Games Gazette Logo

 

MANEATER from Tripwire Interactive is a fun-filled example of a first-person shooter with the exception that instead of using a variety of high-powered weapons you have a Tail Swish and several rows of highly sharpened teeth. Yes you read that right, you are the Shark! 

 

You can swim, eat, explore, jump out of the sea, dive deep to swim through wrecks, reefs, shoals of tasty looking munchies, pods of Dolphins, groups of Groupers and the tastiest white meat known to the Great White Bull Shark - Human!

You may have had fun time after time as an avenging angel, a feared hitman, a car-jacking villain or a para-gliding island exploring mercenary, blowing other humans away with amazing technology and weapons of destruction (mass or otherwise) but until you hear (and feel via the rumble mechanic of the controller) the CRUNCH! of bones as you first Grab, Bite, Shake and then Rip through the bones and flesh of a human being who has dared to put their smelly bodies in your territory, you haven't enjoyed the full experience of your powerful PS4. It is strangely, and worryingly, satisfying.

  

Anyway I'm getting a little ahead of myself. You don't begin as a full-grown Great White Bull Shark. You start out as a 'female baby' and so your ambition is to survive and grow into the fearsome Fin-Swishers your Mummy and Daddy were. To do this you need to learn how to go through all the manoeuvres you will need to enjoy a long life of fun and frolics. This is the tutorial period of the game. You will notice that any injuries you receive may stay on your already scarred body and you will suffer damage, but your health, shown as a bar bottom left screen, will increase as you eat.

Speaking of injuries, in your side is the remains of a harpoon that you sustained when a Shark Hunter killed your mother.

 

As you swim, the fish that come within your view are identified - you see their names (by type) and their health (a white bar) - just so you know what you are eating. Each fish type also has a number preceding its name, such as '6 Parrot Fish' and as yet I haven't figured out what the number means. It could be the amount of food and nutritions the fish will supply, it may be the size of the fish, though you can see that visually. There may be missions where you have to eat so many fish to a value of - the value being the addition of these numbers. The word is, I don't know.

If you remember the tale of JAWS then you will know that the Great White Shark is being hunted by Captain Quint. Well the hunter who killed your mummy is known as Scaly Pete and thus like the film and book (and the original story - Moby Dick, though of course that was a whale not a shark) this is a game of revenge. You want revenge against Scaly Pete! But first you have to survive all that the sea and man throw against you.

 

There are some truly amusing and witty moments of commentary (from Chris Parnell) as well as some adrenaline fuelled fun you can have by attacking smaller ships, pleasure boats, fishing trawlers, rubber dinghys, surfboards etc. You even have the ability to flip up onto the beach, flip-flop on your belly, catch and eat a sunbather or two and jump yourself back into the water. The first time you propel yourself up and out of the water to glide gracefully across the back of a day-fishing boat whilst snatching the angler out of his seat (probably taking the seat as well) before landing back in the water on the other side of the vessel is a time to remember. It's awesome!

You can tail-swipe boats or hit them head-on with jaws wide open, either way it is fun and causes panic onboard, often to the point where someone falls overboard. They swim away as fast as they can but they are no match for you. Toy with them by vtaking an arm or a leg, or both, and then watch them try to swim to safety - it is evil and delicious and so realistic. In fact the movement of the shark and all the fish in the water is beautifully animated and the creatures themselves are also realistically recreated.

It is a joy to play what is generally regarded as a predator. Of course though, you have to remember that this is a game and playing just a single entity growing larger isn't a complete game, you need something else, something special, and so biometrics are introduced - you can do things to enhance your shark, sort of similar to how you would enhance your character in an RPG.

 

At first you need to eat the smaller fish and the occasional Turtle - Turtle shells make them tough to chomp through but they offer no actual fight back. Gaining nutrients (maybe that's what the numbers are?) you then swim into grottos and labyrinths where you can grow and enhance. Boss-fish appear irregularly just to make sure you don't get to blasé and once you have chomped enough humans and attacked enough boats etc there is a bounty on your head which laser-sight gunmen are doing their utmost to claim. You need to keep moving but as you grow so your agility lessens. Making quick turns and circling becomes harder and going faster is like a series of nervous jumps and not particularly well controlled. I am pretty poor at manoeuvering through the water, especially when being chased by hunter boats that seem to be much faster than me and far more flexible in their actions.

 

As your reputation as a man-killer spreads throughout the community so the local video-news crew gain interest in the wave of killings. They locate Sneaky Pete, err I mean Scary pete, nope it's Scaly Pete and head on out with him as he sets sail (figure of speech) on a voyage which they hope will lead to your demise. A series of encounters occur between you and Pete whuch result in him losing a leg and losing his sanity. He goes back to the boatyard and retrieves an old PT Boat in a last-ditch attempt to kill you.

By the time the game has reached this stage I had died a multitude of times, mainly from being too slow to dodge the bullets from those laser-sighted rifles. The shark has grown into a Megolodon, a more than massive Great Shark (generally assumed to be extinct) which could chomp a small liner in half with one bite. The end is nigh, but for whom? You or Pete?

 

Maybe a mite short on length of game time from start to end but most definitely a game that should emerge, in the future, as a classic of the 21st Century

 

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015