Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Review: Aquatopia

Aquatopia (2007)
Developer: London Studio & Playlogic
Platform: PlayStation 3
Purchase Date: 11/14/2007

I have to admit that I am a sucker for aquarium "games". In real life, I have two small tanks filled with my pet gold fish and I plan to start a salt water tank in the foreseeable future. The best in the genre so far has to be "Seaman" for the Dreamcast, a weird experiment of pet-care aesthetics combined with a little dash of Star Trek... Well, technically, you really can't call Aquatopia a game... Even on the PlayStation Store, it is listed as "interactive art". It's more in line with the Serene Aquarium products on the PC but a tiny bit more innovative.

It looks epic on the XMB...

Running at 720p, the graphics in the game are pleasant. Nothing spectacular, just pleasant... Which is very disappointing the fact that it claims to use the Havok engine and it is specifically developed for the PlayStation 3. There are 3D grasses and fish inside the aquarium with everything else being flat, static 2D. Some of the fish look a bit blocky, a sign of the developer's laziness. Surely the PlayStation 3 can push more polygons into the game? Overall though, it is the best looking digital aquarium I have seen to date and it has fish that move more naturally than its competitions.

Looks nice doesn't it? It looks better in motion.

The game is controlled with the PlayStation Eye camera. When there are movements in front of the camera, the image of what's captured on the lens is superimposed on top of the aquarium. From here, you can move your hands to the top portion of the aquarium to simulate feeding, where the fish would gather around that area eating the dropped food, or just mess around inside to spook your fish.

Nothing else to do other than watching the fish...

That's pretty much it. In a way, the limited features found here justifies the $1.99 price tag. Still, Sony could have given us a bit more. The fish selection is limited. There are no background customizations or view options. These are small essentials that could have been included with the software. It would have been cool to be able to play music on the PS3 while this thing is running. Better yet, wouldn't it be nice to have it as a screensaver? I have a feeling that we will see more add-ons for Aquatopia in the future. To be honest, I rather pay $39.99 for the complete experience than having to pay for bits and pieces of it at a time. Recommended to other aquarium fanatics like me but others should stay clear of it until it gets more interactive.

RATING: 3 out of 5

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