You sank my Battleship! Ahh, such sweet words. Conjuring long-forgotten memories of a misspent youth. There we'd be, me and CStinky' Henderson, hiding out ind the bike sheds, pitching A4S inst C9S, D3S against fus, when we uld have been sitting in a sweaty dassroom learning about Applied retical Mathematics.
Now someone has the gall, nay barefaced cheek, to try and re-invent the eel so to speak. To update the classic, o remake that which should remain, er, unremade. Did they learn nothing from Last Man Standing? Yes, Hasbro Interactive are unleashing Battleship onto a pc near you. And the worst thing is that it looks so bloody good.
It's all-out war!
In this age of high technology, it simply wouldn't be enough to just give you a digital version of what's little more than a guessing game. Thus Hasbro's Battleship has been totally revamped, from the ground up. The basic principles are still the same - find your enemy and sink him, but added to this is a much deeper understanding of naval warfare. Now you can move your fleet around, launch aircraft from your carriers to go on scouting or bombing missions, intercept missiles and so on.
At your disposal is much more than the simple missile. Multiple types of weapons, aircraft, helicopters, awacs radars and submarines help you plan out a strategy. Islands, oil rigs and dockyards help with reinforcements and fuel problems. Mission objectives range from the simple total annihilation of your enemy to the more challenging problem of capturing islands, escorting convoys and recovering satellites. Basically Hasbro have done for Battleship what Nihilist (reviewed last issue) did for Asteroids.
The level of challenge is increased with the option for up to four players to battle it out over a network or Internet server. Because the action is also in realtime, gone is the problem of waiting for your turn to arrive before you can retaliate. You can even form alliances with other players (which naturally can be broken whenever is most opportune - hey, all's fair in war and war).
Pencil and paper Complimenting the advances in gameplay, Hasbro have filled the game with state-of-the-art presentation techniques. Launch a missile and you're treated to a short fmv sequence showing it taking off. Unlike many other games, these don't become intrusive - partly because they've been kept short enough not to get in the way of the gameplay, partly because there are just so many of them that there's no danger of repetitiveness, and mainly because they fit the action so well.
The layout of the game screen (as you can see from the pictures on these pages) has been well thought out, too. You can zoom in to see the individual ships and planes in your fleet or you can zoom out to get a more global look at things. Enemy ships are only revealed when you can see them (or pick them up on radar) and everything is designed to be less than two clicks away.
Battleship is just the first of a series of board game conversions (see panels) in the pipeline from Hasbro Interactive, and if this is any indication of what's to come, then we're in for a real treat over the next few months. Of course, I'm really holding out for a version of Operation or Ker-Plunk.
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
- P-200, 32 MB RAM
So Firstly, To Ask The Obvious question: what makes this game any better than the pen and paper original? Well, the fundamental concept of the standard battleship game has been changed in two basic ways. Firstly, fleets can now move around instead of waiting like sitting ducks for a random shell to find them, and secondly, players must use various technologies to help them find the general area of the ocean where the opposing fleet is likely to be, before they can start to even think about lobbing shells and listening for the bang.
First find your tile
The first thing you'll notice is that the playing area is absolutely massive. The old paper grid in which you used to hide your fleet of ships is now only one of a large number of tiles which make up the ocean map. If you tried to recreate this with pen and paper you'd need to buy about four zillion graph pads and then you'd have Sting and loads of other conservationists banging on your door. The first trick is to find the correct tile in which the enemy fleet is located before you bother to start shelling it. To begin your search you'll need to employ long-range aircraft, submarines and even satellite photography to identify possible locations. Of course you'll only get an indication of likely spots, as the enemy fleet is probably steaming at top knots in the opposite direction. So there's no guarantee that once you've sailed halfway across the ocean there will be anyone there to arm wrestle with.
In addition to the simple scenario of CChase me Sailor' around the massive map, there are 21 special missions for you to play such as escort missions and others where you've got to guard and protect nuclear weapons from attack. As well as the central HQs you'll discover many islands peppered over the vast ocean which offer repair facilities for your damaged ships. This is useful because as long as you keep an eye on your damage control screen you can break away from no-win situations and make smoke for a friendly harbour, therefore prolonging the mission.
