I am tired of World War II games! Yes, I said it! I mean really, at this point I feel like I could sit down and take a test on WWII and pass with flying colors. Each and every game that has come out as of late has showed a different part of the war, not only that most of them have showed the same parts. I used to ask this question to customers when I worked at EB Games, “How many times can you storm the beaches of Normandy?” No one has ever really given me an answer. So if you are madly in love with the WWII games please email me and tell me how you justify playing the same missions over and over again. Ok, well now that I have gotten that out of my system, let’s talk about Battlestations: Midway.
Battlestations: Midway is set in the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II. In the single-player campaign, you play as young Navy recruits Henry Walker, who shows up at Pearl Harbor just in time for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Between battles, you’ll see beautifully rendered cut scenes intended to develop a story about Henry Walker’s rise through the ranks to eventually become the captain of the massive aircraft carrier known as the USS Yorktown. The dialogue in the story is almost comically bad at times, but the characters do a decent job of personalizing the battles, and it’s cool to see your recruit go from cruising around a harbor in a little gun boat to commanding fleets of ships out on the open sea.
There are about 12 missions in the single-player campaign, and even though a few of those missions can easily take about an hour to complete, you can pretty much finish the campaign in four or five hours. There are also 10 extra challenge missions focusing on specific types of units from both the Japan and US forces, but the challenge missions aren’t as exciting as the larger story battles. Despite these bonus missions and the inclusion of a very good online multiplayer game, it’s disappointing that the single-player campaign is so short.
At first glance you might mistake this for the WWII edition of the famous Milton-Bradley game Battleship! Even though it is true that most of this game takes place out at sea, the battleships and gunboats only make up a small portion of the controllable units. You will also get to control airplanes, bombers, and submarines. As you get promoted in rank, you will unlock better vehicles and gain command of bigger squads. As you play in a mission you will be commanding all your different units from the map screen. The interesting thing is that at any given time you can take control of any unit you may have on the field. Feel like dropping bombs, take control of the bomber, and so forth and so on.
The controls in this game is very simplified, especially with all of the jumping back and forth you will do. The only hiccup that I experienced was by default the game puts throttle control on the left stick, and movement control on the right. This works out fins while you are controlling a boat, but once you are airborne it gets really difficult to adjust to the new controls. Another thing about the aircraft controls is if you’re like me and invert your controls when you play airplane games don’t fret you can do this in Battlestations:, the problem is when you want to go back to controlling a boat if you don’t want the controls inverted then you must go to the pause menu and turn it off. This can get very tedious especially when you are involved a large scale battle where you are jumping from unit to unit.
Beyond making bombing runs and sinking ships you will find airbases, shipyards, and aircraft bases. So as your ships get destroyed, and your planes turn into debris you will need to order more to take their places. You will normally get to choose what type of unit you need, as well as what you want to arm it with. The only time you won’t, is when you have to have a dive bomber, or other special units. The developers did a good job of balancing the units in this game. You won’t find that one uber unit that can destroy everything; each vehicle has its nemesis.
Subs can be destroyed by depth charges; Planes can be shot down by AA Guns, etc. Before your units end up at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean you can order repairs be done on them. At first glance the repairs system is very confusing, so to help you out with this the developers included an in depth tutorial. If you are going to use it be prepared to sit through the endless lectures of an old war dog general for about an hour. That’s right folks, the tutorial takes about an hour to get through. Trust me though; it will help you out in the look run, especially if you actually want to finish the game.
The last thing is the Multiplayer that is included in the game. Currently there is only nine maps to reenact your favorite moments from WWII, but like every other game (or at least it should be) there will be content downloads for this one. Most of the maps that you get to play on you will have already played in the Single-Player campaign. Battlestations: allows for up to 8 people to play out there old war fantasies. Each player can control a specific fleet, squadron, or unit. All the maps are team based no death match here. So because of that communication with your team is the key to achieve victory. The only real problem you will run into in the multiplayer is that even though the units are balanced, the maps are anything but. You will often find that a few of your teammates start with less than favorable odds. In this instance you can either restart, or just make sure you reinforce your partners starting base.
The graphics in this game are surprisingly good. I say that because this game was originally planned for the Xbox way back when, and even though we all hope that the developers don’t just put a sheen of gloss on the graphics and ship it sadly a lot of them do-*cough* EA *cough* You will notice as you zoom in on your ship that you can actually see your crew walking around on the deck. I thought that was a very nice touch. Occasionally you will see some graphical hiccups. For instance the land will look very flat, and you will notice a lot of graphical pop ups. All in all though the graphics are very good, and fit the game nicely.
As I said in the beginning I am tired of WWII games, but I really enjoyed Battlestations: Midway! The strategy/action of this one is not to be missed. Even if you are like me on the WWII train pick this one up. It may make you change your mind for a few hours.