Aces of the Deep is one of the first games I have ever bought. The beautiful war-themed box art was all that was needed to get me to buy it. The little me knowing just a few English phrases was of course overwhelmed by its complexity to the point where I couldn’t enjoy it to its fullest potential. The game came with few awesome goodies like a reproduction of the map used during the Second World War and 200 pages long manual describing not only the game but also intricacies of submarine warfare and its history. I used to browse the book with the help of dictionary for hours. Good old happy days! After many years I have decided to give a game a second chance, this time, its CD-Rom release and this is also the reason why we are going to mention it in connection to the Full Motion Video.
As apparent from the above screenshots, Aces of the Deep is a simulator of submarine warfare. And a darn good one. Frankly, I haven’t played it for long, but it had everything you would expect from such a game. Convincing historical accuracy, good gameplay and nice graphics and sound for its time. I have spent maybe an hour or so with the game and liked that with certain difficulty adjustments I could enjoy the game without getting lost in myriad things to do and punching the wrong button at a wrong time. I easily defeated merchant ship and sunk it with elegance (no surprise there as it was unarmed) and then even got into the fight with the huge escorted convoy. Thanks to my difficulty settings I have survived but I’m 100% sure that if I had realism put up to 11 I would last less than 11 seconds. So I believe the game is for any fan of simulators, your typical leisure player or hardcore sim fan. Occasionally within the game, there are digitized photographs of actors playing out period scenes. This is one of the techniques that Dynamix (developer) used for many of their games, such as Heart of China, Betrayal at Krondor or the Earthsiege series. The person managing all these scenes was Sher Alltucker, a theatrical coordinator. I will certainly look on her work more closely as her involvement in the pre-FMV era is in my opinion quite significant.
The best part of the game for me was a multimedia encyclopedia runnable from within the main menu. The most significant portion of the encyclopedia are interviews with numerous german crew members (some of them were aces during the WW2). Interviews are short, just a few questions highlighting specific battle, a technology used or personality trait of a specific skipper or admiral. Overall very interesting look into history and minds of the people who lived during the war. It is on par with any serious documentary you might see on TV. Interviews are supplemented by additional material, the above-mentioned manual is in there in all its glory, hyperlinked for easy navigation. You can also have a quick look at the period maps and how the war progressed over time or examine the insides of the submarine. Last but not least encyclopedia also contains a full catalog of Sierra titles released at the time and appendix listing people credited for the development and enormous list of sources used when researching the game. I have prepared short overview clip for your viewing pleasure.
Have you worked on the game or at Sierra/Dynamix? Would you like to share a story or two about how the game/multimedia encyclopedia was made? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.