I'm with Brad all the way. Sub Rebellion is one of those perfectly solid, perfectly enjoyable games that unfortunately no one bothered to play. Part of the blame has to be attributed to that completely innocuous and utterly forgettable name. Let's face it—the words "sub rebellion" don't exactly get the old heart pumping, nor do they stick in my head for any length of time apparently. The day I went to the store to look for the game, I couldn't for the life of me recall the name; it had vanished completely from my mind. "It's, um, that submarine game for the PlayStation 2…" I said to the patient clerk.
Publisher Metro 3D obviously didn't try terribly hard to distinguish the game in any notable way. Even the boxcover and instruction booklet are half-hearted endeavors, full of second-rate artwork and half-finished paragraphs. It's a shame too, because there's much to appreciate here. The game has the structure and logic of a typical shooter—destroy smaller ships and targets, conserve shield energy, satisfy a few objectives, then confront a "boss" ship. But whereas most shooters pride themselves on their fast-and-furious action—the faster the action, the better—Sub Rebellion actually takes a more novel approach by slowing the pace down.
Sub Rebellion and I didn't exactly get off to a good start. My initial attempts to run-and-gun as I would in a more traditional shooter got me sent down to Davy Jones's locker faster than I could say Das Boot. Trying to turn the Chronos during heated battles was especially aggravating to me; it seemed to take an eternity to wheel my craft around. But in time, I started getting more comfortable with the game's odd pace. Once I got my sea legs under me, once I got a sense of the mechanics of the sub and got a feel for the slower, more strategic pace of the underwater combat—it's quite unlike anything I've experienced before—I started to feel literally like death from below. Steathily creeping up behind enemy subs and filling their hulls full of frag torpedoes simply never got old.
But all is not perfect with Sub Rebellion. The game tells a decent enough story, but it's lazily conveyed via scrolling text. A few cut-scenes would have livened up the proceedings. The graphics, while serviceable, are no great shakes. The game seems to be missing a layer of definition and detail, making it look like a first-generation PlayStation 2 title. The lack of any human faces or human forms—it's all machines all the time, from start to finish—makes the game feel unnecessarily hollow and lonely. And the treasure hunting—or, being a "glorified metal detector," as Brad so aptly puts it—is a complete drag.
All that aside, Sub Rebellion manages to successfully mix elements of shooters, third-person action games and military strategy games to create a truly unique, unorthodox experience. If only Metro 3D had taken a little pride in the game, had given it a better name and polished it up a bit, then gamers might have been able to recognize it as the gem it is.