I’m irrationally afraid of sharks. Yes, even from the landlocked state of Utah, I get chills simply excited about the rubbery grey loss of life tubes which are all mouth and tooth and fin. Sure, we’ve received issues like mountain lions and different
majestic horrifying death-dealing creatures right here, however there’s simply one thing in regards to the shark. Perhaps it’s the impassive beady black eyes. Or that it just about owns the depths of the water (an area that’s, in and of itself, additionally fairly terrifying). Maybe it’s the truth that it does what it does with out arms or appendages. Again, all mouth. But with concern comes fascination.
That fascination with these lethal predators of the ocean is why we’ve got movies like Jaws, Shark Week on Discovery Channel, and certainly one of PSVR’s first experiences was an in depth encounter with a shark. And now Maneater places you within the fins of a shark, letting me change into the factor I concern most. But it’s excess of simply that simplistic expertise. Tripwire went above and past to create a complete…we could name it “open-water shark RPG.” Maneater is the Grand Theft Auto of shark video games; foolish and campy, but someway additionally critical and lifelike? It balances its parts properly, by no means feeling prefer it’s attempting too arduous to be over-the-top.
The identify of the sport is Maneater—you’ll be consuming a superb bunch of people—however you’ll additionally end up chowing down on quite a lot of marine life, from turtles and catfish to seals and different sharks, and even some bigger apex predators of the ocean. After all, a shark must devour a superb quantity if it desires to develop from a tiny little child and attain “megashark” standing to get revenge on the fisherman who killed her mama.
Wrapped within the aesthetic of a nature documentary/actuality present you would possibly see on Discovery Channel throughout Shark Week, there’s considerably of a narrative to drive the toothy carnage, pursuing the hunter across the Gulf and close by waterways. The variety of the environments is fairly wonderful, properly past what I used to be anticipating to get for a recreation a few shark. From the swampy bayou to sandy seashores, there’s even an deserted whale tank that’s been partially reclaimed by the ocean.
It’s all fantastically narrated by the docu-series lead, once more in that good stability of seriousness and joking, by no means tipping its personal hand at simply how absurd it may be. Everything is a wry wink and smile; a bit elbow nudge as if to say “if you know, you know.” Maneater is stuffed with too many popular culture references to depend, most delicate and by no means overtly referred to as out (and plenty of of them particularly associated to the Landmark collectibles you discover in every area. After all, it wouldn’t be an open-world recreation with out collectibles.
Maneater Review – Be the Shark
While underwater sections are often the worst a part of any recreation, Tripwire did an unbelievable job making the shark really feel actually good to manage. It’s all helped alongside by the stunningly lifelike animations because the shark glides by the water, searching her prey. Consuming your meals, whether or not a docile lunch or one thing that fights again, is appropriately violent because the shark clamps her tooth and thrashes it to bits. And on the floor? Big splashes and blood because the shark leaps and thrashes out of the water make a cinematic spectacle of fight with people that will hurt you. Blood clouds the water as surviving prey swims away. It’s actually fairly wonderful how good all of it appears. (I’d have cherished a photograph mode, however alas, it isn’t to be.)
The floor of the water does create one of many largest frustrations I had with the fight although. In order to attain a proper correct shark really feel, you successfully “snap” to the floor of the water as you attain it. Your fin then does the traditional slicing above the water, putting concern into the hearts of all those that see it. Though this works properly generally, it turns into a really annoying characteristic whereas in fight with underwater enemies close to the floor, notably in shallow waters just like the bayou. Battling an alligator, barracuda, or different predators additionally turns into a warfare with the mechanic, trying to maintain far sufficient below the water to forestall the “snap” that pulls you to the floor and interrupts the combat. Still, it’s a comparatively small difficulty, and subsides as you progress into areas with deeper waters, although does current some occasional combating with the controls early on.
Tripwire merely made it enjoyable to be a shark. You really feel highly effective, utilizing nothing however your jaws (and the occasional tail whip) to thrash enemies into submission and devour them for progress. Completing numerous duties and goals rewards your with new mutations and evolutions that you could equip, not solely granting new stats and talents—like surprising tooth or a toxic lunge—but additionally altering the look of your shark. Something a few shark with a glowing blue mouth and bone fins is admittedly rattling cool. And then there’s a catharsis in taking your shark by the waters and gobbling up something in your manner, maybe flopping onto land once in a while to snack on a human or ten.
Maneater Review – Open-World Woes
While distinctive within the shark respect—there isn’t any different recreation on the market that compares—Maneater does fall into among the identical pitfalls that open-world video games are likely to. Missions are exceptionally repetitive, amounting to “go to place, kill certain number of specific creature.” Every area asks you to perform a little inhabitants management on the native wildlife, precise revenge on the native people, after which watch a narrative cutscene that usually doesn’t straight contain your shark. It’s distinctive gimmick of being a shark manages to maintain it fascinating regardless, however the recreation doesn’t do a lot of something to vary up its formulation earlier than the tip.
Both mission construction and fight barely evolve in any respect, presenting diminishing returns for these new evolutions and mutations you get. Even for the ultimate battle, I successfully simply monched and cronched my manner by it with no matter evolutions I had unlocked, consuming the occasional diver and close by fish to revive well being. That’s to not say it wasn’t enjoyable—no, I had fairly a blast for the eight hours or so it took me to beat the primary marketing campaign. But don’t anticipate any revolutionary gameplay modifications. Once a toothy loss of life tube, at all times a toothy loss of life tube.
Beyond the primary story, there are a bunch of collectibles scattered across the Gulf and its close by waterways, however as soon as once more, these are fairly standard-issue open-world collectathon checklists. There’s no actual “endgame” to talk of, so grinding out all the collectibles and upgrades goes to be strictly for the completionists, not any sort of helpful gameplay. That mentioned, there are some entertaining Easter eggs hidden inside the landmark collectibles, and some of the license plates require a enjoyable problem to get. And as at all times you possibly can merely monch and cronch your option to every of them, nibbling on no matter is between you and the subsequent checkbox.
The place the place Maneater actually suffers is in efficiency, notably later recreation when beset upon by a number of predators and hunters. without delay. In intense battles, the framerate would usually sluggish to a crawl, successfully being a slideshow of carnage and throwing all sense of “tactics” (as a lot as there’s any) out the window. Fortunately, button-mashing the chomp button by battles works properly sufficient, nevertheless it was a really notable difficulty that got here up repeatedly within the again half of the sport. I do know that some efficiency points may very well be attributed to my launch PS4, and I’m uncertain of how the sport runs on newer PS4 Pros or Slims.
Maneater’s chew comes from its gorgeous underwater animations, comedic notes unfold all through the sport, and the truth that you get to play a complete recreation as a goddamn shark. There merely isn’t anything prefer it, even when it does comply with among the extra rote open-world playbook guidelines in the case of development and collectibles. A uneven framerate in intense sequences is admittedly one of many solely issues holding the expertise again, however like a fisherman and not using a hand—or a leg—it doesn’t cease me from heading again to the open water for extra. Am I nonetheless fearful of sharks? Hell yeah, greater than ever, however no less than now I may be scares and fascinates me.
Maneater evaluation code supplied by writer. Reviewed on a PlayStation 4. For extra data on scoring, please learn our Review Policy.