Battleship, the video game from Activision on the Xbox 360 is a console game tie in to the recently released sci-fi movie – and nothing like what you might think it is at first … the old school board game which had ships and pegs; whilst it does feature some great ships, there’s not a peg in sight (thankfully). It focuses on two elements, a Navy battle at sea in which you must carefully select your ships and ready them up for war, and also a first person shooter that looks closely a little Call of Duty-esque in both its design and gameplay.
The overall story to Battleship the video game, unfolds as a campaign spread across the seas and land as Earth fights for survival against a superior force. You take on the role of Cole Mathis, a U.S. naval fleet’s “Boots on the Ground,” who must prove himself worthy as an elite soldier and help defeat the enemy. While participating in training exercises in the Hawaiian archipelago, you and your unit are caught in a weather dome generated by a superior force, and so a plan of attack begins. As an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician, Mathis primary objective is to render safe all types of ordnance, both conventional and unconventional explosive devices as well as making sure that all weapons of mass destruction are identified, rendered safe or destroyed. Throughout all of the games campaign chapter’s you will find yourself having to reach target areas to render safe explosives, take down enemy shields, cut off Jamming array’s that disrupts communication and safe guard large areas of Hawaiian landscape from aliens in the form of firefights. Furthermore, adding a unique twist which is uncommon to most first-person-shooters a constant strategic approach to commanding your Battleships lingers in the back of your mind as an on-screen ship damage meter is permanently on display in the corner.
Sometimes from out of nowhere your Battleships protecting the seas of around the Hawaiian group of islands will face attack from enemy alien ships and it is your duty to solely protect them. In cutting short your FPS gameplay you enter a new command control screen where you determine the placement of your ships and how to attack. The use of Wild Cards collected from the FPS campaign will add extra security to your ships in offering increased damage to your weapons and repair functions for better survival in ship to ship combat. Once you have made your commands and exited the screen, the ship to ship battle will commence and in the FPS view you will see it happen from the outer areas of the landscape. Because you are almost always near the outer edges of the islands, the ships in the distance that you take control of via the command control screen are always visible if you choose to take a look in the direction of the seas. One Ship Control Wild Card will allow you to take control of the Battleship yourself for 20 seconds and you get to choose how to attack by using the control buttons to shoot your weapons. Unfortunately it’s very unexciting as you have a small variation of rockets and guns to launch and aim, and despite some ships being different in size – all ship to ship battles pretty much look and play the same. This Wild Card will allow you to take down an enemy ship quicker than if leaving the ships to their own attacking device’s which does come in handy if you are heavily surrounded. So, although the Ship Control Wild Card is unexciting and rather a plain approach to attacking, it does at least have a purpose.
Thankfully the best parts of the game are the first person shooter campaign chapters – not only for looking like a Call of Duty and Halo rehash, but it’s a rather enjoyable albeit a short experience with unfortunately no multiplayer whatsoever – this game is a single player campaign only. I could express my upset in the most dramatic depiction that there is no co-operative modes or multiplayer maps to freely roam around with one side being the Navy and the other side being the Aliens – but it’s no use, multiplayer on a game that resembles Call of Duty and Halo rehashed together could have been spectacular, but was clearly never meant to be. Such a loss for this game!
As a first person shooter, it’s a no brainer that you know you have to shoot and run through plenty of territory. Although human weapons such as Rifles and Shotguns are supplied to you at the start of each chapter you do get to pick up and use a variety of alien weaponry too which represent a form of sniper rifle and shotgun known as RailGun’s and Kraw’s. Controlling the game is very simple as in making an assumption that many of us have played Call of Duty before, using your weapons and grenades is done in the exact same way. To protect yourself from incoming bullets you can use cover, run and even equip Mathis with weapon supplies found lying around the islands.
There are seven chapters to Battleship the video game in total and each is heavily action packed, also laden with Alien enemies as you travel through large Hawaiian landscapes by the shore through day, noon and night time environments. It is a very linear story with little room for exploration and each chapter seems to have you follow the objective of making an area safe, then a little defending with a firefight scenario as incoming aliens swoop down from the skies, followed by more survival efforts, running to your objectives as you try planting C4 explosives or destroying devices – and then even bigger, tougher firefights to bring each chapter to a close. You encounter on your journey three different types of enemy, an Alien Soldier with protective body armour that generally swarm at you in large numbers, an Alien Thug which is a large heavy armoured soldier that attacks you with claws (not guns) – and finally, the more elite Alien Soldiers known as Commanders who are bastards to take down. Commanders have a sixth sense to your attacks and equipped with the best body armour – combined with a RailGun that represents an alien Sniper Rifle, you’re almost doomed!
Visually, the game is quite polished and very much reminds you of Call of Duty titles, but because of the enemy assault and how it even starts you off flat out on the ground with other soldiers referring to you as Master Chief, you get a sense of Halo about this – unintentionally as the game is tie in to the movie. If you’re also familiar with Section 8: Prejudice on the Xbox LIVE Arcade, the campaign is very much similar only more visually appealing due to being a less restrictive retail title, but even that had multiplayer! The war torn Hawaiian landscapes while looking visually great in appearance sadly becomes a repetitive view after a few chapters in because the whole game is set in the same area – again, unintentionally as it is a tie in the movie that stays in Hawaii.
It is in parts quite a challenging game with various difficulty settings to suit your level of perseverance, but sadly being a single campaign with no multiplayer options offers no form of replay value unless you want to tackle obtaining the whole 1000 Gamerscore, which shouldn’t be that difficult a feat either. Battleship will appeal to fans of first person shooters who like rampaging through chapters filled with enemies, but – it’s let down by a short campaign and still doesn’t give much hope that video games tied to movies can be epic. The game is good, but by no means great.
You will likely begin to question the price tag since it offers very little.