Cubed3 Nintendo gaming, Wii and DS

Battalion Wars 2 (Wii) Review

Battalion Wars 2, or BWii for short, is Kuju Entertainment's follow-up to the mostly well-received GameCube title, Battalion Wars. The original game's mix of cutesy visuals, real-time combat and mild strategy action culminated in something of a sleeper towards the end of the Cube's lifetime. BWii promised to include everything that made the original great, plus a few new features to keep things interesting, but does it deliver?

Unlike its predecessor, BWii features a number of modes in addition to its single-player campaign, but we're going to begin by discussing the latter. The game begins with a prologue mission that actually takes place in the past, during what is referred to as the Lightning Wars – specifically a conflict between the Solar Empire and the Iron Legion. Players take command of the Solar Empire's forces (leg by Qa-Len) in a last-ditch attempt to prevent Lord Ferrok and his Iron Legion from conquering the world and so forth. The mission, though not without significant causalities, is a success, but players soon find themselves back in the present day where a new conflict threatens the world's fragile peace. And so begins a series of missions that spans multiple continents and puts players players in control of a number of different armies.

At the beginning of each mission players take control of one of the following: an infantry unit, a ground-based vehicle, an aircraft, or a naval unit. From then on it is possible to take control of other units as well as issue commands to them. The latter is achieved by pointing at a target using the Wii Remote, locking on with the Z button, and tapping A to either attack, capture or defend. Two more commands come in the form of wait and follow, which are both fairly self-explanatory. Of course, all of this must be done at the same time as controlling the player's main unit, which generally involves moving with the analogue stick, firing with the B trigger and strafing/rolling/jumping by shaking the Nunchuk. It all sounds quite complicated, but it actually works rather well. Unfortunately, there are a few problems you should probably be aware of.

Firstly, whilst selecting targets is mostly an intuitive endeavour -and we certainly can't imagine doing it without the Wii Remote- the game's third-person perspective (combined with limited camera control) can often make accurate selections troublesome. For example, because it is possible to lock onto both friendly and hostile units (as well as buildings), we often found ourselves issuing incorrect commands, such as 'wait' rather than 'attack', which you can probably imagine is somewhat detrimental to cohesive assaults on enemy strongholds! Selecting friendly units doesn't depend on the same system, instead relying on D-Pad navigation of on-screen HUD graphics, but it can also be just as fiddly when dealing with large amounts of units. Furthermore, the Nunchuk-dependant controls suffer from lacklustre motion-sensitivity which, although not the fault of the developers, ultimately meant that we steered clear of certain actions almost entirely.

All in all, though, BWii's control system works well, and the above criticisms are more like irritating niggles rather than game-killing oversights. So, let's move on the aforementioned strategy elements of the game. Just like Advance Wars (and its various sequels), BWii's combat relies on a paper-rock-scissors-esque system that allows the outcome of a battle to be predicted before combat has even begun. Anti-air vehicles will always best air units (unless severely outnumbered), bazooka veterans have the edge against most ground vehicles, and so on. The problem is, unlike the chess-like strategy involved in winning an intense Advance Wars mission, most BWii challenges ultimately come down to selecting the most appropriate units for a battle, sending them on their merry way and occasionally assigning new targets when previous ones have been dispatched. As a result of this, “common sense” might be a more accurate term than “strategy”.

Provided you have a modicum of common sense then, what is there to keep you entertained once you've zipped through the twenty, not-particularly-challenging campaign missions? Well, first of all there's a grading system: players are awarded either an 'S', 'A', 'B' or 'C' depending on how many units they dispatched, how many friendlies were kept alive, and how quickly the mission was completed. The 'S' ranks are particularly challenging to acquire, and will undoubtedly force players to play through each mission multiple times in order to come up with a game plan that satisfies all three criteria. Earning a complete set of high grades also unlocks a selection of hidden content including concept artwork, unit dossiers for the game's various factions, and so on, which should be a nice touch for the perfectionists amongst you. But more exciting than medals is the long-awaited online multiplayer functionality that fans of the original so strongly desired.

