The polar ice caps have melted and the challenge to survive involves leading your atoll-dwelling tribe to find pure water, food, and the most coveted possession of all - Dryland.
As the War Chief, your primary objectives are annihilating the enemy and ensuring the survival of your atoller crew. To do this, you must out-think and out-fight your foes in ruthless combat. The bodies pile up as you and your crew repel all invaders using cunning strategy and split-second timing. As the game progresses, build up your characters' abilities and strengths for more intense challenges.
Manage resources between missions so you can spend more time devising your next attack. Maneuver your forces over 3-D rendered terrain and issue battle orders in real-time scenarios. Lead each offensive and defensive mission while fortifying your atoll using captured weapons and resources that strengthen your ocean citadel.
Using never-before-seen footage from the motion picture together with new original scenes featuring the actual sets and actors, Waterworld brings you a whole new level of real-time strategy adventure. Remember, somewhere beyond the horizon, the legendary Dryland awaits.
~ advertising blurb
The Waterworld movie had a difficult history. It fired its Director mid-production, it ran way over budget to become the most expensive film ever made at the time and received poor critical reception. That said the film still made a profit and personally I still really enjoy it. The film is action-packed, with nearly all of it being in-camera stunts as opposed to an overuse of CGI. There is even another cut of the film called the Ulysses Cut that adds an additional 40 minutes of footage.
It is perhaps for the fans like me that developer Intelligence Games and publisher Interplay decided in 1997 to release a game two years after the film despite its critical reception. Either that or they were way behind schedule and just wanted to recoup some of their investment.
Like the film, the game's setting is a post-apocalyptic vision of earth's future. All of the polar ice caps have melted causing nearly all land to be fully covered in water. Survivors have adapted to live on man-made floating atolls making life a daily struggle. If dehydration and famine don’t kill you, the raiding bandits dubbed the ‘Smokers’ will. This is all recounted to you in an opening FMV sequence which utilizes footage from the film both seen and unseen as well as scenes shot specifically for the game. You'll periodically be rewarded with a new sequence throughout the game and they are generally well made and well-acted. This wasn't the norm at the time, but then again most didn't feature the original cast of Hollywood actors, even if they only had smaller roles in the film.
Your role is that of a war chief of an atoll that has just been attacked by the Smokers and left for dead. You and the remaining survivors desperately set sail to find a new floating home and that means violently overthrowing another one. This is an interesting premise of desperate people trying to survive and looking for the hope of something better: dry land. You can get a better understanding of the turmoil caused by the situation through narrated diary entries of the war chief which adds a little bit of extra depth to the story.
Before each mission begins, you are presented with a map screen where a brief overview of your mission and key objectives will be narrated to you. There are about 22 missions in total, and they all require attacking someone’s atoll or defending your own. You can outfit your party with a variety of weapons and items to best help them achieve their objective. Once ready for war you can decide where to start your troops on the map. As the war chief, you must decide how best to use this information; do you split up your party and navigate the level in two separate routes or do you group them all together and overwhelm your enemies.
The gameplay is that of a top-down real-time strategy. You have a handful of troops to control, which you can select singularly, in groups or all as one. The main crux of the game is to kill all the enemies and loot all the items you find, but there are other objectives such as defend valuable locations or items or rescuing your captured tribesmen.
There is not a lot of depth to the game. You don’t get to decide on how many troops go on each mission and they have no stats that differentiate them from each other. The most you have is the survivors from previous missions display shark teeth on their profile pics which correspond to the number of kills they've tallied. I believe this may make them better in battle in my playthrough these troops seemed to survive more often than other replacement troops (this was sadly not the case for me - Biffman). However, this may have been down to me equipping them with the best weapons and equipment.
The AI in the missions isn't particularly well thought out. In every mission, as soon as one enemy sees you most of the rest will decide to run to your position and attack. For the few that don’t, you just move your team to their position and mop them up. I quickly realized I needed one strategy to win; group all my troops together with ranged weapons and just wait to be attacked. Then, after the slaughter, pick up all the loot scattered around and mop up any stragglers. That said, I did die almost instantly in the first atoll defence mission, but I realised straight away why. I had carefully split my troops at key points thinking about what weapons would best counter the attack. However, the enemies were just running directly to the target and capturing it. So, to counter this, on my second try I positional all of my troops in front of the enemy's goal and just sat back and watched as they all ran into my projectiles, mindlessly getting slaughtered.
Overall, Waterworld is a well-presented game with decent gameplay, graphics and well-acted cutscenes. Personally, I was a little disappointed they didn’t use James Newton Howard's film score but even so the sound design is pretty good. In many respects, it is a fun little game though fans of the genre will find it to be far too simplistic. The game's biggest flaw; there's no strategy in their strategy game. You may enjoy your trip to this world, just don’t expect anything as deep as the water.
To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses DOSBox to bring the game to modern systems. Tested on and Windows 10.
File Size: 507 Mb. Install Size: 664 Mb. Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ
Waterworld: The Quest for Dry Land is © Interplay
Waterworld (the movie) is © Universal Studios
Review by HeroOfAvalon
Cover Design and Installer created by me