Creating a game to tie-in with a movie has to be a frustrating and stressful process. You are basically given a deadline when it has to be complete to coincide with the movie premiere and they want you to spin gold. Battle: Los Angeles is a prime example of this mentality. The game is excruciatingly short and offers up very little variety to keep the player entertained. This is sad, mostly due to the fact that, while playing it, you can feel what could have been. The graphics are great and the mechanics are solid. Sadly, the deadline seems to be the culprit in this disappointing XBLA endeavor.
The campaign is the only mode in the game and it mimics the movie plot almost to the letter. Now, I am not a story writer, but this paper-thin plot is really not going to change the dynamic of storytelling. The game uses comic book panels with word bubbles to progress the story. In actuality, this is one of the most entertaining parts of the game. Not because it is well done, but because the dialogue is so bad at times that it is unintentionally hilarious. None of the main characters offer attachment and, to be honest, I forgot who I was playing as or with less than one level into the game.
And that is it. The campaign is the only mode. Sure there are three difficulty settings, all of which are beatable by any seasoned FPS gamer. There are unlockables for each difficulty, but none of them scream replay by any means. This wouldn’t be as much of an issue if the main game actually offered some variety, but this literally feels like the prologue to a much bigger game. Every encounter in the game results in the same action. Take some cover, poke out and take down the aliens. Enemies never deviate in tactics and there are literally three types of enemies in the game; aliens, aliens on mobile turrets and alien ships.
If that wasn’t enough, there are also only three weapons in the game: your assault rifle, a sniper rifle and a rocket launcher that doesn’t show up until the end of the game and sparingly at that. There are ammo boxes aplenty, so you are never concerned with running out of ammo, and while enemies take a beating with your assault rifle, learning the headshot will take down all of them in one fell swoop. The game lacks any sort of strategy whatsoever, and ends up being a mundane shooting gallery even before it reaches it short conclusion.
If there is one bright spot in all of this, it is the visuals. This game does look nice throughout. This is why I can tell that the developers did all they could with the time they had. This game looks great for a downloadable title. The entire game takes place in a war-torn Los Angeles, and the fire, explosions and rubble all drive the point home. The game really does a nice job of showcasing the destruction of the invasion; and it all runs at a solid clip the entire time. The sound, on the other hand, is hit and miss. Effects sound great running in surround sound. The music, however, is all but forgettable and the voice acting is downright terrible at times.
Battle: Los Angeles is an unfortunate victim of movie tie-in deadlines. Saber Interactive should be commended for what they accomplished with such a short production schedule, but at the same time it is hard to recommend dropping ten bucks on anything that lasts less time than the actual move it is based on. The game has a solid engine and promise, but there is not enough content to warrant suggesting a purchase.
Review copy provided by publisher.