Battleship may have sunk at the box office, but the game is surprisingly still afloat.
Hasbro’s board game Battleship recently saw its first—and hopefully last—film adaptation. And of course, you cannot have movie about aliens and battleships without a throwing together a video game of some kind. However, unlike the Call of Duty knockoff PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 players were subjected to, Wii owners get a relatively competent turn-based strategy game with a less than spectacular story.
Having not seen the movie, I am unable to comment on how well the game replicates its story; however, I can say it feels about as well executed as the film’s 41 out of 100 Metacritic average suggests. Aside from the fact that the invading aliens resemble humanoid pit bulls that have recently seen the bad side of a porcupine, there is nothing remarkable here. And once I found out I could ignore the story and just follow the objectives in the game’s menu, I quickly opted to do so.
The gameplay, on the other hand, feels remarkably like an improved version of the 1993 SNES game Super Battleship, which, conversely, feels remarkably like an inferior version of the Advance Wars series. In fact, that’s what we have here: an inferior, nautical version of Advance Wars with a few added mechanics. But don’t let that fact sour your opinion just yet; there is still a competent game here despite a few shortcomings.
In Battleship, you control multiple ships on a grid. When an allied ship is selected, the amount of space the ship can move and attack is highlighted. Some ships excel at close-range attacks, while others specialize in long-range attacks. Like most strategy games, you move and attack in turns, with the enemy doing the same. More often than not, the objective of the mission is to completely eradicate the enemy forces; however, some missions require you to protect individual objects, or reach an assigned destination. Some of these defense missions can get especially difficult when the majority of your fleet is preoccupied with enemy ships on the other side of the map, but they never feel cheap, and you can always complete them if you plan ahead.
The game rarely gets much more complex than that, but there are a few mechanics that add a bit of spice to what would otherwise be a simple strategy game. The most notable one appears in the form of duels. In duels, you are able to do massive damage to enemy ships while playing a short light gun sequence. The shooting in duels is not remarkable, but does add variety to gameplay. Other mechanics include specials, officer advantages, and limited fuel and missiles. Like the duels, these add little to game’s overall structure, but they are nice additions.
There are 26 different missions spanning three acts, which could last anywhere from 10 to 15 hours depending on the player. Once completed, each mission can be replayed in order to earn achievements. Sadly, the game lacks any multiplayer option, despite the fact that its inspiration is an entirely multiplayer game.
If anything is wrong with Battleship, it is that there is nothing remarkable about it. The game is fun and challenging, but bogged down by the very movie that inspired it. It might have also benefited from some sort of multiplayer option, but as it stands, you could buy far worse on the Wii.