Friday, December 3, 2010

Game Review: Battalion: Vengeance

Battalion: Vengeance is the last game in the Battalion games' storyline. (There's another game in the series, Arena, which is the multiplayer version; I don't really feel obligated to review it seperately.)

I've alluded loosely to the gameplay of the Battalion series in the past, but I'll try to go into a bit more detail this time (as the previous reviews were written while severely crunched for time, and this time I'm only mildly crunched for time).

The central feature of the game is that you must, in turn-based fashion, control various units that loosely simulate warfare. There are tanks, artillery trucks, aircraft, and ships in all versions of the game.

The first game relies entirely on stationary "buildings" which are effectively actually map tiles that have special characteristics and benefits, such as granting resources or building units, and there are infantry units which must be used to contest possession of these buildings. The second game introduces the War Machines, a sort of combination mobile factory, mining machine, and artillery piece, though it is not nearly as effective at the artillery purpose as the Rocket Truck, and should only be used as such in an emergency (especially since you can't replace a War Machine, but a Rocket Truck, though expensive, not only has better range but is expendable in a pinch).

As with most strategy games worth their salt (here's one that isn't for comparison), Battalion's units each have strengths and weaknesses (one of which is cost, which varies with the strength of the unit). Tanks are generally vulnerable to artillery and aircraft, little tanks are vulnerable to bigger tanks, bigger tanks are more vulnerable to artillery (the Annihilator Tank, a massive vehicle that can take out many vehicles in one hit, is particularly slow, and thus fairly easy to bombard from a distance), most ships are vulnerable to submarines, and aircraft are vulnerable to Raptor Fighters and anti-air specialists, as well as Rocket Trucks (which can target almost anything in the game). There are other strategic units, such as Barricades, artillery towers, and Jammer Trucks, which each play additional roles.

Gameplay is king, but story can play a large part in a game like this as well. Each game has an interconnected storyline following a different character, and through most of them, you are controlling forces for one of three different factions. In the first game, you control the red army; in the second, the blue; and in the last game, except for a mission or two where you control an allied red force, you control the green army.

Personally, I feel that game two, Ghosts, had the strongest storyline (the first game, Nemesis, was really just a setup for the other two), but this one's follows that one's up in an ultimately satisfying way, so I can't complain too much.

The missions, though... I can't help but feel that the missions in Vengeance weren't quite up to the same standards as in the first two games.


If I wanted to play a strategy game puzzle, I'd look up a chess puzzle, thank you very much.

Perhaps the most egregious offender is this one, where you must carefully guard your artillery from the enemy, or you simply lose because you have no way to kill a tank that's been stationed behind some mountains.

There are some of the great brawling chapters that I enjoy a little later, though, such as this one on the open sea.

And I must admit also, there's very little more satisfying than using a Dreadnaught to pound ground-based artillery to dust from just out of reach, or killing tanks with Condor Bombers (those huge, painfully expensive dirigible things).

Also, while at first I didn't much like the character Commander Yurik, I must admit that he grew on me over time, especially once he said this:

Gotta love that.

As with the other Battalion games, I can recommend this if strategy games are your thing, especially if RTS games are too fast-paced for you.

-Signing off.

No comments: