Itâs a given that every blockbuster Hollywood film will have a video game movie-tie in these days, but the quality of each... that's far from certain. We could fill up a weighty scrap book on how many terrible video games have come from brilliant movies; whether itâs due to poor development planning or rushed deadlines. But what happens when the movie itself is total pants to begin with? The answer: Battleship.
To truly comprehend this abomination, I feel we need to discuss the cinema experience first. For starters, Battleship (the movie) has more cheese than a four-cheese deluxe tortellini thatâs been out in the sun for a week.
Of course, itâs not really surprising that the film lacks a decent script, considering itâs based off a board game that has players yelling out D4! C8! B2! for ten minutes. But, even when the writersâ imaginations are allowed to run rampant, the plot dribbles along like a limbless Mexican Walking Fish.
Realising that having Liam Neeson screaming âYOU SUNK MY BATTLESHIPâ for two hours could be a tad boring for movie-goers; they decided to add in aliens. Fair call, especially considering Mr. Neeson had the self-respect to only appear in the film for about twenty seconds. But these have to be some of the stupidest exterrestrials since those aliens in Signs forgot that Earth is pretty much entirely made out of water (yeah, their only weakness). [Spoiler aler... oh. - Ed.]
Battleship features âadvanced beingsâ that have the technology to travel through space at lightspeed in a giant flying monolith, but for some strange reason can only clumsily skip across water here on Earth. Or, despite having incredible telekinetic powers, decide that the best way to dominate the planet is to lob little grenades around the place or get into a boxing match. They also have an incredible knack for knowing which characters are celebrities and take great lengths to ensure that every lead actor survives while inflicting death on everyone else around them.
All of this works, however, because the humans in Battleship are living in a fantasy world of complete and utter nonsense too. This is a universe where we can swing an aircraft carrier around 180 degrees by simply dropping its anchor. Or how about the fact that a handicapped ["Differently Abled" - Ed.] person can win a fist fight against an alien who we just saw stomp its way through solid steel? I forgot of course that the handicapped guy was American, so I take that back.
So what does all of this mean for the video game? Amazingly, it makes the game look pretty damn good. But then, thatâs like saying that tofu is a tasty treat when compared to eating a big old slab of plasterboard. Considering how awful the film is, we should be grateful of one thing at least. Activisionâs Battleship (the video game) takes a completely different approach and follows a side story not seen in the movie, while still revolving around the same (ridiculous) premise.
Possibly this was a budget decision though, as this also means that there are no repeated characters from the movie and therefore no expensive voice acting. Instead, the game centers around demolitions expert, Cole Mathis who is charged with defending the Hawaiian coast from invading alien forces. Why would a demolitions specialist be leading an attack? We have no idea, but it does produce an excellent excuse for having a whole lot of things that âgo boomâ. This is the sort of thinking that would give Michael Bay a nose bleed.
As Cole âIâll blow your freaking face clean offâ Mathias, youâll be running around shooting and reducing enemies to a fine dust on the battlefield. Most of the game plays out just like your typical first-person shooter, with players completing objectives and emptying clips into anything that looks non-human. Itâs as simple as that. And equally as short-lived. The game clocks in at under five hours across seven levels and the variation of the core gameplay borders on stagnant. Youâll encounter five different guns (stock standard ones like machine guns, pistols or a sniper rifle) and only three different enemy units to try them out on.
There is one saving grace in Battleship however. In between the run-of-the-mill FPS chore, youâll have some strategy gameplay as well. In a highly creative version of the original classic board game, Battleship includes sequences where you will be helming something known as the battleship command system. Throughout the game youâll witness alien vessels and naval ships moving around and doing battle out at sea as you attempt to hold the coast on foot. But being a demolitions expert (eh?) you can also instruct your forces to move and attack by bringing up a special command screen.
Here the game pays homage to the board game by presenting a grid map that allows you to maneuver ships and engage them against enemy ones. Each vessel has a health-bar and losing ships in battle can result in losing the game. As you progress and kill enemies in FPS mode, youâll be able to upgrade the armour, radar visibility, range, and weaponry of your ships and even control them in a first-person view mode where you can aim and fire the shipâs massive guns. Itâs a welcome change of pace, but itâs ultimately flawed by a lack of execution and an irritating load time that breaks up the gameplay in a clunky manner.
The visuals are decent in Battleship, albeit extremely monotonous, and the controls are solid - but there are just too many negatives in the game to ever appreciate them. We could write another 1500 words on how non-existent the enemy AI is in this game, but we donât want to bore you (for that you can go watch the movie). Auto-aim seems to be permanently on (is it a feature if you canât turn it off?) and the same goes for the subtitles, which are compulsory viewing.
Even the âopen-worldâ map designs are dodgy, and I was constantly worried about breaking the game by wandering into âthe wrong areaâ. At one point I climbed up a cliff to see a bunch of enemies all freaking out over a small rock, completely oblivious to my presence. I felt so bad I didnât even shoot them. Instead I just quietly walked away and left them to it. Theyâre probably still there, all partying down on a piece of gradually smoothing granite. Considering the flaws in the campaign mode, itâs probably for the best that this game has no multiplayer component whatsoever.
Weâve discussed this a fair bit here at NZGamer.com. We know that movie tie-in games have their place. After watching a blisteringly good, action packed movie on the big screen, we often want to race home and immerse ourselves in that world first hand. Even after Transformers: The Worsening, I wanted to hoon around as Bumblebee. But itâs the format of these rushed, money grabbing, poorly thought out adaptations that roasts our onions.
The Watchmen did it just right with their two-parter, third-person brawler game that was a cheap and quick download on either PSN or Xbox Live. For a fraction of the price, gamers were able to jog home from the cinema, download the game, and get their jollies off until the buzz wore off a few hours later. However with Battleship (if you even got excited by the movie in the first place), youâll be left holding an expensive drinks coaster and wondering why you feel jaded (or want to join the Navy).