"Sink or Be Sunk"
People have been dissing Battleship (the movie) a lot, and I'd probably be one of them, if I had bothered to see it. However, I digress, which brings me back to the purpose of this review: to relay to you, the readers, whether or not Battleship (the 3DS video game) is worth your time. Thing is, you may or may not have already gotten your answer.
An identical port of the Wii version already reviewed by GD's Erik Sugay, Battleship on the 3DS consists mainly of turn-based strategy battles located on oceanic grid-maps. But before we get to that, let's talk about the game's story a little.
Set in the world of the movie, the story stars a generic-looking band of naval folk unique to the game who travel the high seas, bringing the fight to fleets of alien spacecraft piloted by a group of extraterrestrial goons whose heads look like potatoes (I can't help it. They look like potatoes). While it provides context for the battles at sea, the plot, with its generic heroes and typical plot turns, is nothing that hasn't been done several times before.
It's just as well, as the combat in Battleship is the real reason for playing. Let me explain for you how it works, assuming you're not in the mood to click on the above link to the Wii version review. In battle you have a certain number of ships at your disposal. These ships range from relatively weak and small patrol boats to massive (but slower) aircraft carriers that can deal and take greater damage, to support ships that can heal damage and refuel other ships.
The enemy aliens also come with multiple craft of various size, type, and range. Fighting them is a pretty basic affair. You pick a ship, move it to a grid-square within range, and either attack, secure something like a harbor or enemy turret, or boost the ship's defense for the enemy attack to come. Attacking isn't as basic, however, since every attack you land (except for most long-distance attacks) comes with slight return fire from the enemy. This damage can be lessened, depending on how you position your ship, but this forces you to put some thought into how you approach your foes offensively. Charging head-first with reckless abandon is the best way to sink your battleships (see what I did there?).
While the objective of most missions is to take out enemy ships, often you will be faced with a secondary mission along with the main one. Usually these secondary missions task you with protecting a city or a ship in peril before they are destroyed, but other times you will be trying to escape a certain point, seizing control of enemy turrets, or trying to survive for a certain number of turns.
Playing Battleship, I was surprised by the combat, which, while simple, comes with enough nuances to keep from getting dull. Managing your fleet as a whole and as separate units can get tricky, especially when enemies are plenty and supply ships few. Also complicating things are various swaths of shallow water placed throughout each map, which restrict the movement of larger vehicles, and thick fog that obscure everything, including enemy craft, beyond your ships' range. All in all, Battleship's combat system is pretty solid and well balanced.
It is not without its flaws, though. Aside from the generic plot mentioned earlier, I found the game to be a little on the easy side. While challenging, there were times when the combat seemed to be a simple matter of ganging up on enemies and blasting the alien poop out of them. The fact that the difficulty can't be adjusted only makes this worse. More irksome than that is the fact that you can't save the game in the middle of a mission. You can only save after you completed the mission, which can be very inconvenient if you need to step out halfway through.
Also annoying is the fact that you can only navigate the maps and place your units with the D-pad. The 3DS' touch screen is sadly underused here, serving only to show the location of your ships and enemy ships and display info on each ship. The only time touch controls come into play are during the "Duels" that can take place between larger ships (see the review for the Wii version for more on that). It's a pity, since the touch screen could have made navigation and unit-placement much easier and much quicker, but instead, the control scheme used tends to slow down an already slow-paced experience.
Despite this, Battleship should be rewarding enough for those who give it a try. The plot may be bland, yes, and the game is bogged down by some rather questionable design choices, but the core of the experience, the combat, is solid and engaging nonetheless. Considerably more so than I had expected it to be.
To be honest, I had somewhat lower expectations before playing this game. I was even preparing the article to come with a title saying something about my sunken hopes. It was going to be good. Almost made me wish that the game sunk… I mean stunk, more.
GameDynamo's Score for Battleship (3DS)
A writer, journalist, and aspiring storyteller, Peter Grimm has been gaming since the days of the Nintendo 64, and reporting on the goings-on in the World of Gaming since late 2011. His base of writing operations is located within the void between Here and There, or so he would have you think.
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