• WWII games have come and gone and the majority of those have been land based with a smattering of very poor flying simulators thrown in for good measure. Now Eidos steps up to the plate to deliver a whole new gaming experience for us loving Xbox 360 gamers, with Battlestations Midway. In BM you have control over air, sea and undersea craft battling in WWII’s Pacific theatre. The year is 1942 and you play your part by stepping into the shoes/career of Henry Walker; a gunner at Pearl Harbour and what unfolds is one of the most inspirational US military campaigns in history.

    BM is certainly not a standard WWII game and is most definitely not to be classed as yet another flying simulator based game. Whilst yes, you can fly planes in the game… you actually have control from over sixty war machines, these include all manner of ships, planes and submarines. You will have control over Battleships, Aircraft Carriers, Heavy Cruisers, Destroyers, Landing Ships, Patrol Boats, Submarines, Fighter Planes, Bombers and Torpedo Bomber Planes to name but a few. The list is huge and you will need to make clever use of all of your resources to win the war. BM should therefore be classed as a tactical based WWII game that allows you to not only sit back and plan your attacks and direct your fleet at will, but being able to jump into any craft and take control of the action yourself.

    BM game modes offer the Xbox 360 gamer what we have come to expect now, these modes covering a training academy to hone your skills, a story/campaign mode to play through and gaining achievements for completing tasks and campaign on various difficulty levels. A challenge mode has been included to test both your skill and nerve using specific unit types and if all that was not enough BM has full Xbox LIVE Multiplayer support where massive battles will occur online with up to eight players being in control of up to one hundred fleet units on screen at the same time.

    Battlestations: Midway

    You will no doubt or at least I would hope that you begin your life with BM by undertaking the Naval Academy training exercises. I would recommend that you do this before diving into the game (no pun intended), as these will teach you the intricacies of commanding and operating the different fleet units. The command system itself carries pretty much an identical control template for your hulking great, war machines, but to be expected, Air, Sea and Undersea units also have their own unique attributes and you need to get these down and perfected before venturing towards the campaign. And… well… if you are still not convinced then completing the Academy will also net you 40 gamerscore points for having done so. Now I do have to mention that BM is certainly more suited for PC gamers being able to use a keyboard and mouse approach but Eidos have done a pretty good job mapping functions to the Xbox 360 Controller… and it won’t take you too long to remember what does what. My final recommendation is that you pause your game and invert the controls for your plane… the standard set-up just does not work for people that are used to flight simulations.

    Having wetted your appetite for what you are to expect, the campaign in BM is set over eleven and what Eidos will class as eleven epic campaign missions, and this begins with introducing you to Henry Walker and your role at this point of getting your butt over to your ship. This is Pearl Harbour and having lost your ship you take control of the Patrol boat you are on and start to fight back. Now then… BM works in two ways; you can control your craft(s) through either direct control or by using a tactical map and directing your craft(s) to positions on the map or assigning them to targets. Using the tactical map allows you to quite literally sit back and just direct the action with simple point and click commands using the maps cursor. It has to be said that you will spend a large portion of your game time doing this and if you are wondering why would I? Well then simply remember that you usually have multiple units and different types of units at your disposal and all of them needing to be directed and used to achieve the end game. My method here was to initially get to grips with what I had at my disposal and my targets, then directing my fleets/aircraft to their destination before I would come out of the tactical map and start taking direct control. But speaking of direct control and opening up on this aspect, just like the tactical map moving between each unit is a doddle, and done in a flash. You simply move left or right on your d-pad to cycle through each unit placing you in control of your selection, and should you get bored of said aircraft, sub or ship then you will just be able to hop to another selection at will. It’s a beautiful set-up and very easy to master. Of course you will not always have multiple fleets at your disposal and at times will only be able to control one ship/sub or aircraft and this coupled with the game making that choice for you, but the decision over tactical or direct control is still yours to make and will come down to a personal gaming style on choice or favoured approach.

    The campaign as brilliant as it was to play through is not long enough… I managed to complete the entire campaign in around eight hours and this only left me wanting more. However that said, I am playing on a normal setting and I would expect things to be slightly more frantic on veteran difficulty, which have no doubt… playing on veteran will be my next target adding to my ever growing gamerscore. My experiences on the campaign so far played at the difficulty I have, leave me to say that the game is very neatly done! Controlling multiple units at the same time is seamless and very easily done, direct control is very easy to pick up and will have you deep in the action with no major complexities to master and the whole affair is played with a calm nature and having a lot of enjoyment doing so.

    As stated earlier BM has a number of challenge modes to complete with an additional twelve missions to complete. These are split over specific types of craft and you will have ship/aircraft and sub choices available to you and open and available from the get go. The difference here and well, why they are labelled “challenges” is that they are not a walk in the park. An example of one I have played through was on a sub challenge where I faced an immense opposing fleet with my fleet size being limited to one submarine. Now whilst I had the element of surprise in my back pocket… having to come to at least periscope depth to attack, I was quickly spotted and overrun with depth charges heading my way. These challenges therefore not only add to the longevity of BM but also put you in the hot seat and serve to burn you at any chance.

    The Xbox LIVE Multiplayer aspect to the game has to be stated as pure class and brilliant. I had a one on one match the other day that lasted two hours… two long but “oh so wonderful” hours and that was just one match!!! There is nothing better than an opposing human AI to take on and the match was being played like a chess game with us both trying to move against each other to take control. Throughout the match I was able to deploy up to four sea craft including a mix of boats/subs and up to twenty, four planes again being able to choose from fighters to bombers… all craft replaceable with loses. The match was played with my objective being to take out his aircraft carriers and his shipyard base and as you would expect ground was gained and lost throughout what turned out to be a titanic battle. To win you need to move quickly and the speed at switching craft in the offline portion has been fully carried over to multiplayer and you are never more than a second away from jumping into the hot spots on each battle.

    Gameplay in my opinion will always make up the majority of my scoring, because if a game plays like watching paint dry then any good looks will become forgettable. Thankfully with BM this is not the case as gameplay here is top notch and has to be said graphically this is beautifully done. Backdrops with water and island details are very well done, worth taking some time to appreciate and certainly not an after thought. The attention to detail to your units is pretty slick too, you will even see tiny crew members making their way around the ships and going about their duties. It’s this attention to detail that makes this is a game look as good as it plays. Audio presentation is rousing and perfectly aligned with the style of the game; from music score to weapon fire your eardrums will truly be delighted. Voice acting on the flip side is not that great but acceptable all the same, and as a bonus during cut scenes can be skipped.

    Problems with BM are very minor and my thoughts concentrate purely on the length of the campaign with what is looking like eight hours to play through on normal difficulty being a tad short and as such could affect BM’s shelf life. But… and thankfully so; multiplayer and challenge modes add to the game and increase its longevity and will keep gamers occupied for a wee while.

    Overall BM is great fun to play from both a tactical and action based angle, and this is one that we would recommend you play, even if you were to rent. And now only leaves me to say I would be surprised to find you disappointed with this game.

    Score: 8/10

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