The game comes on two cds, though you'll only need the second one for the multi-player mode. Up to four players can play at once, and if you're Norman No-mates your pc will be happy to create a number of split personalities which will kick your bilges from all points of the compass with consummate ease. It's not C&C. but it can be fun.
At this point it should also be mentioned that there are no gentlemanly rules of conduct in this game. There's no waiting for each of the fleets to line up and have their turn at hurling high explosives in an orderly fashion. When you finally see the whites of their eyes it's time for some real-time action and you must throw everything you've got as fast as you can in order to survive.
A waste off paper?
What we have here is a timeless favourite upgraded to include all the bells and whistles (and fog-horns) that the multimedia pc can offer. If you want to hear the scream of incoming shells and see video footage of cruise missiles skimming the waves then you can't fail to be impressed, but ultimately it doesn't change the fact that this is still a pretty basic concept wrapped in hi-tech clothing. While the multi-player mode is a rather jolly affair, the lack of any kind of dynamic campaign mode (where you get to play through a series of linked missions) leaves you feeling a little short-changed.
This famous board game has into the Game Boy, courtesy of Mindscape. Naval warfare was never as fun.
You have four ships (a Battleship, a Destroyer, a Frigate, and a Submarine). You position this armada on a grid, which you view from overhead. Your Game- Linked friend or the CPU also positions ships on a similar grid. Then, take turns seeking out and destroying each other's ships.
Finding your enemy can be tough, especially if he's zeroed in on your forces. Luckily, you can use more than intuition to find opposing ships. You have two Radars to ferret out enemy positions. Your Battleship carries one Harpoon missile, which sends out warheads to five different spots simultaneously. Your Destroyer carries both an MK-45II and a MK71-III for double and triple shots. Keep in mind, though, if you lose these ships before firing, you lose their weapons, too.
The graphics and sound in this nifty game will blow you out of the water. The grids are easy to decipher, and you get a vivid look and listen as your missiles blast your opponent's vessels.
If you're into solid strategy games, you'll love Battleship - it's a classic. It's an easy-to-learn, entertaining game that anyone can play, especially when they get that sinking feeling.
- Fire the Harpoon first, and you may find the enemy with your initial shot.
- Versus the CPU, place your Submarine in one of the four comers of the grid. The computer never looks for it there.
In this video version of this classic board game, you aim blindly at an overhead-view grid as you try to find and sink your enemy's four ships with your missiles. Of course, your enemy is trying to sink your ships as well. If your opponent sinks all four of your ships in this one-or two-player game, you're sunk. Who did sink my Battleship?
You remember the old board game and its electronic successor ... you'd say "E-6" and your friend, sitting across the table from you, would say "hit" or "miss" or "you sank my battleship!" depending on whether your blind guess had coincided with the location of one of his plastic ships on a 10x10 grid.
Well, Hasbro hasn't been resting on those laurels. They've entered the PC market with a 1997 update to the 1970s board game – enter Battleship the computer game. The 10x10 grid and your friend across the table have been displaced, if not removed -- now you've got a whole ocean replete with islands, air strips, oil rigs, submarines, air forces and the whole nine nautical miles, all now on a larger grid with layers of sub-grids, and your friend is played by either the computer, or by your real-life friend who is now across town, dialing in on the modem. Hasbro, by the way, has included a second player CD at no additional charge, so you can immediately get into head-to-head play with the purchase of only one copy of Battleship -- a nice touch.
My first experience with this game was confusing and frustrating, and I was steeling myself to spend several days with a game that really wasn't all that much fun. It never seemed as if I had any real control over the game; six or seven things were happening simultaneously and I wasn't sure I was controlling any of them. I thought about the score I'd give the game -- something in the low 60's with a good deal of my review devoted to what could have been based on the press releases and hype on the game box.
But then I played it some more, and instead of half-heartedly playing through the scenarios just to get to the point where I could write a decent review, I found myself starting to learn some of the nuances of the game, and then I started to enjoy playing.