Three separate online modes are included; assault, skirmish and co-operative. The former pits players as against each other as one attempts to defend and the other attacks. A time-limit helps to keep things frantic right up until the final seconds. It's certainly an enjoyable diversion, and nicely complements the standard skirmish mode, which simply pits players (who each have access to a set number of gradually-respawning units) against each other. Last up is co-op, although it's probably not what you're expecting. Rather than allowing players to progress through the main campaign, four co-op-specific missions are presented instead. Each one features more enemy units than most single-player missions, forcing players to work together and use their specific units appropriately in order to succeed. Whilst the lack of voice chat does lead to encounters that feel somewhat impersonal, each of three mode's objectives are so simple that it doesn't really have much of an effect on gameplay, even if it does occasionally feel like you're playing against a bot... (which you never are, because there is no offline multiplayer).

Gameplay

A great selection of playable units helps to keep things interesting. The controls can be somewhat irksome on occasion (see: selecting units/issuing orders in quick succession, Nunchuk-based motion controls), but generally work well.

Graphics

Detailed models and impressive character animations compliment the cutesy visuals and varied backdrops to create a visually impressive title, even if there are a few frame rate and draw-distance issues here and there.

Sound

A surprisingly catchy piece of title music sets the tone for the game nicely, but some of the voice acting can be a little grating (can you say over-the-top cultural stereotypes?). The overall audio package is solid, though.

Value

The solo campaign isn't particularly challenging (unless you're going for 'S' grades/unlockables) and probably won't take you very long to get through, but a surprisingly competent online system should keep you coming back for more.

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Good - Bronze Award

About this score
Rated 7 out of 10

Playing through Battalion Wars 2 is ultimately an enjoyable experience, even if it is marred by a few fiddly control issues. The sheer variety of playable units combined with a lightweight, paper-rock-scissors-esque strategy component allows for simple fun without the intense learning-curve of a more sophisticated strategy title. Chuck in a decent -albeit flawed- online infrastructure, and you're looking at a game that could potentially provide hours of solid entertainment; just don't expect much in the way of a mental workout.

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05.03.2008

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Developer

Kuju

Publisher

Nintendo

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (53 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

I'm currently having a blast at this game. It's worth more to me than just a 7, at least 8 for me.

I think the control niggles are non-existent. With planes it is simply a matter of knowing you place the pointer and switch which are two different things. Once you know how, nothing's wrong...

Plus, am I the only one enjoying the online modes this much? More co-op would've been nice, but the maps (apart from the third one) reall allow for a free approach - a hell of a lot of fun.

Few games are as fun to play as this one, in my opinion. Has a lot more to it than meets the eye once you get used to sending each group different directions Smilie

I fail horribly though lmao!

I was torn between a final score of 7 or 8, and I can certainly see why you (and others) might consider it worthy of such a number, but it couldn't quite bring myself to go that high.

I'm not sure what you mean about the controls comment? It's not unit switching that was the problem per-se, but rather the fiddlyness of giving out multiple orders in quick succession. It's not always a problem, but it was definitely frustrating now and again.

Another example: on more than one occasion I found myself in control of a ground unit when the enemy suddenly launched an air assault. Due to the limited camera controls I had trouble looking up to select the enemies and send my anti-air units at them leaving me open to bombardment.

Ultimately I was be forced to swap to another unit with a better view of the battle and issue the commands from there, which, although it worked, didn't feel particularly fluid. I often found myself wishing for a top-down overview of the map which I could issue commands from (ala a more conventional strategy game).

Some sort of mass retreat command would have been nice too. But all in all it's a fun game, and one that I recommended people try out at some point if they get a chance. Oh, and my friend code is in my profile if anyone fancies a battle. Smilie


Cubed3 Staff < Retro Editor :: Previews Editor >
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Nice one Karn, sounds much better than I thought it would turn out Smilie Glad to see online coming into effect to, really needed it imo.

