All Features


  PlayStation 3
  PlayStation 4
  Wii U
  Xbox 360
  Xbox One


Hostile Waters: Antaeus Rising

Score: 90%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Interplay
Developer: Rage Entertainment
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Real-Time Strategy/ Action

Graphics & Sound:

Rage has had quite a bit of experience making beautiful games--take a look at Incoming and Expendable for the Dreamcast--and Hostile Waters: Antaeus Rising is no different. The islands that the game takes place on are realized in lush greens and deep browns; a fog sets in over the place during the night, only to be pierced by the light of the morning. Truly impressive stuff. The various units that you can control and structures you can destroy are nicely detailed as well; while articulation isn't particularly key for these sort of mechanical monsters, there's enough movement in the game to give the illusion of normalcy. And I absolutely love the way the islands look in the dead of night, with a few red lights blinking from radar towers and not much else. Gorgeous.

As for the sound, the game's soundtrack is solid, if unmemorable. The same goes for the special effects, as you'll hear booms, ratatats, and the usual sounds of semi-guerilla warfare. All of this pales in comparison to the voice-acting in the game, which is absolutely top notch. Each of the crewmembers has their own bevy of speech, ranging from bitching about you taking control of their vehicle to radio chatter after a decisively victorious firefight. They curse [some curse a lot], they panic, they sound like real people. Sure, a few of the sayings are repeated too often for my taste, but I don't remember the last time I played a PC game with this solid of a voicetrack. The game seems to have an option to turn off the offensive speech, but I can't imagine playing without it: for people like Ransom, being offensive is part of their nature.


The nature of Hostile Waters: Antaeus Rising is not immediately apparent. What starts out as a simple real-time strategy game evolves into something somewhere between tactical action and an RTS. You've got the resource-gathering and unit production of the RTSes, but the ability to control each unit on your own [which is sometimes necessary] and the solo unit AI makes for a decidedly unique experience. While the computer AI has some really, really stupid problems, and you'll find yourself frustrated with both it and the interface more often than I'd like, in the end Hostile Waters is one of the most enjoyable experiences I've had on a computer in a while.

The plot of the game is intruiging. It's 2032, and war no longer exists. Nanotechnology is used to create food, clothes, and goods for everyone, elminating the need for money. People live in harmony, breathing clean air and getting along peacefully in a large world government. Unfortunately, many of the power moguls who controlled the War in 2012 have been holed up somewhere, and they've decided to start striking back, launching missiles at various strategic targets around the world in an attempt to take the peaceful planet over.

The Antaeus was the prototype of a series of massive sea vessels, capable of producing weapons of war using nanotechnology. Another, more secret part of the Antaeus experiment was the use of Soulcatcher technology. Whenever a crewman died in service on the Antaeus, their memories and abilities were captured inside a chip. The reborn Antaeus uses these chips as pilots: basically, immortal heroes.

Each of the characters in the game has their strengths and weaknesses. Put Ransom, the crazy pilot, into a tank and he'll bitch and moan; throw him in a heli and he's ready to rock. They also act differently. Ransom has a very bad habit of charging out in the middle of a firefight and getting blown to smithereens; other characters play it more cautiously. All the time, they banter back and forth, giving status reports and complimenting each other.

You start off with a barely-working cruiser. As the game progresses, you gain more vehicles, more Soulcatcher chips [and therefore pilots], more add-ons to put in the vehicles, and so on. The add-ons are a very neat touch: you can adjust both the weapon loadout and the special abilities of any vehicle, customizing it for the task at hand. Everything costs energy, measured in eJ; a unit called the Scarab can be equipped with a reclaiming device that converts any and all scrap metal on the battlefield into energy for use by the cruiser. It reminded me a little of Sacrifice and its souls: each add-on costs a certain amount of energy, as does each vehicle.

The game itself can be controlled from either the Warroom or the main screen. The Warroom is a 3D grid map of the entire area. You can order the units around, group them, and so on in this view. The game starts to play in real time when you jump to the main screen, and you can watch the action from any of your unit's vantage points. If you think they're not doing a good job, you can even take control of their vehicle and try it yourself. Some of the tasks, like sniping, require this sort of control.

Hostile Waters plays itself out across a number of islands, and as it goes a rather intriguing storyline comes to bear. I won't ruin it for you, but suffice it to say that everything is not as it seems. The sense of progression in the game is truly impressive; you'll want to get to the next mission to see what sorts of neat new units you gain and to watch the plot progress.

The game sports no multiplayer functionality, which may irritate some people, but there's enough here to last you a long time in single-player.


Hostile Waters starts out easy enough, requiring you to only have a rudimentary grasp of battle tactics and the control scheme. As the game progresses, though, it becomes more and more challenging, and by the time you've gotten to the second 'map screen' you'll find yourself hard pressed to 'take it easy'. Battles go from being thirty-minute affairs to ones that last hours; the sense of battling an ever-strengthening enemy truly pervades the game. Unfortunately, the complex control scheme is a hindrance to getting over the learning curve of the game; it gets frustrating when you're trying to order your troops around and you end up ordering the wrong ones.

Game Mechanics:

Hostile Waters uses a combination mouse-and-keyboard command system, and even ten hours into the game I still wasn't used to everything that it offered. To truly select a unit, you have to press their number twice; otherwise you press it once to give such orders as 'come to my position' or whatever. Almost every command is mapped onto the QWE-ASD-ZXC section of your keyboard, other than targeting and switching between manual and automatic control. Even after continued play, I still had a habit of setting the wrong orders; the scheme, while amazingly compact, ends up being a little more confusing than it's worth. The game also glitches occasionally, notably when you're reclaiming live units with the Antaeus--fortunately, the glitches don't affect the gameplay, just the graphics.

The core flaw with Hostile Waters: Antaeus Rising, however, is the AI. While I understand that some of the characters are 'happy go lucky', diving into a six-way firefight with a poorly-equipped helicopter is not just bad form, it's downright idiotic. Pathfinding is also usually amazingly stupid, taking ridiculously long routes around hills instead of just driving over the damn things. Fortunately most of the units move fast enough that these sorts of issues become moot; it's still frustrating. Watching a character bombard a hill because an enemy's behind it is also annoying. Good thing you can take control and do the job right.

Hostile Waters: Antaeus Rising could use some tweaking in the AI department, and the learning curve of the interface is little steeper than it should be, but in the end the game will provide many, many hours of enjoyment for those who like both strategy games and action titles. People who absolutely demand a pure version of one or the other should look elsewhere, but they're going to miss what I found to be one of the most enjoyable computer experiences I've had in a while. Fast, tight, and stylish, Hostile Waters: Antaeus Rising is a must-have for any fan of the genres, or of games that do something a little different than everyone else.

-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Minimum System Requirements:

P266, 48MB RAM, 340MB HD Space, 16 bit sound card, 8MB 3D accelerator, mouse, keyboard

Test System:

Athlon 1.1GHz running Win98 SE, 512MB RAM, GeForce 2 GTS w/ 32MB RAM, SoundBlaster Live!, 8x DVD-ROM

GameBoy Color/Pocket Microsoft Pinball Arcade Windows Independence War 2: The Edge of Chaos

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated