Apr 22, 2013
Okay. I’ll admit it. I have a fear of sharks. But that doesn’t make me have to, like, turn in my man card, does it? Does it really count as a fear if it involves self-preservation instincts that most living humans have? No one gets cracked on for having a fear of lions, after all.
I’ll admit something else: I wasn’t too eager to review Hungry Shark Extreme. The cover art seemed ominous, and there is something about human legs dangling out of the mouth of a great white that gives me pause. I am ashamed to say that I did overcome my reluctance, and got into the game.
First, the graphics were topnotch. The watery habitat looked sharp, with plenty of blueish background imagery. The animations were especially eye-catching, with the developer re-creating the natural swish of swimming fished more than adequately. The sharks were intimidating, with teeth bared in menacing scowl, and I liked how the game engine guided the fish to scurry away from (or in some cases, attack) me. Attention was paid to the little things; seagulls splashing, the panicked strokes of scampering swimmers, the darkened hues of fading blood… it all looked quite realistic.
The gameplay itself was a clever combination of somewhat standard game scoring and basic marine structure. It was leveled play, and I got to man an entry-level shark, which in this case was a reef shark. I had to eat to stay alive, while avoiding water hazards such as jellyfish, mines, and even target fish that could bite back. With regards to sustenance there was a lot to pick from: multiple types of fish, seabirds and humans, each with different point values. Some fish could be victim and attacker, every now and then, I was accosted by a tasty scuba diver that was packing a knife. Too many attacks caused me to lose life.
To progress, I had to stay alive as long as possible, and accumulate points which made me grow. At a given level/point threshold, I could upgrade to a bigger shark and so on, like from the reef to a hammerhead and eventually a Great White. I could also use the coins generated from points to “evolve” my sea hunter, increasing attributes like speed, and also to but things that would protect me from jellyfish venom and mines. In-game purchasing existed, but it was possible to get on without it, albeit at a much slower pace. I liked the two types of control methods.
All in all, it was a creative adventure that I enjoyed more than I thought I would. I still don’t like sharks, but that probably means this game did it’s job.