Battleship Xbox 360 Review

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The summer blockbuster movies are trickling into cinemas now, so that means the video game industry is about to launch their wave of movie license products based on these movies. It’s near enough common knowledge that most video games based on these films normally end up being mediocre or terrible. Battleship, which is a first-person shooter based on the film (which is loosely based on the board game – confusing!) that stars Liam Neeson and popstar Rihanna, is no different. Double Helix Games – the guys that brought you Front Mission Evolved and Silent Hill: Homecoming – have put some good ideas into Battleship,  but they’re badly implemented and the game ultimately doesn’t hold up to the standard for first-person shooters.

I’ve not seen the film, but Activision state that the game is aimed as a stand-alone story, meaning you don’t get to meet virtual representations of Liam Neeson and the rest of the film cast. The story has you playing as Cole Mathis, an elite demolitions specialist who is trying to fend off the extraterrestrial beings invading the Hawaiian archipelago. The whole plot is so forgettable and basic that the only detail I can remember is killing aliens over and over again.

At first glance, I had some hope for Battleship. Alien carrier ships – that look somewhat similar to the ones you might see in the Halo series – arrive and drop off squads to fight against you. I was thinking, “This could be a clone of Halo? Might not be too bad then.” No. It’s much worse than that because this game is extremely linear, to the point where it’s impossible to get lost. The game is set on a huge island, but it seems such a waste for it to be this linear.

Battleship just isn’t any fun to play. The mission structure follows a pattern that goes something like move here, shoot some aliens, move there, and do it all again. It wouldn’t be so bad if what you were doing was interesting, but you are mostly moving from one point to another to plant a bomb, defend a point, or aim artillery strikes at buildings. Enemies are mindless clones that have simple A.I. Honestly, they just stand and shoot at you, and when they do move they will either run at you or run backwards in a very awkward animation that looks awful and gives the game the appearance of having a low budget. All of Battleship is mediocre in regards to to gun combat and level design.

Trying to bring the game up from the depths of ordinary, Double Helix has implemented a strategy aspect by allowing the player to take control of the warships positioned around the islands. Pressing LB during play brings up a grid-based communication map that allows you to move ships. During this phase, your objective is to erase alien ships and take over highlighted strategic points on the map, allowing battleships to supply your character on the island with artillery and missile support. If you let the opposition gain the support grid, the alien ships will launch pegs towards your location, killing you in one hit if you stay in their range when they explode.  On paper, this sounds brilliant, yet it actually plagues the game with an uneven pace of play between the first-person gameplay and ship control mechanics. Annoying loading times crop up every time you move to and from the grid back to first-person view.

Power ups are dropped from killed enemies and can be equipped to ships. These can upgrade defence and damage, repair ships, and even let you take control of a unit in battle for 20 seconds. While you are in control of the ship, you only aim the weaponry and all you need to do is spam all of your buttons to shoot. Initially it’s fun, but after a while the magic wears off when you understand all you do is aim – which is pointless because it is virtually impossible to miss unless you try – and mash the buttons.

Presentation leaves much to be desired. There are no characters to care for, the plot is non-existent, and the alien character designs could be mistaken for humans if their faces didn’t show once you blast off their helmets. Weapons don’t have much variety either with assault rifles, alien mini-guns, energy sniper rifles, shotguns, grenades and pistols completing the arsenal round up. Graphically, the game isn’t doing much; it looks bland, and only the water looks decent enough to look like a game that’s come out in 2012.

Battleship is just another below-par movie license video game. It features an extremely short campaign that you can blast through in an evening and no multiplayer or incentives to replay once you’ve finished the game. It isn’t worth the full retail asking price for the sheer fact that none of the gameplay is exciting or good. In short, the game is basic, boring, uninspiring and not entertaining. Battleship should be left to sink in the cluttered first-person shooter market.

4/10

by

Version tested: Xbox 360

Also available on: PS3, Wii, 3DS, DS

Developer: Double Helix Games

Publisher: Activision

Genre: First-Person Shooter, Strategy