I feel sorry for games like Battleship. It literally had no chance right out of the gate. This is a game, based on a movie, based on a board game where you guess pegs on a board. What can you possibly do to try and bring that to a blockbuster FPS, or better yet, a Hollywood action movie? Universal has done it, though, and even had the game published by Activision. Yet, somehow, I still find myself shocked at the low-level of quality on display here. Battleship is truly one of the worst licensed games I have played in a while.
If you have seen the movie (sorry I still cringe at the thought) then you will know the basic premise. You are a soldier, aliens are invading and you are tasked with kicking some extraterrestrial butt. Literally the first line in the game involves the phrase ’Master Chief’, which I know is a standard military term, but come on. From here you dive through seven boring missions with little variety outside of some nighttime levels and a jacked up set of mini games. Yeah the movie’s plot is paper-thin, but some decent progression here would have been appreciated.
Instead this game feels like a 5-7 hour chore that you don’t want to do. The shooting mechanics are passable, but never interesting. There are only three main enemy types. Yes, you read that right. The levels are also bland and poorly constructed, not to mention that you cycle back through some of them over again with basically the same objectives. The only difference the second time around is the time of day. This game screams, “rushed effort” from the large-font menus to the PSOne-quality CGI cut scenes. I feel for developer Double Helix. It is readily apparent that this game was not given even close to a full development cycle.
If you played Battle for L.A. on XBLA, first off I am sorry, secondly that was the vibe I was getting the entire time I played this game. It is a first-person shooter at its core, but Double Helix worked in the idea of Battleship by allowing players to bring up a grid-based map of the area, and control your fleet. From here, you can use wild cards (which you obtain while shooting aliens) to partake in ship combat. Amazingly this teleports your ship to wherever the enemies are so you can launch torpedoes at them at peculiar angles and fire cannons. It is a nice break from the action, but hardly exciting.
The actual shooting is mechanically sound, but ultimately mundane. As I mentioned there are only three enemy types, and after a while it gets tiresome mowing them down. It also doesn’t help that the AI in the game is borderline brain-dead. Enemies will crouch for a second or simply stand and let you shoot them. The lack of weapons is also a buzzkill, leaving you with a few alien firearms and your standard FPS fare, albeit limited. The game consistently feels like it was thrown together in three months, and the developers were simply padding content wherever they could.
Visually, the game is a mess. The three alien models are not even remotely interesting, and ships clip through the environment constantly. The levels are all familiar, which is to be expected I suppose, but even their design is rudimentary. The menus are poorly designed, the CGI cut scenes are reminiscent of PSOne days with awful resolution and frame rate. It is really sad to see a game struggle so much with the basics. The voice acting is equally terrible with music simply feeling ’there’. Battleship is a mess on ever level.
There are only seven missions in the campaign, and you revisit three of them, so variety is shot. Amazingly, that is it. There is no forced multiplayer thrown in, or even a split screen option for a lame co-op endeavor. You get these seven missions, none of which are very fun, and this is still sitting at $60. I cannot imagine who this appeals to. The movie might be stupid fun, but the game is simply not. It is an exercise in poor design and rushed efforts. I don’t blame Double Helix; I am sure they did the best they could with the time and resources they had, but this game is simply not worth the money by far. It might have passed off as a solid rental for fans, or even a stupid impulse shooter for a cheaper price. But for $60, Battleship is better left sunk into oblivion.
Review copy of game provided by publisher. Primary play on Xbox 360.