A videogame based on a movie based on a board game – these words will not fill many players with confidence. Set alongside the events of the Hollywood movie, Battleship the game blends first-person shooting with real-time strategy – and, surprisingly enough, it’s not as bad as that sounds. Make no mistake, this is a movie cash-in, so expectations should be lowered accordingly, but at the very least, this is more than a simple rehash of the film. Battleship pits players as an explosives tech on duty in Hawaii when an alien invasion kicks off. With enemy forces cutting off all communications between allied troops and naval forces, it’s up to players to ward off the invasion one island at a time, collecting additional forces along the way. As a shooter, Battleship is run-of-the-mill. There’s no great surprises in the control interface, the visuals are so-so (although, Double Helix seem to think that if they give all the characters face masks, no one will notice that they avoided having to render any facial animations) and there’s nothing in the level design that hasn’t been seen a thousand times before. The novelty lies in the ability to switch to a tactical view of the naval theater of operations. You can command ships to move, attack, explore or disarm enemy ordinance – it’s about as close to the original board game as you’re ever likely to get on a console. Bonuses picked up during the first-person campaign can give you an edge at sea, or allow you to call in air-strikes. These perks are essential to completing many of the shooter missions, so interplay between the two modes is essential. And, in a nice touch, naval maneuvers that you’ve ordered will take place as your first-person tasks continue. If you can spare the time from shooting and turn to watch, you’ll see your fleet lumbering into position to provide artillery support, or watch them flank an enemy vessel and sail to your rescue.
These curios aside, there’s nothing spectacular about Battleship. And it’s short too, with a single-player campaign that can be completed in a few hours and no multiplayer. Far from the terrible tie-up that was expected, but nothing other than an interesting, one-shot aside.