Republished on Wednesday 30th December, 2020: We’re bringing this review back from the archives following the announcement of January 2021’s PS Plus lineup. The original text follows.
One of a number of free next-gen upgrade titles being offered on Sony’s newest hardware, developer Tripwire has returned to its undersea all you can eat buffet, and brought a few new bells and whistles with it. Maneater now runs at 60 frames-per-second and with a native 4K resolution, though honestly these changes are rather minor. Though the marquee addition of ray-tracing isn’t actually yet implemented, the lighting and shadowing in the game look vastly improved. Spending time in the water in this title is downright stunning. The light filtering through wavering water looks breath-taking, and is by far the most impressive graphical feature of the title. Pair this with newly implemented HDR, and the vibrant colors of the sea have never looked so inviting. Just watch out for sharks.
It is, however, rather disappointing, that the game doesn’t take advantage of this new technological leap to smooth out performance. Anytime the screen gets too busy – especially when you’re being hunted by the game’s Grand Theft Auto-style wanted level system – the framerate nosedives. It’s especially problematic as you increase your shark’s speed. You eventually start moving faster than the load-in times for areas of the map. This creates a cascading effect where the frame rate gets progressively worse and worse, unless you stop and let the title catch up. The most disappointing thing, however, is that Tripwire hasn’t used the PS5 upgrade as an excuse to overhaul the camera. It’s still a little finicky, and it’s especially frustrating to use during combat. A lock-on system would have been most welcome.
Ultimately, though, the volume of changes are rather small. Apart from some performance enhancements, the game remains almost identical to its last-gen counterpart. Making this a free upgrade was absolutely the right call. There’s not really enough to move the needle in any meaningful direction regarding changes. The same combat, level progression, tone, and soundtrack all offer up the same thrilling experience that was available last-gen. The new features are welcome, and the game definitely looks nicer, but apart from that, it’s the same experience. If you had your fill of the title on the PS4, there’s not a whole lot to come back for. However, if you’re just diving into the game now, this is the version you want.