Nov 26, 2007
Upon first play, it's almost too easy to dismiss Undertow. This side-scrolling shooter featuring the usual, "left stick moves, right stick shoots" controls and absolutely tiny characters really doesn't make a dazzling first impression.
But give the game a chance, and it may just surprise you. On the surface, Undertow is a simple shooter, but under the waves is where you'll find out how much strategy is required to keep from drowning at this excellent multiplayer game.
OK, enough water metaphors.
Undertow is basically a variation on the Domination multiplayer match type found in many first and third-person shooters. The main idea is to control a certain number of points on any given level, which in turn will reduce the other team's "tickets." Whichever team runs out of tickets first or is completely destroyed with no way to respawn is the loser.
During each match, if you or a teammate floats near to one of these spawning stations for long enough, you take control of it. If it's already controlled by the opposing team, claiming ownership takes twice as long. Whichever team owns the most points on the map drains the other team's tickets. The more points you have, the faster their tickets go down.
You're given unlimited lives, as long as your team owns a spawning point. So if the opposing team owns all points, and only one of your teammates remains alive in the match, then you have no place to respawn and continue the fight. However, if that teammate manages to capture just one station, all of your dead teammates are revived, which can lead to a major momentum swing in any given match.
It's the deceptive simplicity of Undertow that makes it compelling - that and the easy-to-learn rules and controls. Yeah, it tends to look a bit budget-game at times, but you'll get past the visuals pretty quickly once you start to appreciate the game itself.