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Games I Own: The Ship

Posted on 28th Apr 2010 at 14:26 by Joe Martin with 13 comments

Joe Martin
The Ship is, I think, one of the greatest examples of how a great idea doesn’t always make a good game. Of all the games I’ve ever bought (and this is a game I spent a long, long time umming and erring over before I purchased), The Ship is possibly the game I’ve played the least.

The problem, I think, isn’t the game itself though – it’s the players. In all of the few matches I’ve played of The Ship it’s been the players that have broken it, not the game itself.

The Ship is a multiplayer murder simulator based on a cruise liner run by a mad man, who has involved all passengers in a game of death. Everyone onboard has been given a target that they have to assassinate and matches involve you trying to hunt down that one single person and take them out, at the same time avoiding your own would-be assassin. You’ve also got to contend with the security systems on the ship too – you have to dodge guards, scavenge weapons where you can and commit your crimes away from the prying glass eyes of the CCTV cameras.

Games I Own: The Ship

The problem is that, while the concept makes it sound like The Ship is a slow, tense game that could breed some gloriously intricate behaviours (alliance and betrayals, anyone?), the reality is that most people don’t like to play like that. People like something a bit more immediate, so what should feel like a multi-murder mystery feels more like a deathmatch where you can only kill people in certain corridors.

It doesn’t help that the game has a touch too much depth layered into it either. Money is great when you have it because you can bribe guards and buy guns, but accumulating that wealth is tiresome when you really just want to be killing.

Disguises are perhaps the most game-breaking mechanic though, as changing your appearance regularly is an important tool in staying alive. The ship is supposedly filled with strangers and all players are only given a name, not a photo, so you have to discover the names of other players by getting close to them. What inevitably happens then is that you wander up to a player you don’t know and you find out each other’s names. Then, if he’s your target then you kill him. If you are his, he kills you. If neither of you are targets then maybe he kills you anyway. Combat is brief as it is, but it also becomes predictable.

Games I Own: The Ship

In a way, The Ship reminds me of Kane and Lynch’s multiplayer mode, Fragile Alliance – where one team of convicts squared off against guards and each other to grab the largest amount of loot. It sounded brilliant and promised much, but in reality most games boiled down to the same tactics.

Really though, it isn’t the player’s fault for acting like that – the developers should have predicted as much. Players always try to break every system they come across. It’s just something we do and, if you don’t believe me, I suggest you think back to the last time you played something like Half-Life 2. If you managed to sit through the opening scenes in Kliener’s lab without playing with the hula girl, making Gordon jump around on the spot or climb on desks then I’d be massively surprised.

Number of Times Completed: Never.

Random Trivia: The Ship was developed by Outerlight Studios, who I once talked into doing some writing for the site. Nice of them, wasn’t it?

13 Comments

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Krikkit 28th April 2010, 15:55 Quote
Quote:
It’s just something we do and, if you don’t believe me, I suggest you think back to the last time you played something like Half-Life 2. If you managed to sit through the opening scenes in Kliener’s lab without playing with the hula girl, making Gordon jump around on the spot or climb on desks then I’d be massively surprised.
:) So very true. Playing with the teleport machine, generally bunnyhopping like a CS player and smashing the place up is what it's all about.

I was fascinated by this game for a long time - it'd be great with some dedicated LAN players.
steveo_mcg 28th April 2010, 16:01 Quote
I really enjoyed the off line version of the ship since the computer played properly but yeah on line was pap and off line was too easy after the first couple of hours. Shame really could have been a excellent antidote to over stimulated fps players.
MajorTom 28th April 2010, 16:38 Quote
I bought this game on release and only played a couple of on-line matches. Perhaps if they had made it so that you only had one shot, one chance to kill someone?

There aren't many multiplayer games that tackle this kind of gameplay but I've got my eye on SpyParty http://spyparty.com/
mi1ez 28th April 2010, 16:38 Quote
That guy in the first picture looks a little TOO much like George W...
NuTech 28th April 2010, 16:55 Quote
The Ship is the ultimate example of a multiplayer game that elevates to greatness and outclasses every one of its peers when played with the right people.

This game came out when I was in Uni. A bunch of guys on my course all bought it and played the **** out of it for a couple months. Fun times.

You can always argue that any multiplayer game is great with the right people, but for me The Ship will ways be special. :)

In the same vein (although far more family friendly) is Disney's Guilty Party. The multiplayer looks fun with great use of the Wii's controls. Looks like a must have for when I'm babysitting my nephew. ;)
Omnituens 29th April 2010, 01:04 Quote
I was playing this at 4 in the morning at a lan.

Nothing messes you up more than suddenly turning round and seeing an abe lincon lookalike chasing you down a hallway with a fire axe.

Good times.
Yslen 29th April 2010, 04:36 Quote
The first time I played HL2 I made myself play it as it was obivously intended - standing still and listening attentively and following the characters around. It was wonderfully immersive. From the second playthrough onward though, I joined the countless thousands trying to knock over all of Kleiner's PCs.

As NuTech says above, there are some games that are terrible when played with the wrong people, and incredible when played with the right people. It's all about the other players' attitudes to the game; one of the many reason you'll never find me playing the latest console FPS online...
humdrumian_monkey 29th April 2010, 12:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mi1ez
That guy in the first picture looks a little TOO much like George W...

he REALLY does!
Cupboard 29th April 2010, 19:25 Quote
If you can just kill people anyway, can't you just go on a rampage and kill everyone in sight?
sWW 29th April 2010, 20:18 Quote
I bought this game a while back and have barely touched it. I imagine if I was playing with a bunch of mates it would be more fun however the problems discussed in the article ruin the game for public play.
CardJoe 30th April 2010, 08:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cupboard
If you can just kill people anyway, can't you just go on a rampage and kill everyone in sight?

Only if you want a negative score.
steveo_mcg 1st May 2010, 12:08 Quote
I wonder if we could organise a game between the bit folk there should be enough of us to have an evening of the game played properly. No?
Farfalho 3rd May 2010, 14:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mi1ez
That guy in the first picture looks a little TOO much like George W...

I think this is the Bush previously to the ear surgery because I think that were his original ears, arse-like ears xD
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