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Titanic Shipwreck Exploration [2018 - Immersive VR Education PLC]

Started by Starfox, Jun 16, 2023, 12:38 AM

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Originally published on October 31, 2019

Titanic is a name that people have had dreams or nightmares about for  more than a 100 years. Titanic was not the first ship to sink, it was not even the first ship to sink on her maiden voyage, heck it was not even the first ship owned by the White Star Line (the company that owned the Titanic) to sink on her maiden trip, but for a host of reasons, including the greatest loss of life in a sea disaster outside of wartime, it was certainly the most dramatic in popular culture, so dramatic that it gave way to two investigating commissions (one American and one British) dozens of books, several movies (including the mostly inaccurate 1997 movie by James Cameron) and, yes, even several video games.

Some of those books, movies and games tried to faithfully picture the story of the Titanic while others just used it as a background for their own theories about what went wrong or some inept romancing plot (yes, guilty as charged, I generally like the work of Cameron but Titanic... not one of his best by a long shot) or in more interesting cases, the Titanic is used as the background of an intricate mystery story.

So where does Titanic Shipwreck Exploration fit? Well, the game comes with two parts, one that occurs at the moment when the Titanic sinks; a very condensed version of the events that last about 15 minutes and during which one has no control other than the ability to look around. You witness Captain Smith ordering one of the boat to go toward the ship in the distance (the Californian that was suspiciously absent from Cameron's movie despite the Titanic still firing distress rockets in the movie -- why if the crew thought there was no ship in the vicinity?) then you board one of the lifeboats -- the one with "unsinkable" Maggie aboard. And there you sail away to witness the final moments of the ship.

Two facts about this part of the game: the whole of the real sinking took almost two hours and a half so this part of the game is so condensed as to be mostly inaccurate and second, it was a moonless night and what do you see in the sky? The Moon. That's the kind of detail you want to think about when designing this kind of "historical" game.

But the sinking part is not the main experience in this game. The wreck exploration is. The exploration can be done in story mode or in freeform mode. In story mode you are assigned tasks to complete to follow the story of the recovery of the personal effects of a (fictional I assume) passenger. One doesn't understand why this particular passenger is important or who are exactly the persons paying you to complete the tasks or what their interest is in the matter. It's not really necessary though as the story is mainly there to guide the player in the exploration of the wreck accompanied with comments radioed by your partner acting as a tour guide (those comments are absent in free exploration). The story mode also features some real recorded testimonies of persons who survived the wreck (testimonies recorded in the 50s and 60s when those persons were still alive).

This is where the few problems of this game begin. First there are no subtitles available. So if English is not your primary language (and in some cases even when it is) good luck. There is a console recording what the two main characters are saying at the bottom right of the screen within the main sub but this console is not available anymore when you switch to the ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle, the sub itself being too big to enter the Titanic). This wouldn't be such a big issue if the two voice actors had perfectly intelligible voices unfortunately one of them has some issues in this area and even if there wasn't any issue the radio noise added post recording reinforce the difficulty of understanding what is said in some instances (not all the time, fortunately, but still, subtitles would have been a welcome feature here).

The other problem of the game is that it doesn't let you reassign any of the keys used. What is this? The 19th century? So you're stuck with WASD for controls, even if you don't like that and don't like using a controller. It seems that no matter how many times you tell developers "don't remove the ability to change keys; that will only piss off PC gamers" some of them never get the hint.

There are enough material available (photographs and videos) from the many official dives performed over the years so that the wreck in this game appears conform to the real one even though it might be the wreck in its originally discovered condition of 1985. The game features the crow nest on the forward mast and this one disappeared from the mast in 1986 for whatever reasons (I have no wish to enter the realm of polemics there; you can find references aplenty on the web).

Other than that, Titanic Shipwreck Exploration is a way to fulfill your Titanic curiosity if you have some. It's not the only one mind you, I tested years ago another game titled Dive to the Titanic (still available on Steam) the difference between the two being that the latter was much more simulation oriented and featured the need to manage the battery to acquire enough money to upgrade your equipment, to avoid collisions and so on... Titanic Shipwreck Exploration in that respect is clearly more like an underwater "walking" simulator. One doesn't care about the battery or collisions, the only limitation imposed being the distance at which one can keep control of the ROV (and that is only until the radio is upgraded which happens right after the first dive).

In any event, the game will keep you busy for as long as its story mode lasts (around 5 hours) but after that only real "fans" of the Titanic history may still find an appeal in it. For everyone else I seriously advise to wait for a sale.

Guess what it means!


To be fair they did have a guest on the show. So if they had to choose between dropping calls or dropping Adams rehash to make way for the guest, well, you know what has to go.