Last month, the first free to play 3DS game for the Western audience was finally released – Steel Diver: Sub Wars.
Steel Diver: Sub Wars is the second Steel Diver to be released for the 3DS but unlike the first game, Steel Diver: Sub Wars puts you inside submarines as you do battle against other sea-faring vehicles in a first person perspective.
Controlling the submarines is easy – you can move forward or backward and turn left, right, up or down. You have normal and homing torpedoes, a periscope, and a masker (a cloaking device of sorts) in your arsenal. Your secondary screen shows your sonar as well as provides other helpful information like your depth level, speed, and number of homing and normal torpedoes left.
The submarines are slow-moving (as they should be) so at first glance the action seems to be slow, but once enemies are within range things can get pretty intense. Because torpedoes are slower than bullets or lasers, the submarine battles become an exercise of dodging incoming torpedoes while trying to hit with your own.
There are two modes of play in Steel Diver: Sub Wars, the first is a Single Player campaign where you accomplish different missions. The second is a multiplayer mode that you can play either online or locally. In both modes you can select from several different submarines, each with their own characteristics like turn rate, surfaced and submerged speed, health, dive/surface speed, reloading time, number of torpedoes, and range. You only have access to two submarines in the Free Version, and a total of 18 different submarines in the Premium version of the game.
Steel Diver: Sub Wars involves a lot of skill, but it’s a little “pay-to-win” because the Premium version submarines have generally higher stats than the two Free submarines. To get these higher level submarines, you’ll need to rack up wins and gain levels in Multiplayer mode, but once you do you definitely have an advantage against those who only have the Free version.
Each submarine can also accommodate a certain number of crew members that can modify the characteristics of submarines, like improving the reloading time or increasing the time of the masking effect. There are 32 crew members available in the game – six of them can be found in the Single player missions of the Free Version and eleven in Online multiplayer mode. Here’s where Premium version players also get an advantage – some of the Premium submarines can allow you to have three or more crew members while the Free submarines only allow you to have one or two at most.
The Single Player campaign consists of seven missions, with only two missions playable in the Free Version. Each mission can be played in three difficulty settings, and you can earn two different medals per difficulty in each mission depending on how fast you can complete it. Since I only have the free version, I only played the first two missions and both were pretty basic – the first mission involves having to go through several “rings” which trains you on movement and the second mission involves destroying different kinds of marine vehicles to practice your combat skills.
The real fun of Steel Diver: Sub Wars can be found in the game’s multiplayer modes. Locally, up to eight players can participate in a two-team battle. There are nine different arenas to choose from, each differing in size and layout.
The online version is a little different. First off, you get to choose between battling against worldwide opponents or against your region. Then, you’re asked to choose between a Random Battle where opponents are chosen randomly by the game, or a Matched-Skills battle where you don’t earn any points. If you’re the competitive type who always needs to win or keeps win/loss records up, you might get frustrated with the Free Version of Steel Diver: Sub Wars because of the random match ups and the Premium player advantages.
A big flaw to the online multiplayer mode is that it does not have a feature that allows you to fight with your friends. I don’t get why this feature was omitted from the game – all the other multiplayer 3DS games like Mario Kart 7 and Resident Evil: Revelations allowed you to play with friends. So if you want to play a multiplayer match against your friends, you’re limited to local play.
So is Steel Diver: Sub Wars Free Version worth it? Definitely – it’s free! Unlike demos which can only be played a limited number of times, you can play Steel Diver: Sub Wars as many times as you want. You won’t play the single player modes that often, but the local and online multiplayer modes can be a lot of fun and comes in handy during Street Pass meet ups, especially since there aren’t a lot of 3DS games right now that can accommodate more than four players.
While it’s not a game that I play every time, Steel Diver: Sub Wars Free Version is a good enough first person shooter game on the 3DS. Again, it’s free, so there’s really no reason to not download a copy.