Battalion Wars

October 31, 2005

[floatleft][/floatleft]Real-time strategy games would have to fall into my top three favorite gaming genres of all time. In fact, playing [i]Dune[/i] on the Genesis for hours on end is still one of my fondest memories. Since their console departure, RTS games have been a mainstay in PC gaming. The [i]C&C[/i] series was fantastic, and [i]Blizzard[/i] of course has done some great things for the genre. Nintendo and [i]Battalion Wars[/i] bring the RTS genre back to the console.

The setting in [i]BW[/i] is one rife with tension and conflict. Two nations with a tense and heated past are separated by a thin demilitarized done. On one side of the conflict is the Western Frontier whose General Herman is itching to get his troops back into combat. On the other side is the Tsar of the Tundran Empire and his son Marshal Nova. As you may have already guessed, [i]BW[/i] isn’t exactly sporting an Oscar-winning plot, and it’s no surprise that fighting is about to break out.

[floatright][/floatright]One of the innovative features and approaches taken with [i]BW[/i] is the role you play in the game. Instead of a 3D overhead view, you actually play a character in the game in addition to controlling other units on your side. This is something that I always thought would make RTS games much more immersive, and sadly I think I was wrong. I’m really unsure as to whether or not the implementation of this concept was just off or if it becomes far too complicated to micromanage units and focus on a single character. I frequently found myself dying at the expense of unit management, or vice versa. Despite your role, you do have the ability to change your overhead view to provide a better view of the action. After experiencing a concept I swore would improve the genre, I think the tried-and-true method of removed overhead management is the way to go.

The in-game tutorial does a nice job of prepping you for battle, and like I described above, there is a slight learning curve associated with unit management. While the action gets very hectic and almost frustrating, I found that the variety of units in [i]BW[/i], as well as the almost overwhelming ability to manage individual or groups of units, kept the action fresh and just difficult enough to keep you playing.

[floatleft][/floatleft]Despite my almost instant dislike for what I would consider a pretty key part of the game, I am pretty happy with the way [i]BW[/i] turned out. I don’t know that I would proclaim it a ‘must-buy’ for RTS fans, but it’s nice to at least see how the role of soldier and commander works out, and I definitely can’t foresee it being a common addition to future RTS games. All in all, [i]BW[/i] is a decent gaming experience that tries some new things, and for that I can’t fault it. We always get upset that certain studios do nothing but churn out sequels with the same bland gameplay. Well, [i]BW[/i] is a departure from the norm. While I don’t think it quite worked out, I’m at least pleased that an effort was made to distinguish this title from everything else out there.

Score: 2/5

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