even gotten past the back of the box. The screenshots on display here
definitely match up with the trailer, too, showing graphics that are way beyond
what you’d expect for a 1996 game. Of course, this is all a clever illusion, as the entire game is essentially a
pre-rendered full-motion video cutscene. Inside the box, you get the usual starchy paperwork crap that Microsoft products come with, the game itself consisting of four CD-ROMs, and a manual, which covers the
incredibly complex control scheme. That is, you aim and shoot and… uh… that’s it. Pretty much everything in the game
is streamed directly from the CDs, so the game actually only takes up about 17 MB, even though it uses four discs. Start up Deadly Tide and you’re
greeted with the deadly menu… tide. Uh, the only part of the game
that ISN’T streaming video. You can only change the options you’d expect, like video quality, difficulty, volume, how often you want it to insult your mother, whether or not you prefer handcuffs to rope, etc. You also get the option to use a joystick, but really, that’s making the
game a bit tougher than need be, and you’ll see why soon. Begin the game and enjoy the
intriguingly retro-sounding Microsoft logo. [synth keyboard music] Somewhere out there,
Phil Collins is nodding in agreement. Then a strangely precise date appears, just to make sure you don’t
confuse what is about to happen with, say, the 9th or 11th of the month. Suddenly, a large alien ship materializes, with the intention of screwing
up humanity’s January 10th, and presumably holding a grudge against Byron Haskin for being rejected as a 1950s “War of the Worlds” prop. We’re then shown the Lack of
Imaginative Naming Initiatives moon base, and some poor dudes who may
as well be wearing red shirts start preparing for takeoff. An nearly epic battle commences, with the Rebel Alliance fighters slowly dwindling against the awesome
firepower of the Galactic Empire! Or… something like that. Just when all seems lost,
Mr. Randy Quaid wannabe here gets the bright idea to fly right up the butthole of one of the alien motherships, complete with cheesy one-liner. PILOT:
Welcome to Earth. [explosion] LGR:
But of course, one ship gets away
and heads straight for Earth, proceeding to… …hang around under the ocean for five years. REPORTER:
This is a World Com news brief. Today marks the fifth anniversary of the arrival
of an alien aquatic species on our planet. It is still a mystery why these
creatures have come to Earth. They live at the bottom of the ocean. LGR:
So apparently these aliens aren’t really doing anything, other than raising the sea level and refusing to pay their cable bill or something. Obviously, this annoys both
beachfront real estate agents and cable operators, so they start looking to the Earth Ocean Alliance for answers! Turns out YOU are one of the pilots for the EOA’s
new prototype Hydra underwater attack craft. And your base is conveniently under attack right now. You’re then dropped into one of the
few Hydra ships, ready for action. Once all of this non-interaction ends, more non-interaction begins. Kinda. You see, Deadly Tide is a rail shooter. Your path is largely predetermined, and it’s simply your job to shoot every strange
alien thing that comes along on-screen. You literally just aim, shoot and
maybe toss a bomb out once in a while. There is no swapping weapons on
the fly or reloading, you just shoot. preferably in bursts, and try to make sure your laser doesn’t overheat and your shields stay up and have time to regenerate. You can’t dodge enemy fire, so basically it’s all just a reflex test and the quicker you shoot dudes,
the longer it’ll take for you to die. This method of gameplay is how they
managed to make the game look so good, as the backgrounds are just videos
of pre-rendered 3D environments and all of the action takes place with animated sprites flying around on top of it. Same thing that was done with The Hive, and other FMV rail shooter games like Rebel Assault. But there is one thing that really
sets Deadly Tide apart from the most, and that is the Rotate Mode. For most of the game,
you’re moving forward at all times, shooting at stuff as it flies past you. But every so often, you’ll stop
moving and enter Rotate Mode, where you can actually look around in 360 degrees and shoot at enemies coming from all angles. It’s a pretty awesome effect for a rail shooter like this, accomplished by using seamless
panoramic video backdrops that can be panned around by using your cursor. Freaking blew my mind as a kid, but nowadays, these sections
annoy me more than they entertain. Nine times out of ten, if I die in a game,
it’s during one of these sections. and that’s because every time you try to aim, the whole screen moves along with you. And since you have fast-moving
angry enemies coming at all sides, it’s incredibly easy to get killed by one off-screen. The sound effects aren’t always a cue, either. Sometimes you’ll hear one that
sounds like it’s directly in front of you, but it’s directly behind you. This just doesn’t happen in the regular Flight Mode, since enemies never shoot from an area you can’t see. And the transition between
Flight and Rotate Mode is seamless, so you’re sometimes caught off guard and getting blasted up the butt without warning. When you can get a beat on the enemies, it’s pretty fun to go around
shooting the crap out of everything, and it’s more forgiving than
their previous game, The Hive. And just when then monotony of
holding down the mouse button sets in, the gameplay is changed up a bit. either with different scenery, or commanding an alien ship, or even getting out of the ship and
walking around the ocean floor. The gameplay itself doesn’t actually
change with any of these modes. Everything works almost exactly the same. But it’s effective in mixing up the
atmosphere from time to time. Plus, the game itself is only
about an hour and a half long, so you don’t get too much of a chance
to get thoroughly annoyed at everything. Although, honestly, the ending will
probably annoy the balls off you. At least it did me. Seriously, I am now in the market
for new balls because of this ending. I normally wouldn’t spoil things like this, but I am serious when I say this is probably
the most anticlimactic ending I have ever seen. As the cliched story comes to a close, you blow up the alien mothership,
you’re surrounded by some drones, one of the bigger ships gets away, and then some guy on the news says you might be dead. But they hope you’re not. Fade to black. That’s it. You’re sent back to the main menu, No “congrats,” no “game over,” no “to be continued,” no score, not even any freakin’ credits! Maybe Rainbow Studios planned
another game in the near future, but nothing ever came of it. In fact, after this they went on to
make the Motocross Madness games, followed by ATV Offroad Fury, MX vs. ATV Unleashed, and so on, leaving Deadly Tide and their rail
shooter genre behind altogether. And this is why you don’t do stupid
cliffhanger endings on games if you don’t know for sure that
another game is on the way, because it makes the entire preceding
experience seem like it was for nothing. It pisses off your fans, especially when there’s not even a
simple “game over” screen to end things. I mean, wow. It’s like being cut off mid-sentence. Ah, well, the experience leading up to
the awful ending is pretty cool, though. I mean, it’s mindless arcade shooting, but at least it’s pretty arcade shooting, even though the full-motion video compression
is really showing its age nowadays. It could definitely use an HD remake of some kind. It’s more playable than The Hive, the story is predictably simple, but it works, and things go boom! A lot. If you like that kinda thing, it’s got it. I’m not sure I would say one
should go out of their way to play it, but you could definitely do worse
with FMV rail shooters of the time. It even works just fine on every version of Windows I’ve tried up through Windows 7 64-bit. So if you do come across it for a few bucks,
I’d definitely grab it and try it out. As long as you don’t mind endings that have no respect for you
or your feelings whatsoever.

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