Battleships Forever is an action-packed strategy game with a lot of depth, but also some glaring design flaws.
This game really broke my heart in a lot of ways. There’s incredible, unquestionable potential here. The action is compelling, the real-time strategy (RTS) is intense, and there’s just enough to play around with in this game to make it enjoyable. However, some of the finer touches that need to be in place to make it a shining product are just not there.
Batttleships Forever has two main modes: Skirmish and Career. Career is your standard RTS campaign, serving to ease you into the experience and teach you about this very complex game. Skirmish is more arcade shoot-em-up type of play, with endless waves, a monster space station, and even the option to play as the bad guys all featured in the sub-challenges.
You have three classes of ships from the tiny patrol ships, to middling but powerful destroyers, to the awesome titular battleships. Each group has several models to choose from with different features and configurations designed for varying styles of play. One battleship is made with large front-facing walls that maintain invulnerability shields to provide a buffer for the rest of your fleet, while another may be nothing but a can covered in guns made to broadside opponent with brutal efficiency.
Gameplay in Battleships Forever is akin to a lot of the sea-combat games out there like Sid Meier’s Pirates or Leviathan Warships. Your aim for most of the game is determining the best positioning in order to balance defense, offensive capability, and future maneuvers once the enemy starts to take evasive action. Overall the gameplay is largely neat and refreshing, giving a different take to a more traditional sort of nautical combat simulation.
However, there are some significant defects that hold the game back from being a major breakthrough. The granularity of being able to select individual ship sections and weaponry to either defend with or target makes for a lot of misclicks. Your average battleship has well over 20 pieces that are hidden in layers of neon wireframe, and picking the strut connecting to a major turret bay is difficult even if you manage to zoom all the way in and focus on one ship. While the zoom function is handy for these situations, the real problem is the interface itself which feels sluggish and unresponsive, especially when you constantly need to jostle the camera around to make quick decisions.
And for the main sidebar: never have I seen such a brilliantly blinding neon green. I hope you don’t need detailed information on your ship, your equipment, your abilities or your target, because trying to pick out anything resembling text on that awful white-on-chartreuse menu will slowly eat away at your retinas as you go. A definite design no-no.
Despite its flaws, Battleships Forever is certainly worth playing. It’s a fun experiment in expanding the complexity of the space-borne RTS, taking some old formulas and combining them into a fun little package. With the capability to also create custom ships and campaign missions it has everything you’d need to make a really rock solid title. But without some attention to detail this game will simply be enjoyable, not exceptional.
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