The early 2000s brought forward an exciting era of gaming. Games like Return to Castle Wolfenstein generated huge buzz for the awesome multiplayer experience along with the single-player with state of the art visuals. These games are hitting 20 years old now and it has gotten to the point where their visual style would be considered “retro”, granting any modern games that replicate their visual style a sort of “free pass” from criticism, much like Minecraft has.
Antarctica 88 is not going to win any awards for looking good but at this point in time, it gives off a bit of a retro charm that will most definitely catch your interest. Is the visual style a sign of a developer aiming to recreate some of the fun games of the early 2000s or is this a complete disaster that is not up to modern game standards?
Antarctica 88 takes place in….have a guess….Antarctica! Researchers stumble upon a cave filled with ancient creatures which have overrun the facility and threaten mankind. With a classic premise and a retro visual style, the game sure did a good job at catching my interest but unfortunately, It fails to deliver on pretty much every single area.
It is very clear that Antarctica 88 was made by a small development team. This is never an excuse for poor quality games, however. Many great games were made by small indie teams. The standards of quality for this are lower than you could possibly imagine.
When you first start the game you will notice several glaring problems. Disastrous control mappings and response speed, menus that don’t work and the voice work sound like it was recorded in someone’s bedroom. It is also worth mentioning that all dialogue is recorded in Russian…with a very bad microphone.
Even if you push past the initial bad impression, you will find it gets reinforced when you come across some enemies. The enemies, of which there are a grand total of 3 types, are incredibly pathetic. These dreaded creatures are easy to outrun and their attacks consist of nothing more than sloppy melee attacks and poorly recorded sound effects.
The standards for character animation went through the roof with the advent of motion capture. Even back in the 2000s, when things were animated from scratch, things had some level of realism. The enemies in this game walk as realistically as you can make a GI Joe figure walk. They look very stiff and ridged.
Killing enemies with the handful of weapons available is pretty dull. None of the guns feel like they have any sort of punch. Wolfenstein 3D comes to mind when you are roaming around shooting enemies.
At the start of this review, I spoke of how the visual style of the early 2000s has fallen into the retro category. Games that copy this visual style should be treated like any modern 8-bit game. While I do still feel this is the case, I do not feel it is true for Antarctica 88.
Something about this game feels like it was built on an old, off white Windows 2000 PC. The visual style does not feel like the artistic objective but instead, the artistic limitation. There is not enough flair to the gameplay that has you feeling like this is a modern game with retro visuals. Even 20 years ago this would have been considered junk.
Game development is a time consuming and challenging endeavour. Sometimes, side projects you work on while you learn how to write code are worth turning into full-blown games. Antarctica 88 is a game that looks and feels like it was built by someone who was learning how to develop games. Someone who should probably take a few more lessons before considering releasing any more games. Antarctica 88 is a waste of money and can be thrown into the pile of shovelware games that people will only ever play for easy trophies/achievements.