Review - Battleship

Posted on May 30, 2012 - 7:12pm

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F*ck It

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Battleship is a game that tries very hard to be more than it really is. What it wants to be is a new age first person shooter like Call of Duty or Battlefield. In reality it is an ugly, clunky shooter that feels like it should have released on the last generation of consoles. A cadre of technical errors, AI mishaps, and other faults sinks any possibility this game ever had of being fun right from the start. There are next to no redeeming qualities about this game and anytime an aspect of the game starts to become interesting or worthwhile it immediately attempts to sabotage its own success.

Every environment in Battleship feels exactly the same. Most levels involve starting on a beach, climbing a tropical island, and reaching something at the top that needs to be blown up or re-purposed. The journey from point to point is often bland with only a few scattered plants and a couple of conveniently toppled structures to use for cover. The player's only companion through this uninspired landscape is the woman who constantly badgers players over the radio. Every two feet she has something else to say about what the player should be doing and how he or she should do it. Honestly, putting the game on mute takes away very little from the overall experience.

Where Battleship aims to set itself apart from other shooters is through the addition of a naval command mini game. For whatever reason, the main character (who starts the game as a simple demolitions expert) is put in charge of commanding a fleet of ships, and it is his job to use the fleet to eradicate all the alien ships. At any point during a mission players can tap a button to open up a grid that shows their ships, the enemy's ships, and a general layout of the island and the water surrounding it. Players can use the grid to direct their ships to move to certain locations or go after enemy ships; there are even areas on the map that players can park ships in order to use them to bombard enemies on land. In addition, players also pick up tokens from aliens they kill that can be used to increase a ship's damage and armor, or provide a number of different bonuses including one that allows the player to take direct control of the ships' guns to fire on enemy ships. Initially the mini game is actually fun. It serves an important role of breaking up the monotony of murdering wave after wave of mindless foes. Early on it acts almost as a reward: players eliminate hordes of generic bad guys and then rush around picking up all the ship upgrades so they can strengthen their fleet. However, as the game progresses it begins to lean more and more heavily on this mechanic and in doing so destroys the fun of it. Later levels require the player to continuously open and close the mini game as enemy ships start appearing out of thin air. While that sounds innocent enough, each time the player interacts with the mini game he or she must wait for a character to bring out a little computer, open it, boot up the command program, power down the computer and put it away. In the beginning of the game the wait isn't so bad because the player only needs to open it once or twice per stage. By the end  players are constantly opening and closing it, oftentimes only to throw out a ship upgrade they can't use to pick up one they can. Thus the naval command mini game goes from being by far the most enjoyable aspect of Battleship to being an incredibly obnoxious test of patience.

In all other regards Battleship is yet another generic first person shooter—everything from enemies to armaments are so boring it's as if the game wants to be forgotten. Throughout the course of the game players can expect to encounter a grand total of three different enemy types: generic alien with a machine gun, generic alien with a rail gun, and slightly taller alien that runs at you and tries to punch you to death. That's it. Throughout Battleship's seven stages players are forced into mindless fire fight after mindless fire fight with one of these three types of enemies. There are no real bosses or special aliens and the game cannot seem to handle having more than eight or nine enemies on screen all at the same time, so scuffles usually result in players killing all nine enemies and waiting for a drop ship to swoop in with nine more. The relative ease of the game is only made worse by the fact that enemies are so dumb that they practically kill themselves. They will take cover on the wrong side of objects or just run up and stand in the wide open, mere feet from the player's position. The game attempts to counteract how simple-minded its foes are with equally ignorant friendly soldiers. Computer-controlled soldiers, in the few stages that contain them, will often let enemies walk right by them or even stand next to them without ever firing at them. More often than not, they will stand out in the open until one of the aliens is lucky enough to hit them, at which time they'll promptly die. It is also worth noting that whereas enemies come in a total of three types, friendly soldiers come in just one type; they all use the same weapon and the only thing they ever seem to do is die.

Complementing the lackluster enemy selection is an equally limited selection of weapons. There are literally four guns total in the game: generic assault rifle, generic shotgun, enemy chain gun, and enemy railgun. The game makes it exceptionally clear when players should be picking up one type of gun or another by leaving six copies of the gun laying around right where the player has to walk. Little to no effort is spent on how the guns look or sound, making them that much more forgettable. The pitiful selection of run-of-the-mill weaponry only serves to make an already boring game feel even more bland.

To top it all off Battleship contains no multiplayer modes. If there is one characteristic that truly makes this game feel like a last generation title, that is it. All first person shooter titles this generation seem to have some form of multiplayer content to keep players coming back, but Battleship completely disregards it. There isn't even a tacked on death match or cooperative mode. Developers couldn't even find time to put in a leaderboard system so players could at least see how much better they are at this game than the four other people playing it. The only attempt that Battleship makes to drive players back through the storyline again is a series of collectable pegs. Each stage has a number of pegs hidden within it that players can collect to unlock concept art from the game's creation. The art includes concept designs for stages that never even made it into the game, all of which look far better and more unique than any stage that actually did make it in. This only makes collecting the pegs even more painful as each new one seems to reveal that there was at one time a good idea behind each element of the game that was slowly buried under poor execution.

Battleship takes the role of a shoddy movie tie-in game to a new low. In a console generation already overflowing with first person shooters, Battleship actively tries not to standout. Any semblance of fun is quickly butchered by the game's laundry list of faults to the point that the game is barely playable. With the lack of any sort of multiplayer modes or strong reason to dive back into the campaign paired with an asking price of sixty dollars, this game is a joke. One better left untold, slowly sinking into the depths of obscurity.

2 / 10

(2s are a mess. It's riddled with poor gameplay, design choices and/or numerous bugs. Whatever enjoyment it has most likely is not worth the pain you'd go through.)


Austin Smith is a gamer with a love for all things Bioware. Austin loves table top board games along with good old fashion pen and paper RPGs. He is equal parts lover and fighter but above all he is a sender of fell beasts BACK TO THE PITS THAT SPAWNED THEM.

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