Now don't get me wrong: this game isn't perfect, and there are six or seven things happening at once, but then, it is a real-time wargame, so I suppose that's the point. I guess that I had become so accustomed to the look and feel of other real-time wargames (Red Alert, Warcraft, etc.) that I expected the exact same style of interface and look in Battleship, and it just wasn't there. But consider what Hasbro attempted here: take a board game with a static 10x10 grid and expand it into a real-time multimedia wargame. Quite an undertaking. And, in fact, the computerized version of Battleship starts right where the old board game left off -- you set up your ships (now selected from a menu of many instead of the static 5 that came with the board game) and place them on a 10x10 grid ... this seems kind of weird, given that the game takes place in a much larger arena, but OK, you think, it's just an homage to the original. Except it isn't. While the game takes place on much larger maps, your fleet is always tied to a 10x10 grid; it just moves around on the larger map while still constrained to its grid. I'll explain that: your 10x10 grid acts as a sort of overlay on the larger map -- it functions as a close-up view of your fleet when you are performing individual actions (targeting, firing, etc.) but serves as a kind of chit on the larger map so that you can keep easy track of your ships. It's not always a perfect mix of grid-based movement and real-time, full theater warfare, but it suffices (oh, and the old classic Battleship is also included in this version, in case you'd like a bit of jazzed-up nostalgia).
The graphics in Battleship are an interesting facet of the game: you get everything at once -- satellite imagery, your aforementioned fleet close-up, and the larger map, all on top of each other on your screen pretty much all of the time. Each individual layer is nicely done, but it ends up being like trying to watch TV through a kaleidoscope with an overhead projector shining on the screen sometimes. Until you get used to the presentation of this game, you won't be able to tell what's going on or which layer you're on, or much of anything other than that the computer is tromping on you. You'll be just about to move a ship, or tell it to take evasive action when the satellite overlay pops up. You hurriedly try to get rid of that so you can see what you're doing, only to punch the wrong button on the screen and see your fleet zoom way back down to a little icon on the battlefield map. By the time you get back, you're just in time to see a video of fighter jets perforating your destroyers in the background while your little ship icons turn yellow, then red, then disappear. But ... once you get used to it, once you learn what is window dressing and what is really important for you to pay attention to, the presentation of this game becomes unlike anything else on the market. I think it was a bold strategy on the part of Hasbro, because what they've essentially done is to present a game where you see everything that's going on all the time. Some will dislike this presentation -- it definitely has a bit of a learning curve -- but I have found that once you invest the time to make sense of it, it becomes really intriguing and involves you in the game in a more personal way than a top-down battlefield view could.
The audio for Battleship is supposed to configure itself -- what it doesn't tell you is that you must check the box for the extra 35 MB sound file install in order to get this to work. Once you've done this, the audio is excellent -- lots of great battlefield environment sounds -- F-16 afterburners kicking in, the sonar ping of your submarines, and the percussion of your battleships' 80mm guns as they lob projectiles at the enemy, to name just a few.
Documentation for Battleship is a short CD jewel case pamphlet ... adequate, but just barely. I know that I may be sounding like a broken record about this sort of thing, but c'mon folks, give the people who pay such good money for your games a little more depth of documentation and explanation. There are online help files included with Battleship, but these too are somewhat wanting. I, for one, would certainly be willing to pay an extra buck or two to get better insights into how to enjoy a $40-$50 game.
Windows 95, 486DX2/66 or faster, 8 MB RAM (16 MB recommended), 1 MB SVGA video, 2X CD-ROM drive, 12 MB disk space, 100% SoundBlaster compatible sound card, 1 MB HD space (60 MB HD space if you want sound and video), 14.4 modem for head-to-head play
I was really looking forward to this game because I didn't feel that anyone had yet come up with a really cool naval strategy game, and after all, this one does tout itself as "The Ultimate Naval Warfare Game," so I thought that this one looked like it might break the mold. And it does in many ways -- the genus for a truly awesome naval strategy game is there. However, despite my eventual success with the interface and learning of how to handle the presentation of the battlefield controls, I would really like more ability to control how much is going on at once in the game. Also, while there are scenarios where you have bases to protect, there is much less control over what units you can control and how they can be configured than there might be. Battleship rates a 85 out of 100 at this point -- until there are some patches or a modest redesign of this game, it will take its place as a good naval strategy sim, certainly an amazing step up from the old board game, but not yet the "ultimate" naval warfare game.