Once you complete a mission, you are given a “reward” consisting of a postcard or a video clip to watch. Again, I can’t help but wonder how VSTEP missed the boat (haha) by making the rewards so weak. It would be much more challenging and rewarding to have a successful mission unlock a previously unavailable ship, or allow you to progress to the next, more challenging mission in the campaign. Indeed, there doesn’t seem to be any building up of mission difficulty and instead the mission difficulty varies from ridiculously easy to medium difficulty.
The areas of operation vary widely from tropical island locales to the Antarctic and are quite well done. Though I can’t claim to have visited there, the Sydney Harbor area seems particularly well done. The density of buildings and landmarks are fairly convincing. And while there are other boats on the water that can present a bit of a maneuvering challenge to you, the entire Ship Simulator world is pretty much lifeless. With the exception of the missions where you pluck survivors out of the water, you won’t see anyone on your vessels, other vessels, or around the ports and cities. It rather feels like you are tugging boats into and out of a quarantine zone. There is something somewhat disconcerting about driving around a rigid-inflatable boat with no one at the wheel in the 3rd person view.
One last little gripe is the radar display. Ship Simulator Extremes is a bit like the Strike Fighters of boating. While each ship has different propulsion performance and some might have bow thrusters or maneuvering pods, the basic layout of each ship is essentially the same. If you can drive one of them, you can drive all of them without any real challenge of learning the systems of each. The radar should be an essential navigation tool, but in the sim it does not work in a fashion that would really make it necessary or even worthwhile to use. Returns are all the same, a small dot that grows into a large hexagon return as you continue to scale down.
Here is a video I put together showing different elements in Ship Simulator Extreme.
Ship Simulator Extremes is a good platform that has a lot of potential. The desire to include too many ship types, and perhaps too many environments I feel leaves a few other areas lacking. The mission designs are basic, rather easy, and not very inspiring. Ship handling skills can be important, but you can also fudge your way through and just try to accomplish the bare minimum amount of maneuvering to reach the destination waypoint and get a poorly positioned mooring line to the wharf. While damage can be accumulated for poor ship handling, there is no visible damage model — you just end up sinking. Unfortunately, you’ll find that much ofShip Simulator Extremes just doesn’t live up to the last word in the title. Slapping an exciting word on a title might guarantee you some buzz, but you have deliver on the promise. The sim misses the mark because it misses in too many areas. A mission editor is promised in the coming weeks that might open the sim up to more creative minds (hopefully). Personally though, I wish I could have waited for it to go on sale on Steam for 80% off if that ever happens.
Reviewer’s System Specs
• Processor – Intel Core 2 Quad Q6700
• Motherboard – ASUS P5N32-E SLI LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI ATX
• Memory – Crucial Ballistix 4GB DDR2 6400
• Video RAM – BFG 9800 GX2 1GB PCIe 2.0
• Hard Drive – Western Digital Raptor X 150GB
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