This Sub Game Is Out of Its Depth

Friday, February 1, 2008

Submarine simulation games have been around about as long as modern computers. The games have fallen into two categories: modern warfare or World War II.

Shells of Fury offers submarine technology from a different war: World War I, when subs came into their own.

In Shells of Fury, you command one of four submarines manned by the Germans, including a tiny vessel whose primary armament was a scant two torpedoes and a much larger gasoline-powered sub that became the template for World War II sub fleets. You can play historical missions or a long campaign.

One key to a good submarine simulation is the tutorial. Even on a primitive sub, there are a lot of levers and buttons to make the 860-ton beast move. Shells of Fury's text-heavy tutorial isn't very interactive. Critical information, such as where periscope depth is located, is missing, leading to painful trial and error.

The interface is fairly standard for submarine games; different stations in the sub give access to different functions. But the controls vary from sluggish (you must press the autopilot button several times before the sub controls respond) to wildly fast (a single tap to adjust the deck gun a few degrees spins the weapon off the mark by hundreds of feet).

If you are a hard-core submarine simulation fan, you might give Shells of Fury a fighting chance, but other gamers will probably want to look elsewhere.

-- John Breeden II

Shells of Fury Everyone 10+; PC Windows XP/Vista ($20) Strategy First Shells of Fury Everyone 10+; PC Windows XP/Vista ($20) Strategy First

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