The Turtle's already halfway submerged.
Fan Mission Review by Eric D'Avignon (Anarchic Fox)
Mission Name: The Turtle On Its Back
No. Times Played: 3
Once again you have found yourself stowed away in a Mechanist submarine, named 'The Turtle'. This time, however, something has gone wrong - The Turtle has flipped over and is quickly being flooded with water. Get out before it is completely submerged.
This mission starts out excellently, with Garrett stumbling into one of the Turtle's flooded rooms while a malfunctioning alarm system sounds in the background. You get to see much of the standard Mechanist decor turned wrong side up - besides the usual furniture there are such interesting items as a dizzily spinning turret and a variety of mines scattered in the water. This neat setting is the strongest aspect of The Turtle on its Back - unfortunately, the mission does not excel in any other regard. Nothing actually looks bad, but the vessel does start to seem dull very fast. The story is almost nonexistent (though this isn't a major flaw considering that it is a contest mission). Finally, the majority of the mission is a somewhat tedious underwater swim.
The Turtle has four decks; the lowest two of them are completely submerged (with the exception of one room), and the majority of the gameplay takes place in that underwater area. There is only one pocket of air between the above-water decks and the outside; as a result, you will find it very difficult to explore all of the rooms and grab all of the loot. To add to this difficulty, there are two crossbow-wielding divers; evading them will require equal parts careful timing and sheer luck. You can also take them out with mines, which can somehow detonate underwater. Swimming comprises the major part of the level; don't play this level if you are likely to be frustrated by repeated drownings.
Story: 3 -- There is no story beyond what is contained in the readme file. This isn't such a bad thing for a contest mission, but a lot of stuff that should be explained, falls by the wayside - such as the reason for Garrett's presence in the Turtle, the purpose behind the craft, and so forth.
Atmosphere: 6 -- This mission gives a great first impression, and the many small details of the level add quite a bit to the experience... some very startling moments are also possible in the underwater sections. The feel and novelty, so to speak, of the setting are the strongest aspects of The Turtle on its Back.
Gameplay: 5 -- Exploration is fun; there's a fair amount of loot, evenly dispersed through the level. There is a little sneaking, but this is far more of an exploration mission. Note that the underwater sections have the potential to be very frustrating.
Architecture: 5 -- Everything tends to be a bit plain, and the interesting and compact layout of Precious Cargo's submarine is not fully reflected in the Turtle's design. It also doesn't manage to give the impression of an actual vessel. Making everything upside down (and often collapsed) was well-conceived and well-executed, with no inconsistencies that I could find.
Preliminary Reviewer's Score: 4.75
Bonus: +0.5 for the novel, almost unprecedented, and generally well-constructed setting.
Reviewer's Score: 5.25