As someone who has been playing videogames for over 40 years, it’s fair to say there isn’t much I haven’t done whilst holding a joystick or controller. However, as I write this review, I’ve been wracking my brains and I don’t think I’ve ever played a game where I’ve controlled a shark. I’ve been a dolphin in Ecco The Dolphin on Sega Megadrive, but let’s be honest, Ecco The Dolphin was shite! It looked good, but it was shite!
Dolphins are amazing creatures, but they don’t compare to sharks. Not in videogame terms anyway. Ecco could gracefully jump out of the water, ping his radar and headbutt things whilst trying to save his pod. Sharks on the other hand can cause absolute mayhem by eating people, smashing up boats and picking fights with other underwater beasts. Nobody fucks with sharks! Sharks can be complete wankers and get away with it! *Apologies for the bad language, but I’ve just finished watching the second series of The Boys. I blame The Butcher. Just be grateful I didn’t call Ecco a c*nt!*
Come to think of it I’m surprised there haven’t been more games based around sharks. There was Jaws Unleased (which I didn’t play) from 2006, but that is about it. Now thanks to PlayStation Plus I’ve recently got the platinum trophy on shark adventure Maneater. Also, I can now say I’ve played a videogame where you control a shark.
The “story” (and I use that word lightly) behind Maneater is told from the point of view of a reality TV show crew following around a shark hunter. At the start of the game he captures your mother and cuts you from her stomach. (From now I’ll refer to the shark as Charles.) Charles manages to escape, and the plot then revolves around his revenge against the hunter. Anyone who has seen the Richard Harris movie Orca from 1977 will know this is the plot for that particular film.
Charles starts off as a small shark who must eat other fish and sea creatures to level up or evolve. There are basic RPG elements as Charles gains experience for completing various tasks, finding collectables and eating things. As Charles gets bigger and levels up, different parts of the map open up and you gain additional abilities to help him in his quest for revenge. You can customise Charles (I realise how ridiculous this sounds as I type it!) by adding different type of teeth, fins and skins. These add abilities such as electrical damage, additional damage to boats and so on. Charles also has a sonar ability which can be upgraded (who knew sharks could do this) so he can find hidden collectibles and other items.
The controls are relatively responsive and easy to get to grips with. Right trigger is the chomp button and I did find my finger started to cramp up a bit because of how often you mash it to eat things. The other thing I noticed whilst playing Maneater is that I couldn’t help but say out loud “om nom nom nom” every time Charles munched on something!
The play area is split into different sections. To move on you must complete various tasks such as eating people/different type of fish, picking fights with the apex predator (aka the boss of the area) and so on. To be honest although each area looks different, the main gameplay is exactly the same and doesn’t change much from level to level.
Charles being a shark can obviously bite things. He can also maul and shake creatures if he is big enough. Charles can whip his tail to stun enemies and also jump out of the water. One of the upgrades Charles can get is to spend longer out of the water without running out of oxygen. I’m sure you can imagine the sight of a giant shark flopping around a golf course eating golfers is quite amusing.
If all of this sounds utterly ridiculous then it is. Maneater is one of those games that isn’t very good and quite frankly could be called a bit boring as you do the same things over and over again. The graphics are fine, but not exactly what you would expect for a current generation game on PlayStation 5. Put it like this, I wouldn’t pay full price for a game like Maneater.
However, although Maneater isn’t what I would class as a triple A hyper polished game, doesn’t mean I didn’t have fun with it. Maneater is one of those games like Carmageddon. You know its crap whilst you’re playing it and there are far better polished experiences out there, but it is also mindless fun. To use a food analogy, Maneater is like a Big Mac. You know it’s crap food and not good for you, but you can’t help but enjoy it while it lasts.
I played Maneater shortly after I had just got the platinum trophy for Horizon Zero Dawn. If you haven’t played HZD, it is as polished a game as you can get. Maneater is the total opposite and for that reason, I really enjoyed my time with it. I’d call it a palate cleanser where I spent 10 hours or so mindlessly eating stuff, causing as much mayhem as possible and having a blast.
- A simple game to pick up and play.
- You play as a shark and get to eat people. What more do you want?
- It takes 10 to 12 hours to get the platinum trophy.
The Bad and the Ugly
- Not particularly good graphics for a current generation game.
- Dull gameplay with little variety.
Maneater is the epitome of a “switch your brain off” kind of game, where you don’t have to think much about what you are doing. Hand on heart did I enjoy Maneater? Yes, I did. Is it a great game? Not particularly, but then variety is the spice of life as they say. If you’re into trophy hunting and fancy a relatively easy platinum, then you could do much worse than playing Maneater.
Review by Chris.