Crash Dive 2, or Crash Dive II: The Silent Service as the game’s art shows, is an open and tactical experience in which you’re at the helm for every decision or indecision. While the game is designed for mobile and tablet devices, it’s a game that translates well to PC. The first game was released on the same devices and systems in 2015, so it’s long overdue for a follow-up. It’s also a lightweight and scalable game that can be played in short bursts or long sessions, giving you that control on how much you want to pursue. Crash Dive 2 is featured-loaded and offers more than I could have thought of to have in a sequel.
Feeling like something resembling different parts of every Silent Hunter game, Crash Dive 2 also straddles the line between arcade and simulation to be a solid amalgamation of naval combat games. With the previous game, you were in a German U-boat, patrolling the Atlantic. With Crash Dive 2, you’re in a United States Gato-class sub. You’ll now be placed in the warmer waters of the South Pacific and head to the Solomon Islands, Philippines, Sea of Japan, and the like. There’s a distinct look and feel difference from the locales and general aesthetic that looks warmer and more inviting, but also more treacherous than ever.
I will say that despite it still being World War II, the personality is lost with the UI this time around. In Crash Dive, each element of the UI looked like a rendered instrument panel, complete with lighting. Now it’s just a flat, plain HUD element. It remains informative, but so much character has been lost in the process. And with the last time I’ll compare it to the prior entry: this game doesn’t even have achievements, where the first did. Despite the game being out as a full release, not currently or previously in Early Access, the game feels a bit lacking in overall presentation.
Panic Ensues Software retains nearly everything from the original Crash Dive, and what isn’t present gets a massive improvement. For example, the sonar is now both sonar and radar, detecting vessels in the water and planes in the air. What’s else is new here is an impressive list of items. Highlights include: a full campaign, improved and detailed damage control, AA guns, navigational waypoints, fast travel, land-based opposition, and more. The game has an impressive day/night cycle, along with weather to include thunderstorms, wind, rain, and more.
Some of the new systems add a whole new dynamic to the game. There’s a whole crew management system now where individuals will have their own respective skills and improve them through use. If they die, they will be replaced, and you will lose whatever experience they had. In addition, your Gato-class sub has a tech tree that you can manually upgrade, or let it upgrade automatically – which lends to the credence of letting you be in control on how in-depth the game is or not for you.
It should go without saying, but the tutorials are absolutely worthwhile. They might be a bit annoying with the popups and all the text, but they will give you all of the information you need to know. There are several ways to enjoy the game, but the Campaign and War Patrol are the most involved, and lengthy portions of the game. But on the whole, the game is infinitely replayable like Crash Dive was. Every mission you’re given, no matter the mode is historically accurate for what missions the Gato-class subs would do back in World War II. It’s a wonderful attention to detail, and helps keep the game grounded.
To get around, you’ll have to use the game’s several time systems to accomplish things. For instance, there’s the returning system of speeding up or slowing down time to advance things. In addition, you can chart a course, and you’ll automatically follow that. There’s now a fast travel system, but this uses more fuel, as a sort of consequence for using a convenient feature such as this. I’m still so hardwired for the old ways of doing things, that while fast travel was present, I ended up not using it.
Combat in Crash Dive 2 will be familiar to those who played the first. Acquire a target, form a firing solution, and then fire a torpedo. When on the surface, you can use deck guns to bring down the health of other ships. And now, if there are planes in the sky you can use your anti-air guns to bring them down. Though be careful, you can down an airplane that could have a trajectory of crashing into your sub. So you do have to be strategic even with airplanes around. This is a game where you can play however you want. Guerrilla tactics and pure combat will often prevail, it will come at the cost of several components of your ship. Enemies are no slouch, either. They will often deploy depth charges, which will do damage and reveal your location, making things a lot harder on you. And it’s just not a good use of resources.
The most effective tactic is stealth. You can run your ship deep underwater, so much so that you can even bottom out, which has relative depths dependent on the location you’re in. You can then use this to sneak in, rise up, fire torpedoes, and disappear from sonar range before attacking again. Leaving your enemy confused and unaware is too much fun not to do. No matter the type of combat you engage in, it’s a cerebral experience.
Crash Dive 2 is not the most attractive game out there, but it does have its moments. What it lacks in visuals, is made-up with its depth in gameplay. While I enjoy most of the additions and improvements here, I personally prefer the first game — though I find them to be on-par with one another. Crash Dive 2‘s best feature is its approachability, blurring the line between arcade and simulation, and streamlining the once dormant sub-genre in clever and interesting ways.
A Steam code was provided by the publisher for review purposes