Sharks are probably the most famous animal species on the planet. And not just because they occasionally bite a little human being in the calf at New Smyrna Beach in Florida. The great white shark is the star of a Spielberg classic, it attacks aggressive cartilaginous fish from the sky in a total of six sharknados and in many other trash films they compete against giant octopuses, crocosaurs or robot sharks. Already Dr. Evil knew that the beasts only got more dangerous if they were strapped with lasers and Homer Simpson consequently referred to the biting little fish as "kings of the jungle".
We now all know, of course, that this is not quite right. Humans are more dangerous to the shark than vice versa, but the myth of the shark lives as a bloodthirsty beast. So if we assume that sharks actually cause chaos on the beaches, do they have a good reason to hate mankind? By this we do not mean the general pollution of the oceans, but something much more personal. In Tripwire's Maneater (buy now for € 39.99) we can now slip into the role of a bull shark ourselves and experience an extremely trashy story of revenge.
Maneater is in the form of the reality TV format Sharkhunters vs. Maneaters presents, in which the cameras follow the cruel shark hunter Scaly Pete at every turn. Right at the start of the game, the old Stinkepeter pulls a bull shark female out of the water, cuts it open and snatches the unborn cub out of the body, which we will control in the future. Pete gives us a scar so that we can identify us later and our shark returns the favor by biting the redneck's arm before jumping into the water and disappearing.
Source: PC games
Scaly Pete wants to kill us now because of course he can't play Twister with his Hillbilly friends anymore with a hook hand. We, on the other hand, want revenge for the murder of our mother. As a small, weak shark baby, of course, we would not have a chance in a fight, so we have to eat a lot to get big and strong. Our way from a young animal to a teenager to a full-grown animal and even to a mega-shark is commented on in a wonderfully dry manner by the moderator of the reality show. This is really a funny idea, but after about three of the ten to twelve hours it takes to finish, the sayings are repeated.
Repetition is a good keyword anyway, because the maneater gameplay is very repetitive and incredibly uncreative. In each of the seven areas that we gradually unlock, we eat fish and turtles to get stronger. We receive nutrients that ensure that we rise and grow in the level. In addition, we have to perform tasks in the open-water areas to lure out the local predator, the boss of the respective water.
Source: PC games
In the swamp, for example, we fight a giant crocodile, while a white shark awaits us in the beach region or a sperm whale awaits us in the Gulf. Until these beasts come out, however, we have to do the same tasks. More than "eat ten mackerel!" or "Eat five people!" unfortunately the developers didn't think of it. Sometimes there is not even a difference between the creatures we are supposed to feed. We also had to eat ten turtles three times in a row and then in the next area just as often eat ten hammerhead sharks in a row.
Maneater leaves an incredible amount of potential here. Based on the overall premise of the game, Tripwire can be assumed to be aware of the game's trashy approach. It is all the more incomprehensible that this B-movie feeling was not exhausted with a few crazy missions. If you switch the same tasks in the gamer autopilot and you get a lot of ideas with mission types or game elements that would fit well and would be fun, that's not a good sign for the developers.
The optional side tasks are also less imaginative. Either you should eat more people or kill a certain enemy or you search for the landmarks in the area. If you are not a compulsive accomplice, you can move on to the more annoying side tasks relatively quickly. The maximum level of 30 and thus the evolution to the mega-shark can be reached a long time before the last section if you eat fish diligently. However, the few encounters with Scaly Pete are only triggered when you have completed a certain number of side tasks.
Source: PC games
As you can see from the previous section, as sharks we also have to fight a lot of fights, because alligators, killer whales, barracudas and other sharks regularly fight. However, especially at the beginning of the game, you have little chance against the other predators because you are still too weak and too small. However, if you want to eat a certain number of fish or turtles in a quest, enemies are always nearby.
If you spot us, they will stop eating immediately and want to hit us. So we have to keep our distance or choke a few fish and then quickly escape from the predators. This is a bit annoying at first, but it is of course all the more satisfying to return to the area later and to be able to eat opponents that you had to fear just before with relatively little resistance or, depending on the enemy level, even with a bite.
In general, the fun increases noticeably when you have become a fully grown shark after a few hours of play. Then the premise of the game finally ignites and you really feel like an almost indomitable beast. Maneater is then still not a game with which one blows the nights over the ears, but for 30 to 60 minutes in between the title is really fun.
At some point, however, the air is out again or you are even annoyed, because maneater is not only repetitive in terms of mission design, the fights are always the same. If an opponent has grown halfway under water, you dodge his attacks with the upper right shoulder button, turn, accelerate towards him with L2 / LT and bite with R2 / RT.
Source: PC games
If you have the right timing, the enemy is defenseless for a short time. If you have a higher level than the opponent, you can also hold it in your mouth and shake the vital force out of it with the right analog stick. Especially in the fight against the top predators, it is not so easy with the right timing, since they often shoot far past you with their attacks. In these boss fights we always followed the same pattern: bite, bite, dodge, bite, bite, dodge, turn, gain distance, dodge, bite, bite … you can imagine how it goes on.
