The ocean covers roughly 3/4 of the planet. When I think of the ocean, I think of beauty, unimaginable size and depth. Aquanaut’s Holiday does an amazing job at bringing the beauty and unimaginable size and depth to your PlayStation 3 and HDTV.
Being someone who has always been intrigued by the ocean and all its wonders, this game had me interested at the first glimpse. For any of you who have watched Blue Planet, or any educational program on the ocean and enjoyed it, you will be absolutely delighted with this game.
When I first turned on Aquanaut’s Holiday for the first time I was expecting nothing more than some exploration of the ocean, and some cataloging of different species of various ocean life. There is actually so much more than that, as I was pleasantly surprised with many RPG-like features, as well as the mysterious plot… the disappearance of a young marine biologist named Bill Glover.
You take the role of a journalist, that is visiting Kisira Atoll which is also called “Aqua Heaven”. You visit Aqua Heaven while on vacation, because you enjoy the ocean, and are interested in writing a scoop on the missing Bill Glover.
Your main base is Wise Lab, where you will constantly be interacting with the two other cast members, Mr. Robert Kemelman (Chief of Wise Institute of Oceanography), and Jessica Porter (Researcher). As the story progresses they will offer advice, fill in story details, and even offer precious research supplies for your submarine.
You explore the ocean from the safety of Dolphin 02, your trusty, informative, talking submarine. As you discover new places, species, etc, Dolphin will unlock log messages from the missing Bill Glover.
Your travel is restricted at first, but through purchasing batteries, you can re-install batteries in the spent SONOBOUYs that are strewn about the ocean. These SONOBOUYs use sonar signals that allow you to navigate further and further.
After you change the batteries in the first few SONOBOUYs you will discover some rocks that will “sing” using 4 sonar tones. Dolphin 02 will learn these sonar tones which you can use to communicate with “singer” fish using what’s called “twitter”, which is essentially a game of simon, using the 4 sonar tones which are mapped out to the shoulder buttons (R1, R2, L1, L2).
These “simon” mini-games can get quite difficult at times, and there are 400 of these mini-games to play (if you want all the trophies). As you complete each mini-game you receive MEME, which you can use to upgrade Dolphin 02, using a system that looks very similar to the grid used in Final Fantasy X.
While there is a main plot, which takes over 10 hours to complete, there is also side quests, as well as trying to find and catalog 100% of the species, and discoveries. You will uncover everything from giant squid, to treasure chests, to ancient dinosaur fossils, even UFOs. Some of the more rare objects will net you a brief description, but you can also go into your “Aqua Library” and get an up-close view of all your different catches, as well as some detailed info. Expect to spend more than 30 hours trying to complete this game 100%.
The graphics are breathtaking, perfectly animated fish and coral, all with astounding colors. Even the deepest darkest parts of Kirisia Atoll, are brimming with vibrant life. There are times when there are hundreds of fish on the screen at once, each with different habits and patterns, with barely any slowdown.
The game does a wonderful job at giving you a deep submarine diving experience. There were some points where things looked so deep that you would actually feel panic as you submerged lower and lower. Some of the animals such as the Great White Shark, or the Right Whale, are so truly large, that your heart will pound with a mere glimpse.
For you audiophiles out there, Aquanaut’s Holiday supports 7.1 surround, and has some of the most realistic ocean sound effects I have ever heard. The game music is very relaxing, and calm. Much different from all the shooters, and sports games the majority of us play.
The gameplay itself is very simplified. Don’t expect any button mashing or over-the-top maneuvers. That being said, the controls are very easy to understand, get the hang of, and become a pro at. However, be prepared to smash off walls if you plan on using the boost.
Aquanaut’s Holiday also takes advantage of the PS3’s snapshot feature, which by the way, all of the images you have seen were taken using the in-game screenshot feature.
The biggest fault this game has, and probably the main reason we will never see this game released in the US, is due to the deeply spiritual story line. This leads to a lot of confusion, and a lot of unnecessary craziness going on. Another complaint I have was that you had to go back to Wise Lab, just to save, which left me re-playing some areas, as I forgot to save before quitting the game. Lastly, I want to mention a petty nuisance that eventually got to me… Your character constantly says “well” before and after every sentence. This is most likely due to sub-par translation.
Speaking of translation, this game is in FULL ENGLISH if you buy the Chinese/English version from play-asia.com, and as long as your PS3 system language is set to English, all of the trophies are in English as well.
If you are someone who is curious about exploration, if you love the ocean, or just wonder what it would be like to scour the vast ocean floor, then this might be your only chance to experience the ocean so intimately.
If you do decide to pick up this game, here are a few helpful links if you happen to get stuck, or if you want to reach 100% complete, and the Platinum Trophy.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
Some of the most spectacular graphics available on the PS3.
Includes a unique RPG twist.
Deep story, though it may not be interesting enough for some.