Nov 1, 2007
Like its predecessor, Battalion Wars 2 is an action/RTS hybrid, similar to PC titles such as Savage. Instead of players assuming the role of General from a bird's-eye view, they are able to control their grunts, flamethrowers, anti-air tanks, bazookas or a number of other units that roam the field of battle. Controlling units, as well as performing other actions such as attacking, issuing orders and raising flags to assume control of mission objectives would require an elegant control scheme to maintain proper control of so many available actions. In this, Battalion Wars 2 delivers, though only to a degree.
Controlling units is accomplished via both the Nunchuk and Wii Remote. Moving a unit forward and backward, as well as strafing, is done with the analog stick, and camera control is handled by moving the Wii Remote. Each unit type, such as light tanks and artillery, is automatically grouped together, and switching between these groups is accomplished by pressing left and right on the d-pad. Should players wish to assume control of a flamethrower unit, they need only select the Flame group using the d-pad and press and hold the A button. An icon will appear over the random flame unit the player has been given, making it easier to denote the player's particular unit on the often tumultuous battlefield, and firing is mapped to the B trigger.
Despite the intricate setup, each command is easy to execute one at a time. But when the battlefield begins to teem with dozens of units, the control scheme begins to fall apart. It's just too complicated in a heated firefight. Even more annoying is the fact that you activate many commands using an onscreen cursor, and yet, the development team didn't allow more elements such as the different unit groups - lined up along the bottom of the screen - to be clickable. Why not? Surely moving the cursor to "Grunts" and pressing A or B would have been easier than forcing us to shuffle through every available group. Would it not have been simpler to allow the cursor to actually function as a pointer?
Battalion Wars 2's campaign is more for learning the controls and idiosyncrasies of the gameplay more than it is about telling a compelling story. There's a story there somewhere, but for the most part, it's very incoherent, with missions that feature disjointed objectives and have almost nothing to do with the mission that succeeded or preceded them.
Multiplayer is this game's saving grace, and doubtless the core part of the game with which most players will spend the greatest amount of time. Three modes are available, most of which revolve around wanton destruction. In multiplayer, each player only has control of certain units, which ups the strategy factor by forcing players to cooperate. In one session, we had control of grunts, flames and light tanks, while our partner had his own set of troops. Since the only unit able to make a dent in a tank's armor is our pal's bazooka squad, we had to call it out and hope he decides to obey the request. Pressing 2 accepts such a request made by another player - a simple addition that makes teamwork much, much easier (though voice chat would have been better).
Graphically, Battalion Wars 2 is a fun, colorful romp, though given the Wii's hardware, player shouldn't expect too much. Sunsets paint beaches and oceans gorgeous shades of orange, while thunderstorms snap and crackle overhead as players charge through the overgrowth toward one objective or the other. The game is pretty, but not too much of an improvement over the GameCube original.
Despite its overly complex control scheme, Battalion Wars 2 is, like many games, one that becomes immensely enjoyable after learning its ins and outs. Allowing the Wii remote to more closely simulate a computer mouse would have increased the game's fun factor even more, but after spending enough time on the game's campaign, gamers are encouraged to delve into multiplayer, where the price tag pays for itself over and over again.