Enigma: Rising Tide27 May 2003 0
With games like Microsoft's Crimson Skies and Take-Two's Codename Eagle, air and ground enthusiasts have had their fair share of funky, alternate history first-person shooters and simulations. Naval gamers deserve their bit of fantasy too. Tesseraction Games and GMX Media have risen to the challenge with Enigma: Rising Tide. This game is a fascinating mix of what wasn't and what easily could have been with very down-to-earth technology. This product isn't about whiz-bang Buck Rodgers weaponry; it strives to place what could have been real weapons in the context of a not-so-outlandish world.
Engima's world is one where the Lusitania wasn't sunk but British plans to set her up as torpedo fodder were revealed. Casting a plague on the houses of both belligerents, the United States stays warily neutral in World War I. Germany forces Britain (but not Ireland whose revolt was supported by the US) to surrender through a U-boat blockade and installs a puppet government. The Kaiser also gobbles up most of Europe and Africa.
The original British government is not down yet. Going into exile in Hong Kong, Churchill and King George V strengthen their ties with Imperial Japan to form the League of Free Nations. The League dominates Asia and continues a naval war against the "Weltreich" from Singapore, Gibraltar and hidden bases in Norway.
As years go by, every body gets pushy. The League steps up its sniping at naval shipping and the Germans expand into Asia. The US becomes expansionist, pushing into the Pacific and thinking about broadening the Monroe Doctrine to include Ireland. Both the League and the Germans resent Yankee brashness. Players come into this mess in 1936 just as a three-way brawl breaks out. Using weapons and vessels based upon actual 1930s plans and science, careers in the navy of any of the three powers are there to be made or broken on the high seas.
Installation of this 600 MB game follows the usual fine InstallWizard technique. Players may be surprised at the flashed DOS window that appears at loading and at exiting. No fear; it goes away. The 39-page manual does a fine job of documentation and the key and voice commands can be viewed on-screen using function keys. Learning the basics of controlling Enigma's function is quite intuitive. However, actual play can benefit from a tips and hints section. Training missions are provided with very low risk but no actual tutorials or walkthroughs are present.