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Battleship (Xbox 360) Review

Activision unleashes it’s latest shooter.  Despite the sea based action there’s not a COD insight…

We’ll leave the slowly sinking movie to one side and deal with Battleship the video game on its own merits.   Here we have a video game, based on a movie, which in turn is based on a board game that was based on a paper based time-killer.  Want to add layers to that?  How about making it a Halo inspired FPS that also incorporates a strategy light turn-based naval war game.  More layers?  Well sure, how about this being developed by a studio that previously gave us Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters and GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra… oh and they sprang out the merger between Shiny, The Collective and Foundation 9.

So how can developer Double Helix Games distil all this in to something cohesive and not just another move tie-in?  Sadly, they can’t, despite some reasonable attempts at bringing some new ideas to play.

You play as a reasonably shallow and personality free explosive disposal engineer.   You’re happily going about your daily job of clearing a Hawaiian archipelagos when a sudden alien invasion spoils your quest for a tan and hula dancers.

Over the course of the games seven chapters you trudge for waypoint to waypoint taking on varying missions on the ground that, for the most part, seems to involve you blowing up am early warning system that is jamming “something”.

Shooting is pretty much mindless and robs from pretty much every recent reasonable shooter.  It looks like a quick and dirty mix of Dead Island and Halo, with a reasonable frame rate.  The environments are fairly sparse and character models are as generic as possible.  The whole look and feel appears borrowed and budgeted for – this was made to appeal to a wide demographic of gamers and looks like an average shooter from the bad old days of the early Xbox 360 launch titles.

Audio wise things are fairly sparse.  Some musical elements here and there coupled with reasonable gun and environment sounds make this squarely workman like.  Voice acting is kept to radio chatter and mission updates but is reasonable if a little uninspiring.

The strategy element of the game sees you switching in real-time to a grid-based map of the islands where you command your sleet to take waypoints and provide cover for your island based exploits.  This is reasonably well implemented and offers up a nice distraction from the mediocre shooting.  Whilst on the battlefield enemies will drop power-ups that you can then use to upgrade your ships during this round.  Like I say, this is a nice alternative and based on the recent Black Ops 2 announcement, serves as a test bed for something that could easily carry over in to other titles with a little further development.

Longevity is seriously lacking.  With the game on Normal I completed my play through in little over 3 and a half hours.  There are some “pegs” to collect in each level which offer up some exploration (although levels are woefully linear and offer little to explore) and this unlock galleries in the game.  None of this is really worthwhile unless you truly are bored.

The largest head scratcher here is the exclusion of any multiplayer at all.  Sure games like COD are around 4 or so hours in the campaign but they have a massive multiplayer to back that up.  Battleship has nothing.  You’d have thought they might just give you an implementation of the board game for multiplayer – not even that!


Final thoughts

Battleship the video game is solidly average in almost every department.  It doesn’t feel necessarily rushed or lazy in its creation.  In fact it feels measured in its low levels of aspiration.  It does just enough to add a few little twists to the genre and bring in a tenuous link to the Battleship board game.

The lack of any multiplayer and a playtime that fits in to a single afternoon relegates this title to a renter in my opinion.  There may not have been particularly high hopes for this title, it’s just a shame that the designers were also of that opinion.  A handful of small bugs (like when one gun runs out of ammo switching to the other still renders it with no ammo even though it shows 100 bullets on screen!) also don’t help the games’ cause.

So, a completely average shooter, too short and lacking in solid asperations.  The little nuances the title introduces to the genre have interesting “legs” for future titles and I can see where the overhead control ideas came from for Black Ops 2.  It’s by no means your usual cash-in title and Double Helix can be commended for that.

If you simply MUST have a shooter then please, for your own sake, rent this title unless you plan on playing it through around five times to get your money back.







About Zeth

Zeth is our EU Senior Editor and has been writing about video games since he joined BG back in 2008. He's pretty old and has been a gamer since he played Space Invaders as a young boy in the 80's. His genre tastes lean towards platformers, point-and-click adventure, action-adventure and shooters but he'll turn his hand to anything.

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