Salad Says: Let’s Review Shark Attack Deathmatch 2

Some games beg to be played at least once, just to know what all the hullabaloo is about, think:

  • Portal
  • The Last of Us
  • Grand Theft Auto

These games generate so much buzz that if you don’t play them, you miss out on years worth of discussion, references, and dumb “the cake is a lie” jokes. Now, I’m not saying Shark Attack Deathmatch 2 deserves to be lumped in with that lofty bunch, but based on title value alone, I absolutely had to find out what this game entailed.

As I waited the measly minute it took for the game to download, I pondered that exact question- what the hell is this about? The title isn’t exactly clear. I know there will be sharks, death, and some sort of competition balancing the two, but I couldn’t suss out the precise premise from title and loading screens alone. Is it a Jaws-Simulator, where I amass as many murdered tourists before Brody blows me up? Or is it a versus match, where Tiger sharks and Great Whites can finally determine who eats more interesting garbage?

As you can see, I did little research beforehand, since I wanted the experience to be enlightening and frightening in equal measures.

Playing The Game: Thalassophobes Beware

Fighting a wounded great white shark

Once I finally got the game up and running, I explored the single player “Survival” mode, as I haven’t cajoled any of my friends or coworkers at Salad Technologies to join me in Selachimorphic slaughter just yet. There are seven maps available, from the “Red Tide” to the “Terror of Atlantis.” These maps function more like arenas, as each is an enclosed space dotted with:

  • Respawning enemies
  • Ammo crates
  • Oxygen replenishment
  • Additional weapons

Your character swims through reefs, ruins, and nuclear subs as they dodge shark attacks (who saw that coming). To battle said shark hordes, you’re armed with a single shot harpoon gun and a trusty knife. Some levels feature a “Chain gun” version of the harpoon weapon, projecting bolt-sized ammo at a much faster rate, though dealing less damage per shot. The deathmatch consists of a dance between downing sharks, gathering ammo, and re-upping on oxygen. Which, for a solid fifty minutes, was downright entertaining.

The enemies of the game are… you guessed it, sharks! You’ll face a gamut of the sharp-toothed fish, from:

Strangely enough, the largest shark in the game (and the one that takes the most damage), is the ragged-tooth shark. It appears larger and heavier than the great whites, but in reality most great white sharks weigh almost a thousand pounds more than the ragged-tooth does.

The sharks all behave in much the same way. Unless you swim close to or attack them, they generally ignore you (much like actual sharks). Once you initiate combat they’ll give chase. It’s fairly easy to kite the sharks without taking any damage. Just circle the side of their head and deliver headshot after headshot until they hang limp in the water.

A great white sneaks in for a tasty diver hors d’oeuvre.

The biggest danger is avoiding their buddies who will dive in to aid their fish friends. The makos and blacktips are especially good at getting a couple nips in while your back is turned.

However, on most maps the shark density is low enough that you can avoid this by checking your minimap for any encroaching red circles. Do this, pay attention to your oxygen, stay near some ammo drop locations, and you can survive the sharks for quite some time.

As the title implies, the match is to the death, and ends when your character finally passes on. There are two ways to go- violent dismemberment at the fins of your enemies, or painful drowning because you couldn’t find an oxygen tank in time. The game penalizes you for either death, but more so for letting the sharks take you down. It then tallies the points for your kills and throws you on a worldwide leaderboard. You can also compare your friend’s scores, if they join in on the mayhem.

I tried out the multiplayer “predator” mode, where you play as the dreaded great white and hunt down those murderous divers. However, after waiting ten minutes no one joined me in the lobby and I got bored of looking through shark tooth-goggles. I was hoping for an intense Left For Dead style versusexperience, but unfortunately I wasn’t playing at the right time, and therefore reserve judgement on predator mode.

Da-dum Da-dum Da-dum Da-dum

Should You Play Shark Attack Deathmatch 2? Salad Says: YES

Admittedly, I didn’t have high hopes for Shark Attack Deathmatch 2 going in to this, and it definitely still has problems, such as:

  • Low map variety
  • Samey enemy AI
  • Repetitive gameplay

I think SAD 2 (I know, unfortunate acronym) nails its visuals. The arenas are interesting to explore as you duck and dive rows of teeth, but there aren’t enough of them to call it a full-fledged single player experience. I would love to see different locations with new enemies like the basking shark or even a megalodon. I mean, just imagine this thing coming out of the murk for you!

I still have a couple reservations about the fundamental theme of the game as well. I know sharks are big, scary sea monsters, but most of them are fairly docile and pose little threat to humans. Hell, some even like to be petted. I’d appreciate a disclaimer noting that this game is entirely fictional, including the shark’s behavior, and perhaps a link to a documentary or shark conservation group somewhere in the title screen.

Despite its flaws, the game is certainly fun to play and easily worth it for the price tag (2.99 on Steam0.75 on Salad). I’m also sure much of the enjoyment is gleaned from playing along with friends and beating each other’s scores, comparative to my lonely experience.

So, if you’re afraid of sharks and need to exorcise some demons, Shark Attack Deathmatch 2 is definitely the shark-slaying power fantasy for you. For everyone else, it’s a fun ride that’s well worth the price of admission.