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Hostile Waters: Antaeus Rising

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Hostile Waters: Antaeus Rising is a hybrid vehicle and strategy game released on the PC in 2001 by the British company Rage Games Limited. It was inspired by an earlier game known as Carrier Command (Realtime Games, 1988).

Plot

Hostile Waters takes place in a utopian future where war has been abolished. A group of former dictators have come up with a plan to reclaim their lost power. They plan to scare the world into asking for their protection by engineering an artificial threat. The last war machine ever used is reactivated and deployed to stop them. This machine is an aircraft carrier-like ship called Antaeus Prototype 00. Classed as an "Adaptive Cruiser" it houses a series of massive nanorobot assembly units called Creation Engines.

Gameplay

Each Mission takes place on and or near a fortified enemy island containing various forms of anti-air and ground defence, with scattered unit-production complexes powered by oil-derricks that the player can destroy to keep the enemy from replacing destroyed units.

Vehicles are built on the Antaeus and, if desired, can be delivered to land by air-lift. Units are built with energy, which is gathered by recycling objects, scrap metal, and debris from enemies destroyed. Transport helicopters can also fly to an object and airlift it to the ship-board recycler. The carrier can analyze objects it deconstructs, and several of the game's vehicles and items are unlocked by "sampling" them.

The game has a number of vehicles that are progressively unlocked as the missions progress. Vehicles contain a number of slots for equipment. More or less equipment can be fitted on a unit, depending on its size.

Vehicles have an individual damage multiplier such that different vehicles with the same weapon will do different damage. In addition to this, each soulchip personality specializes in one unit along with specific equipment, which, if equipped will gain them a bonus in efficiency.

Limitations

The game was generally well reviewed, but a recurring criticism is a lack of a multiplayer mode. A developer on the game commented that the reason for the lack of multiplayer was due the amount of bandwidth it would require and internet connections at the time and some slow LANs would not be able to cope. Replay value comes instead from experimenting with different combinations of vehicles, weapons and equipment in each of the missions. There is no "skirmish" option to play against the computer on neither random maps nor maps from the campaign. There is only a campaign mode which has no difficulty options. After the campaign mode is finished, there is very little to entice the player to continue. The campaign is considerable in length, however. No material is "unlocked" by completing the campaign either, except the movie clips viewed along the campaign, although this is an attribute more typical of console games.

Story

The storyline was written by award-winning author Warren Ellis, and narrated by Tom Baker, famous for his role in the long-running British science fiction show Doctor Who.

Also adding their voices were Paul Darrow and Glynis Barber, as Walker and Church, both appeared in Blake's 7, another British show.

The year 2012 marked the end of the last war on Earth, a battle not between nations but between the corrupt establishment and the people. The "Old Guard" of fundamentalists fell and the old rulers were defeated, with only a few of their leaders escaping. For twenty years the world has been rebuilt as a utopia of plenty "whose grasp exceeds the moon and stands on the verge of greatness". This is made possible through the use of nanotechnological assemblers, which are used in "creation engines" to create matter from energy and waste. This technology was first developed for weapons creation, but after the war, the Ministry of Technology (MiniTech) made it available for public use, thus abolishing concepts like currency.

Missile attacks are suddenly launched against major cities all over the world. The location of the launch sites is discovered to be an island chicane in the South Pacific and a special-ops team sent in to shut it down. The Ministry of Intelligence (MinIntel) loses contact with it shortly thereafter. In desperation, Central, the global government, authorizes the reactivation of the Antaeus program, a series of warships able to create any weapon using their on-board nanotechnological creation engine. Twenty years ago they were all either destroyed or disassembled. Only two were left on the seabed in case they were ever needed again. One never responds to the reactivation signal, but the other, the Antaeus, does. On-board are a series of "soulcatcher" chips containing the minds of the ship's former crew.

The people firing the missiles are the leftovers of the old guard, fighting with thousands of troops and weapons hidden away when they knew the war was lost. They outnumber Central's army a thousand to one. Along with their superior numbers, the 'Cabal' have also biologically engineered a species of organic machines, designed in the popular likeness of extraterrestrials, which they would use to create the fear of alien invasion, to facilitate their taking over the world. The Cabal later lose control of the species, which eventually kill the leaders and starts spreading, modifying the planetary climate in an attempt to exterminate humanity and make the planet more hospitable to them (which they view as their purpose).

The player, the Captain of the Antaeus, is deployed into the chicane, to stop the Cabal's operations there. As the game progresses, it becomes clear that the Cabal had little control over the 'species' from the very start, but cared nothing for it in their quest to conquer the world. The species exterminates its creators, and resolves to cleanse humanity from the planet using a massive 'disassembler cannon', only to be stopped by the player. The species subsequently attempts to flee into the cosmos and colonize the surrounding planets and stars, by launching a massive number of 'culture stones' (information devices that also double as creation engines) into space. Central's only option is to bind the Antaeus' creation engine and the disassembler cannon stolen from the aliens together to create a makeshift bomb, and detonate in at the enemy's last staging point, an organic, living island grown within hours from the sea by the species. The plan succeeds, and the Antaeus (along with its captain and crew) are sacrificed to save the world. The final cinematic shows the two creation machines moving closer together on the ocean floor.

A scene after the credits also shows that, during the explosion, two of the species' culture stones were launched into space, giving the species a chance at survival.

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