Instead of giving the top predators different attacks or behavior patterns, the developers simply out-leveled them so that they do a lot of damage when they hit us with an attack, and of course they can withstand quite a bit themselves. As a result, the boss fights are not more exciting, they are just more difficult. This is really uncreative and downright lazy game design. This is particularly noticeable if you are level 30 as a mega-shark and are super powerful, but then you put a level 65 predator in front of you who, due to the always working and always the same tactics in combat, has none Challenge, but just employment.
Source: PC games
Even if you don't mind the repetitive fights, the controls will probably get on your nerves quickly. This is a bit fiddly and inaccurate anyway, but the biting will be really exhausting if it takes place in not too deep water. If you approach the water surface, the game automatically switches to an above-water perspective, which is then fixed. You only dive again when you press the square / X key. In combat, you often involuntarily approach the surface of the water so that the camera switches and you lose sight of your opponent. So you dive, have to re-orient yourself and if you are unlucky, the camera switches again during the next evasive maneuver.
Fortunately, the only level of difficulty in the game is not particularly high, so that you can crack every opponent at the latest on the second attempt. That's a good thing, because there are no real checkpoints. After a demise we are dropped off in our shark grotto of the respective area. It's not that bad that we can't jump right back into the fight. We were rather worried about the awfully long loading times.
But of course, as a misanthropic sea monster, we don't just mess with a few other fish. We also regularly eat a couple of nutritious human meat sacks that frolic on the beach or dare to swim in our waters. We simply snap the swimmers out of the water, we grab people in boats by jumping out of the water on board. Since we can survive outside of the cool water for a short time, we sometimes jump on land, provide a bloodbath and then bounce back into the water.
Source: PC games
Of course, we don't get away with this for long, because Maneater has a kind of search system. If we eat a lot of people, our wickedness increases and people send shark hunters to search for us. It's easy to escape from them, but it's worth fighting the heavily armed rednecks. When a new level of infamy is reached, a special hunter appears. If you kill him or destroy his boat, you get a piece of special armor – this also happens if you kill a top predator.
Source: PC games
For example, you get parts for bone armor or electrical upgrades that can be used to equip your head, teeth, body, fins and tail. As a bony shark you become more resistant and can bite boats more easily. With the electrical upgrades, however, you can dodge faster and electrify opponents with a bite. It is annoying, however, that we always have to go back to our grotto to create parts, improve them with nutrients or reach a new growth level. Despite swimming back and forth, we consistently gave our shark a number of upgrades and became even more powerful in order to survive against the increasingly heavily armed shark hunters.
It's quite fun to destroy their boats with just a few bites, but these fights are always the same: you press the dodge button and jump at the opponents. If there are several enemies on the screen, Maneater also starts to jerk violently, and if you are unlucky, you fight at an area boundary and the game suddenly jumps to the loading screen. Yes, here too, repetitive game design and technology cloud the fun of the game.
Source: PC games
Maneater has some technical problems that can get you in the mood: in fights it jerky, the camera sometimes spins around, the controls are often fiddly, textures sometimes reload very late, the loading times are long and the game crashed twice just off. Here you have to ask yourself whether the developers have taken over with the Open World or whether they would have simply needed some more time to fine-tune them.
Source: PC games
Nevertheless, not everything is bad, because although Maneater can of course not keep up with the look of current Triple A games, the title is quite nice to look at. Our shark looks cool and dangerous, the other predators are nicely designed and splatter friends enjoy flying limbs and red colored water. The seven areas are also wonderfully varied. We swim through the swamp, along the city beach, in the channels of a holiday resort, in a water park and even in the depths of the gulf.
The areas are visually very different and shine with pretty lighting effects. The game world is as promising as the game's premise, which makes it almost more disappointing that the developers came up with so little. Maneater is definitely not a bad game. Although it suffers from the uncreative, always the same gameplay, in between the title is really fun for a short time, if you have survived the somewhat slow start. However, the technical quirks pull the title into deeper valuation waters.
The test video for Maneater is currently under construction and will be released in the next few days.
"Grand premise, half-baked game!"
I like maneaters. As a big B-Movie fan, of course I have a lot of fun steering a bloodthirsty shark through a trashy, self-neglecting story and causing a lot of chaos. Yes, Tripwire could have made a lot more out of this premise and leaves a lot of potential, but the title is still good as a lock-up for in between. The repetitive game design was partly on my laces, but I could have closed my eyes and pulled out a 7. However, the technical quirks are too pronounced for this and annoy a few short gaming sessions. If you like the Sharknado parts or other shark Schlockbuster, you do not have to delete Maneater from your wish list, but you should be able to overlook some shortcomings and definitely wait for a few patches.
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