Battleship PS3 review
You have to feel for developers assigned to ‘game of the film of the game’ material with a premise so limited and ridiculous not even Gabe Newell and Jesus Christ could team up to fashion a triple-A title from the wreckage.
It must have been with a resigned sigh that Double Helix set to work on creating this trite FPS with RTS elements Velcroed on over the holes and scuffs – and you can practically hear that sigh reverberate around the invisible walls in each of its listless levels. But before we fire it out of a cannon and banish it to Abysmal Game Island, where it has to endure Duke Nukem’s one-liners for all eternity as punishment, let’s point out Battleship’s successes, such as they are.
The core tenet (bearing in mind that this is a game based on a film about Earth fighting an alien invasion using the Battleship boardgame’s rules) shows at least some effort towards invention and originality. You’re a man with a gun, on an island under siege by ‘aliens’ who are essentially human men with snub noses in blue suits. In a clever nod towards popular gaming tropes, you must shoot them.
But bear with us – once downed, they drop power-ups (or ‘Wild Cards’), which you can use in the game’s ‘strategy layer’. This layer works only a little bit like a game of Battleship. It’s a grid, right enough, in which you can position your fleet, and moving to certain locations grants you naval support in the FPS layer.
Collecting Wild Cards increases each ship’s missile power, armour, radar and suchlike in preparation for picking up the Golden Wheel power-up which lets you take control of a ship in a one-on-one battle. These all play out identically: you mash three buttons for ten seconds, and the alien ship explodes helplessly.
These two layers produce an experience comparable to arranging the funeral of a close relative, but at least Double Helix has tried to make some sense of a profoundly flawed concept that should never have been allowed near a game studio.
Many of Battleship’s failings – the horrible alien design and absence of any engaging characters or narrative – are inexorably linked to the movie. Sadly, it’s an excuse that doesn’t extend as far as the horrible alien weapon design, inept friendly AI or archaic level design full of repeated material.
There are occasional efforts to break the monotonous cover shooting with wave-based defence sections, but thanks to a host of fuzzy underlying mechanics such as sticky scenery, invisible walls and an odd lack of effective cover, these are undermined.They’re also muddied with the seemingly arbitrary game of Battleship going on simultaneously – you end up actually preferring the mindless following of the ‘move here’ icon and pressing of a button on something when you get there – there’s less chance of the game falling over itself that way.
There’s an element of novelty in the first few minutes of play, but it doesn’t last long. It isn’t even the sketchy gameplay that sinks this Battleship – it’s the abhorrently commercial objective apparent in every second of rushed gameplay. There’s no artistic vision here, and the original idea at its core hasn’t been given the time and love needed to build a coherent or enjoyable game.