Strategy & War
A mission might have you controlling a variety of units from aircraft carriers and destroyers to subs and fighter planes. Youíll need to position your battleships to protect your carrier, maneuver your subs to cripple enemy ship defenses, launch fighters from your carrier to provide air support and send your bombers (hopefully with some escort) to tackle the enemyís ships. And at any point, you can just hop from ship to ship artillery battles into your fighter planes securing the airspace over your carriers, or your bombers getting ready to dive-bomb an enemy destroyer. Donít worry, whatever youíre not controlling, the computer looks after, including any weapons that you donít currently have selected. Manning your anti-aircraft guns? Donít worry, the computerís on the artillery. Taking something out from long range? Itís cool, those torpedoes you were just thinking about are already on the way to the target.
You can also, on the fly, create and break up control groupings that will all follow similar orders. The interface for this is simple an intuitive, with quick HUD settings to adjust quickly and smoothly without breaking up the action. Even shifting to the map screen doesnít pause the action, since the AI just picks up carrying out what you were just doing. When aircraft are damaged, they just go downÖ but on top of everything else, you need to manage the upkeep of your naval vessels as you go. Again, this is from a slick, simple arcade interface where you assign sailors on your ships to focus on certain areas of repair, be it engines or leaks or fire control or munitions repair.
Add it all up and you get a frantic, dynamic but still totally friendly gaming experience. If at any point the AI didnít pick up smoothly and take care of business, Iím sure I would have felt overwhelmed, but I came to depend on my little artificial buddy. Artillery fire can be tricky. Thanks, MacBook Pro, for peppering my enemy with an accurate bombardment while I angle our ship to bring our guns to a point of maximum efficiency.
Iíd love to talk to you about the multiplayer component of the game, but as tends to be the fate with advance copies, I was unable to. Youíll get your internet gaming via GameRanger, but at the time of this writing, the only available on-line options were with the Midway demo. After I downloaded the 700MB beast (plus GameRanger, which is a separate download), I was unable after numerous tries to join in to any network games available. Every time I tried, they were in progress and I could not join. Alas.
Battlestations Midway is in some ways WW2-lite. Youíre not going to get the gritty, plodding reality of WW2 combat that many titles will offer. You will not find tense, drawn out sub dances here. This is pounding, fast and fierce battle on all fronts against some pretty impressive enemy numbers. Itís simplified controls and battle charts that show you the sort of rock-paper-scissors breakdown of ďthis unit is strong versus this other unitĒ of pure arcade action. If youíve got a poster on your wall showing the precise production schematic of a Panzer tank, maybe youíll have some beef with this title. But if you want to see tons of historically accurate vehicle models duking it out on a pretty epic scale, then Battlestations Midway is a game that should, forgive me this one pun, be on your radar.