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Genre: Strategy & War
Min OS X: 10.4    CPU: Intel @ 1800 MHz    RAM: 512 MB    Hard Disk: 4300 MB    DVD-ROM    Graphics: 128 MB VRAM

Battlestations: Midway
October 6, 2008 | Jacob Beaton

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Planes fly overhead, and anti-aircraft guns pound away desperately trying to shoot them down before they drop their bombs and torpedoes on your precious ships. As your eyes move from the skies to the water you notice no less than 6 torpedo wakes less than 300 meters away. Your cruiser won't be able to move in time. You switch to your destroyer and go to full throttle and bring it broadside to the torpedos. Six splashes and your damage meter starts dropping precariously, so you switch to damage control and try to stop the water from pouring into your hull. You are too late and the destroyer sinks, leaving you with just your crusier. You spot some enemy battleships closing on the horizon, and seeing that you are completely outgunned, you abandon your cruiser and switch to your map. You hurriedly select your airfield and launch three sorties of torpedo bombers and order them all to attack the enemy battleships in hopes of crippling them before they get close enough to shell your airfield.

This is a slice of the action in Battlestations: Midway (BSM), the latest port to come out of U.K.-based Feral Interactive. Battlestations Midway is a war strategy/arcade-style action game hybrid set in the early years of the Pacific Theatre in WWII. BSM creates something fresh by combining genres that are usually kept separate, and ties them together in an immersive game environment that will be addictive to some and very frustrating to others. For people that love both the exhilaration of flying a plane through AA fire to drop a bomb, or slipping up on the hull of an enemy battleship in a sub, and the brooding of planning unit movements and deployments on a strategic map, this game is a dream come true. In a nutshell this game is very fun for those of us that love action and real-time strategy, and as a bonus it is an excellent Mac port that won't leave you feeling like a second-class citizen.

While BSM does create a new gaming experience, it doesn't totally break new ground. It feels related to games like the Battlefield series, Savage, and sims like the classic Hellcats: Over the Pacific. BSM is a fresh entry in the crowded WWII games arena and definitely deserves your consideration if you like playing real-time strategy, action, or WWII games.

Battlestations: Midway is set in the early years of the Pacific Theater of WWII. The game starts with Imperial Japan's (IJN) strike on Pearl Harbor and runs to the turning point of the war at the Battle of Midway. For those of you who are a little rusty on your WWII history, Japan carried the war for most of this phase and the USA spent 1941 and 1942 retreating and on the defensive until the decisive US Navy victory at Midway. In single player mode you play mostly as Henry Walker, a navy man who begins by defending at Pearl Harbor in a PT boat and ends up commanding the battle at Midway. The story is told through rendered cutscenes sliced in between missions. I am sure the developers intended for the cutscenes to immerse you in the story, but they are more likely to make you laugh or cry at the lame lines and bad acting. Luckily, the story doesn't stop you from having fun and enjoying the action.

The bottom line is that the story isn't what makes this game fun. It is the gameplay and the immersive action. It seems obvious that the story was largely an afterthought, and the developers probably thought "we want to make a really cool WWII game" first and then after they were done they thought "OK, now we need some kind of story line to tie this all together."

The storyline can also been played through quite quickly by an experienced player, and is made up of only 11 levels. Each level can be played at rookie, regular, or hardened difficulty level, and there are a variety of strategies to win each level that offer replayability.


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