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Battleship Review

by Dean James

Board games were the original indoor multiplayer option that saw people gathering around a table for hours of fun. The original Battleship is still one of the most iconic of all, largely due to its famous “you sunk my battleship” phrase, so there was no surprise when a version of the game was released on systems like the NES and SNES. The series has been dormant on consoles outside of the abysmal movie-based game, but now Hasbro has brought it back with the modernized, but still classically named Battleship.

Battleship at its simplest is a one on one battle between opposing players that each control five different ships that they must place in a typically 10×10 grid. The two players then alternate turns calling out a space to fire at, with the opposing player replying with “hit” or “miss,” depending on if it lands on a spot. The only real variety in playing the game over the years has been the different placement of the ships, but now Frima Studio and Ubisoft have taken the core gameplay of the original and put a new spin on it.

Throughout the fairly limited number of game modes in Battleship, there are two different play styles you can choose from that are known as Classic and Clash At Sea. There will be absolutely no surprises found with the Classic playstyle, as it is literally the exact same experience players will be used to from playing Battleship in the past. This is something they obviously had to include in the game, but the pace of the game actually makes it feel way slower and more monotonous than ever.

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What is much more intriguing is the Clash At Sea mode that improves upon the classic gameplay to turn it into even more of a strategy game. There were obviously strategies in the original style with the placement of ships and where to attack based on past experience, but Clash At Sea not only has the basic attack move, but also special abilities that your remaining ships can utilize.

Regardless of the version you are playing, you will have control of five ships in your fleet, including the Patrol Boat, Submarine, Destroyer, Battleship, and Carrier, which gradually increase in the number of spaces they take up. In Clash At Sea matches however, each player also have resources that are signified by white and red pieces. The white resources can be used for detection techniques, while red are focused on actually attacking.

At the start of each bout, both players will start off with a set number of white and red resources and will then gain three more of each for each turn. You can just spend one white to detect if a space is holding part of a ship, while you can spend one red to actually attack a space. This means that, unlike the Classic gameplay, you can attack more than once each turn if you wish. However, the game requires a lot more planning as you can instead save up resources for higher level abilities.

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Each of the five types of ships in your fleet have two abilities that can be used, such as the Submarine’s white ability for six that targets a 3×4 zone and detects 10 random spaces within that area, or the Destroyer’s red ability for five that shoots a mine that if you then hit separately will attack all 9 coordinates in the 3×3 zone the mine is within. The only problem is that some of these abilities are a little too similar, such as the Submarine’s red ability and the Carrier’s white ability being basically the same except for the detecting versus attacking part.

Livelier than ever

The different abilities that you will be mixing in manage to make the game of Battleship feel much livelier than ever, but even this style of play is somewhat hindered by the game’s slow pace, though not as badly as Classic. Battleship matches have always had the possibility of running long, but the unskippable animations that take way too long really prolong each game much more than it should. On top of that, there is no way at all to skip your enemy’s turn, so you will be forced to watch each and every move that they make. This can really start to drag the later into a game if they have been hoarding resources throughout the match. Though not quite as lengthy as the enemy turns that a game like Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. had at launch, the game really needs a skip animation option, since it really doesn’t affect what you will be doing on your turn at all.

Battleship offers a few different game modes for you to play, though a few of them are very similar. Players do have the option to just choose Classic or Clash at Sea and play against the computer or a friend locally, or they can also take the game online as well to play friends or random opponents. The game also offers a tutorial that is informative while not being overbearing and too long, which is vital for anyone that has not been introduced to the new ship abilities.

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The biggest single player attraction in Battleship though is the game’s campaign. This mode features 30 missions that are mostly distinct from one another, including some unique situations such as being ambushed and starting a level with less ships than the opponent or not being able to use abilities at all, with a majority of them utilizing the different fleets in the game. Beyond the game’s basic Military fleet, there are also Orc, Tech, and Pirates fleets, though the latter must be unlocked through Ubisoft Club. These have the exact same ships and abilities, but they do differ in their rate of fire, power, and accuracy ratings.

The Verdict

Battleship is one of the original board games and has managed to stand the test of time over the years, though it has been awhile since a true video game adaptation has been released. While the speed of the game could definitely be improved due to time consuming animations, Frima Studio has managed to reinvigorate the core gameplay of one of the most recognizable board games by adding more strategy than ever in the new Battleship.

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Battleship

  • Available On: Xbox One
  • Published By: Ubisoft
  • Developed By: Frima Studio
  • Genre: strategy
  • US Release Date: August 2nd, 2016
  • Reviewed On: Xbox One
  • Quote: "Battleship is one of the original board games and has managed to stand the test of time over the years, and now Frima Studio has managed to reinvigorate its core gameplay by adding more strategy than ever."
Review Policy

The Good

  • Ship abilities
  • campaign has variety
  • multiple play styles

The Bad

  • lengthy animations
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