Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, 3DS, DS (Nintendo 3DS version reviewed)
Developer: Magic Pockets
Tagline: The Battleship boardgame meets action turn based strategy
Family Friendly: Click here for more information.
Verdict: Wait for a Sale
I am sure that you can understand my trepidation as I walked into the review for Battleship 3D on the Nintendo 3DS. I mean, here is a game that is based on a movie that is based on a board game – and not necessarily a good movie at that. Compound the fact that movie game tie-ins are pretty terrible in general and I had a recipe for disaster coming into my review session. However, Battleship ended up surprising me a bit, and while it is not a game that you need to run out and buy, it is a decent strategy title when you get past some of the trappings.
First off, I should make note that if you were coming into the 3DS version of Battleship and expecting the same experience as the Xbox 360 or PS3 versions of the game you would be sorely mistaken. Same thing goes with anyone expecting to see Liam Neeson or Rihanna, as neither is present in Battleship on 3DS. Instead, Battleship 3D takes the concept of the movie but turns it into a turn based action strategy title. Yes, you can think of this as a tabletop version of old school Battleship, but a tactical game where the pieces actually move during turns. Your goal is to work through several campaign missions where you attack enemy alien units on a grid based combat map. Each map has you tackling objectives that boil down to either defeating enemy squads, or liberating friendly harbors while destroying enemy squads.
Each mission will put you in command of several different ships, like destroyers, frigates, inflatable rafts and cruisers, and each has their own strengths and weaknesses to attack enemies. While destroyers and frigates will be great at taking on larger enemy ships, your smaller craft are better at scouting the map, and liberating harbors to add additional craft to your fleet. While there is a nice assortment of units, it is hard to figure out what each unit is at a glance, and the game does a poor job of explaining these strengths and weaknesses, so you end up learning through trial and error. As a matter of fact, I had the tutorial explaining the frigates “Far Attack” special move about two matches after I had already started using that special attack.
Battleship also makes use of the bottom touch screen during duel battles, where you move a destroyer or other large craft alongside an enemy ship. In Duel mode, you use the touch screen to target points on the enemy ship in a 3D view while pulling the right bumper to shoot rounds. While I thought this was a nice use of the touch screen, it required me to get the stylus out to target while balancing the 3DS in my lap. Yes, the controls for Dueling are not very ergonomic and you end up fighting the handheld rather than enjoying the action on the screen.
But as you start to delve into the mechanics of Battleship, there is a decent strategy game to be found, even if on a simple level. The game does factor in things like flanking or rear attacks, and coming at a unit head on will factor in for more damage on your ship vs. coming in with a tactical attack from the rear. Enemies come in different shapes and sizes and having the right ship available for the proper attack is the difference between a naval success and a terrible defeat.
Since this is a 3D title, it does make decent use of the 3D, but to be honest, it is never really necessary to play the game. The main battlefield grid is absolutely in 2D and the only time 3D comes into play is during an attack, and every attack you perform, the game cuts to a scene of your ship firing in 3D and the enemy ship taking damage in 3D. Also, narrative cut scenes will have pictures of ships in 3D, but it is more frosting on a cake than a necessity.
As you progress through each mission, you will be scored on your success or failure in a battle, and players should not be surprised at some battles hitting you with a B or a C grade, as the enemy is very challenging, especially when you get to some of the harder enemies later in the campaign. Also, there is a skirmish mode that allows you to create a battle on the fly, as well as medals for performing certain tasks.
The weakest aspect of Battleship 3D is the main story itself, as it is told with terrible dialog and it tries way too hard to link into the movie that the game is based on. It is very cheesy, and the static scene of a ship with overlaid text on the screen during the cut scenes feel cheap and lack any substance. I think if they would have just kept these to a minimum and focused more on the main gameplay, which is fairly good, it would make for a much better title. Instead, you are force-fed this side plot of the main movie without any of the production values of the Battleship movie, and – as mentioned before – no Rihanna or Liam Neeson to be found anywhere.
And that is the crux of Battleship 3D. It is a title that surprises with a decent strategy, never overcomplicating things, but making you think through each attack and move that you make with your units. The idea of forcing this title into the narrative of the movie seems to hurt the game more than help it, and as long as you take that out of the equation, you end up with a pretty good action strategy title on the go.
- Quality tactical combat
- Lots of different units
- Medal goals are challenging to obtain
You Sank My Battleship:
- Main story is a complete hogwash
- 3D is tacked on and not really necessary
Battleship 3D is very family friendly, as there is little in the way of violence, language or adult situations. It is set in a war-like setting, but you are fighting alien ships and never actual people. There is a sense of loss in cut scenes if a lot of ships are lost, which might be an issue with some parents. Also, the strategy aspect can be challenging for younger gamers, but anyone over 10 should be fine with the mechanics.