Simulation is always something I’ve been very much for. I love the feeling of actually putting myself in the same situations with the same complications faced by those who do said chosen activity in reality. I believe in most cases that the more realistic the better the experience. However entertainment is still the main goal and that brings me neatly onto my issue with Ship Simulator Extreme.
Ship Simulator Extreme is a game void of all entertainment, it has the personality of a cupboard and is about as extreme as a damp towel. Unfortunately that’s about all you need to know, but I have a word target to meet and I’m sure you want me to back up my bold statement so let’s look a little deeper and I’ll justify my beginning statement along the way.
So we will start off with the game modes available. We have a campaign mode consisting of different types of sailing careers from cruise liner captains to a mode devised by the Dutch Pilot Organisation as the ultimate extreme test. We have a free roaming mode, the ‘pick a boat and go’ affair. A single mission mode and last but not least a Multiplayer mode (I found no one that wanted to test that with me strangely). I think we will kick off with free roaming and come back to the campaign later.
So free roaming? That’s the one where I can pick a place a boat and sail, right? Wrong. First we have to navigate four option menus to set the scene. You go through in depth date, time, weather and even water temperature options before we are finally given the chance to launch into the game. Now in all honesty it feels about right for a simulator to have that depth so that’s fine, but you would only expect the same from the gameplay and yet somehow sadly the gameplay simply doesn’t feel anything like simulation.
Having tried a few of the boats from massive cruise liners through to the small high powered dinghies I found the controls to operate these boats is exactly the same, every boat I tried was I was able to pilot easily just by whacking the acceleration to the max and using the steering with no further input required now that certainly doesn’t feel like a simulator let alone an extreme one. It is also worth mentioning that this is still the same tactic for weather you are in calm tides or stormy waters. Full speed ahead is really the only command you’ll ever need.
So who can run Ship Simulator Extreme? Well I believe just about anybody can as this game doesn’t have and particularly wow moments when it comes to graphics. Some of the scenes can look nice but overall when it comes to simulation there is really more of a focus on the realism rather than the shiny textures. However there were many moments where the water seemed to have graphical glitches that I felt the game could have certainly done without considering it’s all about being in the open waters.
Right, now that campaign, I briefly mentioned earlier that there are a few options but for this review I took a look at being a tourist cruise pilot to see just how it plays out. Being a cruise captain is hard work right? Wrong again! Piloting these huge liners is as simple as pie and that gives you a lot of free time as they have the slowest speeds recorded on earth. So what is a sea captain to do on a cruise liner when there is no need piloting for a while? Well take a walk around the ship sounds like a good start, but unfortunately is ultimately rather pointless as there is nothing to do on said ship. Now I’m not saying a ship simulator needs a working casino or something but there are no passengers, no interactive objects no nothing just you and a bloody big empty boat. At times it honestly feels like a post-apocalyptic ship simulator. In those long periods of time where input wasn’t needed I found myself checking emails, reading a book, and generally doing things outside of the game as there is nothing there to hold the players attention. Considering we are talking about the campaign that is possibly one of the game’s biggest falls, there is just no reason to want to do it.
So now is the time to discuss when things go horribly wrong and you hit something this is where things should get interesting and exciting right? You know what’s coming don’t you? So crashing into a dock at high speed does nothing short of halt you to a complete stop, no visual damage. Then it happens, you start going down. But this is done so poorly I honestly thought it was a glitch the first time it happened. The water glitches I was telling you about earlier happen in force, you can happily walk around your boat underwater with no issue and there are so many signs that absolutely no thought has gone into when things turn pear shaped. There is no chance battle to keep it above the water to attempt to make it to a mooring point. The whole thing just feels cheap and poorly executed.
Overall this game has none of the challenge of a simulator, none of the flair of a well-polished title and no appeal whatsoever. As stated at the beginning simulation does interest me as it brings issues faced by the real life counterparts that other games do not offer which creates a refreshing change of pace. But this felt so far from realistic I still have no idea what it’s truly like to pilot a ship. Devoid of any entertainment and reason to make you keep playing other than to simply aimlessly meander around leaves a bitter taste and if you are on the look for an engaging boating simulator I could only recommend looking elsewhere.
I’ve got all this way with not one Titanic reference. I have been your captain on the HMS Game-Debate. Now abandon ship!