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Xbox Live Arcade Review: Undertow

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When Xbox Live started screwing up, Microsoft decided to make it up to everyone with a free game, which turned out to be Undertow. Most people weren’t satisfied, either because they wanted a better game or because it wasn’t enough. Well Xbox Live is still on the fritz from time to time, but what of Undertow? Is it any good?

Undertow‘s main controls utilize both analog sticks to control the player and shoot, as well as both bumpers to dash and drop depth charges, so control-wise, it feels like Geometry Wars. Except with a guy. In a scuba suit. With flippers. And magic depth charges.

The story is a little strange and isn’t very deep, which kind of left me wondering what was going on. I kind of wish Undertow had a better story to go along with some of the other elements that it excels at. I actually found myself not really caring about the story after a while.

The graphics for the game are pretty average, and the voice acting is great, but the biggest problem comes from the fact that your character is so damn small it’s sometimes hard to find yourself amongst the scenery. Not to mention that the cut-scenes seem like they’re from 2002 and not 2007 – and I wish I could skip them. But alas, I can’t, and neither can you.

Game play centers around depleting your enemies points down to zero through a variety of means, including killing enemies and capturing bases. Those two things are the brunt of what you’ll be doing to try and beat each level, but after a while this gets boring, even with the different classes to choose from. Thankfully, there’s also online multiplayer game play to keep your interest, but good luck finding friends on Undertow.

No, seriously. I rarely see anyone playing it on my friends’ list.

So in the end, it turns out that Undertow isn’t too bad of a game, but it’s still far from a perfect experience. With a little more time in the oven, Undertow could have been one of the elite titles on Xbox Live, but it now stands as slightly above average.

Pros: Has good controls, online multiplayer and good graphics. What more could you want?

Cons: Oh yeah… a good storyline. Also hard to see yourself on the screen sometimes, and generally repetitive game play can get boring.

Undertow is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) by the ESRB for Fantasy Violence.


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About Brian Szabelski

  • kevlar51

    If you hit start during gameplay and go to options you can zoom in so that you see your player better. This is highly advisable for folks with standard definition.

    Also, those cut scenes can be skipped by hitting start and selecting “skip.”

    The story line gets a bit deeper if you read the game info on xbox.com, but not much.

    Do you only play multiplayer games if people on your friends list are playing?