Strategy & War
World War 2 is, clearly, an endless well of gaming. I would try to give you some fancy statistic about the total percentage of games released every year that fall into this genre (because itís not just a setting for a game anymoreÖ itís a genre unto itself), but Iím not sure computer processing power can handle the teraflops needed to get that data complete by the time I turn this preview in.
The thing about popular and even over-visited genres, though, is that they attract the heavy hitters and that means that among the sea of titles there are certain to be some real gems, and other such mixed metaphors. Thusly, Feral Interactive and Eidos bring us Battlestations Midway.
WW2 games span all sorts. You have your first person shooters, your turn based strategy, your real-time strategy, your in-depth simulators and on and on. Battlestations Miday, though, decides to bust down the genre barrier and hit us with a real-time strategy arcade air/naval simulator. I donít know what that says to you, but to me this combination is a siren song.
Framed loosely by a plot centering around a couple of naval men advancing their careers through the battles of the Pacific theater in WW2, Battlestations Midway brings you WW2, arcade style. Through a series of increasingly complex missions, youíll control single units and eventually small fleets as you strike at and defend critical targets throughout the South Pacific.
The game allows you to get in the cockpit of a variety of WW2 aircraft, helm a variety of WW2 naval vessels and, if I can make the distinction between naval vessels and subs, captain submarines. You can interact with the game from a totally basic map screen view, directing units to attack and move around the zone of engagementÖ or you can literally jump from unit to unit, carrying out the critical moments of your attack. You can even strike a middle ground and just motor around, in the thick of things but letting the AI handle the heavy lifting. Battlestations Midway really can be made into the game you want it to be.
Controls in the game are simple, allowing you to jump between units types easily in battle without being too jarring an experience. Airplanes are simply controlled with mouse movement, controls for throttle, primary and secondary fire and a way to change weapons. Itís very basic, which is where the arcade distinction comes into play. Youíre not going to be staring down a complex instrument panel. Similarly, boats are just direction and speed and firing. Subs are speed and depth. Thereís not much to keep track of, which is good, because the pacing here is not deliberate and tense. Itís in your face and urgent.