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'Battleship: The Game' review (Xbox 360): A sea of mediocrity

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Released on Thursday, Apr 26 2012

'Battleship: The Video Game' screenshot

© Activision


Also available on: PS3, Wii, 3DS, DS
Developer: Double Helix Games
Publisher: Activision
Genre: First-person shooter

Battleship for the Xbox 360 is a video game based on a movie, which is based on a board game. But don't worry if you're yet to see the fllm, or have never played the board game, because the video game has got nothing to do with either of them. It's confusing, we know. Granted, it deals with an alien invasion and, for board game enthusiasts, there are battleships, but the majority of the action takes place on land amid a variety of Hawaiian islands.

Unfortunately, while it has little in common with the corresponding movie - there's not a pop star in sight - it shares many a similarity with the dreaded video game movie tie-in, feeling rushed and rough around the edges, despite containing a few novel ideas.

The game puts players in the shoes of Cole Mathis, an explosives expert stationed in Hawaii. After a brief training exercise in which Mathis disables a few bombs and blows stuff up, it's straight into the action. Aliens have crash landed on Earth and they've shut off contact with the outside world, engaging humans in combat both on land and sea. Unsurprisingly, it's your job to stop them.

'Battleship' screenshot
Storytelling isn't really the game's strong point, but then the same could be said for the movie. In-game characters seem very blasé about the alien invasion, barely questioning or remarking about the significance of the life-changing discovery of extra-terrestrial lifeforms.

Mission objectives are explained in between levels, giving a detailed analysis of what needs to be done, without elaborating on the plot. Other than a generic radio voiceover giving updates and dishing out orders, you're very much on your own and in the dark.

In terms of the gameplay, Battleship: The Game is a pretty standard and uninspiring first-person shooter. The FPS action is solid, provided you have access to an assault rifle, as the pistol feels incredibly flimsy and alien weaponry is a little hard to handle.

Missions generally involve moving from one point to another, disabling alien devices with an explosive or two, and defending fellow characters or landmarks. Unfortunately, there are only a handful of different enemy types, little variety in the missions and even less of a challenge, largely thanks to the awful enemy AI.

Battleship: The Game does have one ace up its sleeve, however, and that's the real-time-strategy elements involving battleships. A quick flick of the button switches the action to battleship mode, granting access to a grid-based naval combat screen. Players can move ships to specific spots on the map, either to engage enemy vessels or launch land attacks.


Every move you make takes place in real time, which means that you'll witness your ships manoeuvring for space on the open seas, which is a very nice touch. Players can also apply bonuses to ships, resulting in increased attack strength, or additional radar visibility. It all helps in the battle to rid the seas of invaders and wipe out a particularly troublesome group of soldiers on land.

The naval element of Battleship: The Game feels slightly underdeveloped, offering far less of a challenge than it could have. Provided you keep an eye on ships and apply bonuses, the vigilant commander has little to worry about. There are even moments when players actually take control of the ships, but once again, this doesn't develop the game or offer much of a challenge.

'Battleship' screenshot
With the relatively straightforward campaign bested - in only two or three sessions - there isn't much reason to revisit the game. With the potential for some enjoyable online land and sea battles, the developer really has missed a trick by not adding a multiplayer element.

Considering that one if the biggest problems in the game is a lack of challenge, facing up against human opposition could have added new life into what is a pretty generic shooter.

There are higher difficulty levels and hidden collectable pegs, but it's not a good enough reason to revisit the campaign. Even the bright and colourful islands aren't worth exploring, thanks to an incredibly linear level structure.

By no means the worst movie-based video game we've ever played, Battleship: The Game has some nice ideas, but fails to follow through on the concept. The marriage of real-time strategy and first-person action should elevate the title beyond the dreaded movie tie-in, but ends up feeling massively underdeveloped. One for the weekend perhaps, but Battleship: The Game's redeeming qualities are lost among a sea of mediocrity.


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