Is this what drugs are like? Is this drugs?
Or some kind of twisted dream? I was a Salmon with a posse of King Crabs and King Lobsters fighting a Great White Shark… and then I absorbed its genes? No, it’s not drugs; it’s Ace of Seafood. It’s ridiculous in so many ways but there is some crazy fun to be had here.
Ace of Seafood is a third person semi-tactical shooter developed by Nussoft and published by AGM Playism. Playing as a variety of sea creatures (amongst other things), your goal is to gain control of the game’s impressively sized map by killing other marine life that populates the ocean. Killing other creatures allows you to breed them to swim around with you in a sort of “fish posse” as you roam the seas, killing everything in your path.
So, what’s the story in Ace of Seafood? Who knows. There is a fair amount of bad translation that makes any attempt to tell the story a confusing read. Somehow in this futuristic world, “The human mind is separate from the body but has not yet forgotten forms of life…”. What I get out of that line and some others is that humans are now fish and other objects like warships – yes you heard me, warships; you can play as a sentient warship. For some reason in Ace of Seafood, your goal is to gain control of all 38 reefs that are dotted around the map. To “breed” other fish to help, you first have to kill that species to gain enough genes and resources. If that sounds mental, it’s probably because it is.
Most of the frustration in Ace of Seafood comes from controlling your character and the camera. The game recommends that you play with a controller, but I actually found it (relatively) easier to use a mouse and keyboard. Getting too close to the surface can sometimes cause your fish to behave as if Ace of Seafood has forgotten it’s an underwater game, as you become transfixed with sticking to the surface. There are fish in the game with melee as their main attack, but they’re made redundant because after meleeing you have to spend a few seconds trying to wrestle back control of the camera and your fish.
The UI in Ace of Seafood is a mess most of the time. When you engage in combat, there is so much information on the screen and so much going on that it’s difficult to know what you’re supposed to be looking at. The formations in which you can have your posse follow you around are more prominent on the screen than how much health your posse have; the more important information in the HUD like your health is smaller than information you barely ever need to look at. When in the menus the UI looks like a mix between an Early Access game and one of those flash-basedbrowser games; everything is too big and it doesn’t look like much thought has gone into it.
The gameplay in Ace of Seafood becomes stale pretty quickly; playing as a new fish for the first time can add some variety, but most fish tend to share the same set of skills with little variety. Playing as a ship or submarine for the first time can be pretty fun, but again it becomes stale quite quickly; you really only ever need to use ships to take down other ships as they seem invincible to damage from a fish. With a full posse,the screen is flooded so much that it becomes hard to consciously avoid any incoming attacks – not that avoiding incoming attacks is easy to begin with given the annoyance of the controls. The AI is hilarious at times; the first time I fought a great white shark, which should have been quite difficult, was actually extremely easy because it kept getting stuck on terrain. I’ve also seen fish flapping around above the surface, coming out of walls, and there are plenty of times you have to sit and wait for your posse to catch up with you.
The music in Ace of Seafood is another area that lets the game down; there’s about four tracks and each feels like it’s just a 10-second loop, which very quickly becomes tedious. The graphics do an okay job, but the animations of the fish are at 30 frames per second and the rest of the game runs at 60 frames per second which makes the game feel slightly odd to play. Hilariously, the scaling is all over the place; some of the fish are twice the size of the warships; there’s even a reef that’s a German truck which is about 10 times the size of the warships. Generally, I’m drawn to underwater-based games; thanks to a fear of the ocean I find them frightening but fascinating, but Ace of Seafood doesn’t get close to that. The map, though impressively big, has no real definition to it except the reefs, making it incredibly bland. The mess of the UI, the looping music, and the silly nature of it all meant that the only time I was frightened – well, more startled – was when a giant squid just popped in right in front of me. Ace of Seafood is too crazy and ridiculous to have that intrigue I find in other underwater games.
Despite everything wrong with Ace of Seafood, there’s still some fun to be had with it. It’s better than the sum of its parts simply because it’s entertaining in some strange twisted way; creating my posse of fish, giving them all names, and swimming head first into a giant squid was all strangely enjoyable. Ace of Seafood is not completely awful, but there’s no ignoring the plethora of issues that plague the experience.
You win some, lose some, it’s all the same to me.
Ace of Seafood is available on PC.