May just try this out sometime!

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

Such a huge F ing disappoint for me, I am huge lover of the first game. Unforgivable is what this is, it is shoddy work when you consider how much better a Wii sequel should be. This game fails with it\'s controls (speaks volumes) and it\'s lack of Voice Chat. It deserves a 7 and it is not worthy of a 8 imo.

I am actually hoping it sells terribly here in Europe so the idiots at Kuju get the message.

( Edited 06.03.2008 09:08 by Linkyshinks )

the camera movement has not been a problem to me. But that's mainly because you can make the bounding box small in your custom settings.

I understand the score though. And the review is good Smilie. I just don't agree with this being disappointing. It manages the fun factor to a brilliant level. I really don't see any control niggles (and that's coming from a usability expert here!) - if you want overview and total command than this is just not that type of game. Top down views would suck because it would loose the action aspect. I'm very glad it isn't there.

If you like rts play c&c. If like arcade shooters play Ghost squad. But see this for what it is, and not for what you're used to getting and seeing it is none of the previous. That's why I would've given an 8. It isn't perfect, but it's smooth. Just not like a rts game or a shooter, but like something in between.

Out-of-the-box thinking everyone, you're missing out!

Its funny how this seems to be a love it or hate title, personally its got its hooks in me and hasn\'t left the Wii disk slot in the last two weeks!

I finally got 100% last night and i loved every minute of it. my only complaint is the fighter handling but soon discovered its better to perch a grunt on a hilltop and remotely send in air-support.

its not often i disagree with anything Linkyshinks says, but for me its a Wii highlight with great humour and good presentation.

Takes me back to the first time i played \'cannon fodder\'.

Great review Karn, i would still give it an 8 though Smilie

now can somebody please add my Friendcode?
Smilie 262 120 599 339

( Edited 06.03.2008 13:41 by Shagster )


MKWii FC 4081-5636-6351 <<-- add me SSBB FC 2707-3062-7319 <<-- add me

ok i'll add ya bwii2 code. my bwii2 fc is 451-099-130-319, bwii profile name is Jazzy B. catch ya online sometime.

wii #, 0116-4755-0008-9273.
msc mii #, 326521-959456.

I returned the game back to ASDA,

I didn't like it, I did give it a couple of hours but in all honesty I was expecting more of a Command and Conquer (C & C) style game.

but if any one here wants to play Mario strikers against me check my friend code out and pm me yours, trust me I am good.

wii_mojo said:
ok i'll add ya bwii2 code. my bwii2 fc is 451-099-130-319, bwii profile name is Jazzy B. catch ya online sometime.
You have been well and truly added too.
Cheers


MKWii FC 4081-5636-6351 <<-- add me SSBB FC 2707-3062-7319 <<-- add me

Well I was surprised by this game.

After playing the original I thought the sequel would have been substantially better. Unfortunately it isn't but there is still a palpable improvement over the original. Like Karn said the controls are not game killing, just a little fiddly and annoying.

I personally really like the online play, shame there isn't VOIP as that would have made the online complete imo.

Overall a 7 is the right score as certain little issues prevent any higher a score.


Thanks for the comments guys. Smilie

I had never played the original, so I had a nice 'n clean slate on which to judge this, and it seems as though that was probably in my best interests... Sorry to hear it didn't live up to your expectations Linky.

@erv: The bounding box customisation was a nice touch, but it still wasn't enough to solve the little issue I kept encountering.

I've added your codes Jazzy and Shaggy, feel free to shoot me a PM next time you spot me online and I might just jump into a match with ya.


Cubed3 Staff < Retro Editor :: Previews Editor >

This looks like great fun, I'll probably end up getting up. Too bad the online is a bit limited.

Definetly a game that deservas an 8 or 8.5. I have just finished it this very moment after a week of playing. Great fun game, excelent design and art direction. Hopefully we'll get a sequel sometime soon.

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