Nintendo Australia Battalion Wars 2
Equal parts Metal Slug and Command and Conquer
- Lots of single player content backed by a strong plot, new naval combat, great visuals, online play is well executed
- Online play needs more content and options, gameplay can get repetitive once you figure out a no-fail killer combo, Wii controls were spotty.
Batttalion Wars 2 is an obvious improvement over its predecessor and should find it's way into the waiting hands of series veterans as well as grunts who have just gotten their hands on a standard issue Wii.
Price$ 99.95 (AUD)
Composed of equal parts Metal Slug and Command and Conquer, the Battalion Wars franchise has been lauded by some as a potential sleeper hit, while others would say the game shot wide of the mark thanks to a plodding single-player campaign, lack of multiplayer and strategy-lite game mechanics.
Battalion Wars 2 for the Wii, however, improves on the original thanks to two shiny new weapons in its arsenal: naval combat and a fully functional online component, but stymies in the face of other familiar game play problems.
Battalion Wars 2 chronicles the military conflicts of six super powers that are loosely based on real-world nations with a plot that bounces around chronologically across a two hundred year span. The six single-player campaigns set you at the helm of each of the warring factions, typically encompassing four or five missions.
The character-driven plot is entertaining and provides a few good laughs. The visual style is consistent at every turn, with gorgeously rendered cut scenes and almost Disney-styled game sprites. Time-specific filters added to scenes as well as some amazing anime-style tank and helicopter drawings look right at home in the BW universe, marking Kuju's astounding attention to visual detail.
At the core of Battalion Wars 2's gameplay is the variety of land, sea and air units at your disposal. Aside from the typical Wii Remote for aim and thumbstick for movement controls, some units have their own unique motion controls. For instance, yanking the nunchuk upward will make infantrymen jump, tilting it to the sides will execute a combat roll. You can submerge and surface submarines by dunking the nunchuk downward and upward. Air units can be steered by tiling the Wii remote to the left and right, and tilting the remote up and down climbs and dives.
The nunchuk itself proved a bit unresponsive at times and using the air units frustrated us so much that we left most bombing runs and dog fights to the computer AI with mixed results. We were far more content to hunker down in the bowels of a heavily armoured tank and command our forces at the fore.
While the combat itself is balanced, the enemy AI can often be tricked by simple bait and switch manoeuvres or simply with a correct sequence of unit attacks. For example, if you order your ground forces into an enemy airbase in order to neutralise the enemy's anti-air defences, then order a bombing run, there's really no way you can lose. Without any difficulty settings, the game play can become a bit routine.
Which brings us to one of the land mines left behind from the original Battalion Wars — a complete dearth of multiplayer options. Once you've tired of single player, you can connect with friends or strangers via Nintendo's Wi-Fi Connection for multiplayer. Battalion Wars 2 gives you three options for online multiplayer including Assault for objective-based missions, Skirmish for time-based blastathons and Co-op. Each mode is fun, and we found the execution flawless; at no time did we wait more than a minute or two before joining a game, and lag was non-existent.
Unfortunately, you can't play the single player campaign cooperatively online and obviously the Wii lacks voice chat, which can put a damper on the explosive fun. The online features are limited to three open missions and one unlockable mission each — just enough to keep you occupied after finishing the single player mode. There's also no split screen multiplayer, which is a bummer. Even without splitscreen, though, it would have been nice for another player to join in a support role, like Super Mario Galaxy, say allocating unit production or commanding troops while player one leads the charge.
For a quick debriefing, Battalion Wars 2 is a solid title with a hearty single player mode, a decent amount of unlockable content and a fun online component. The consistent and excellent art direction sets a standard that we hope will raise the bar for other games.
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