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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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Gameplay: The Fun is in Multiplayer
Battlestations: Midway is a joy to play online against other players. There is a good reason why Feral released the demo as multiplayer only: it is more fun than single player. Online play is through the Mac-only Gameranger service. It is already a popular game online, the demo was holding down the #3 spot for most played as of this writing. The demo only allows one multiplayer level to be played, and hopefully all the people playing the demo will shell out $50 for the full game to enjoy the rest of the multiplayer levels in BSM.

Many of the criticisms of the game melt away in multiplayer: with human teammates there are fewer units to control, the predictable AI gives way for the most part to unpredictable human players, and each game is unique. You'll find your heart racing with excitement as you see your planes and ships match up head-to-head with an opposing player who has the same tools at his or her disposal.

The game is also very well balanced. Japanese airplanes (including the infamous Zero) are lightly armoured, fast, and maneuverable, while the American planes are slower but can take a real beating before being shot down. Likewise American ships tend to be more versatile and carry more armor but lack the hitting power of the Japanese ships. Setting the game in the first two years of the Pacific War made balancing the game easy since in real history the forces were quite evenly matched. For example, the main US Navy fighter plane at the time was the "Wildcat," the famous "Hellcat" didn't come until later.

My experiences playing both the demo and the full game online were quite good. It was relatively easy to find games, and the game doesn't seem to need low latency to be fun. This means that players in Australia can play with players from the USA and Europe without chatting "laaaaaag" all game long. One of the problems I did encounter were inexplicable errors in joining some games, the most common being a "Map Unavailble" error, and another being disconnected after about 2 minutes of play on some hosts.

I only have a few criticisms of the multiplayer game in BSM. Unfortunately this is an Intel-only port and will only run on Macs with dedicated graphics cards. This means that your friends who are still using PPC Macs are left out on this one (the flip side is that there are no PPC/ Intel incompatibilities that plague other Mac games). Also there are not many multiplayer maps, and most of them are drawn directly from the single player campaign. More maps would have been nice. There is also no custom-map option to expand the game in this direction.

Graphics
The graphics in this game are amazing. The port really shines and I did not experience a crash or problem with the game on the systems I tested it on. It looks awesome on my 2.8GHz iMac with Nvidia graphics, and it also looks great on my first generation MacBook Pro with Ati graphics. I turned up all the settings to maximum on my iMac, including 4x FSAA, and the game still plays as smooth as butter. The textures and effects are good, and the models are true to their real-life counterparts.

The graphics do a good job of pulling you into the game. The usual elements that remind you that you are playing a simple game are hard to find. For example, people man your guns, your propellers spin according to your speed, and bubbles spin through the water. Explosions cause splashes or dirt to be kicked up, and fires catch and spread. Damaged and destroyed weapons smoke, and fuel tanks will catch fire and explode. You'll also find yourself scanning the waves for the subtle wake of incoming torpedos.

The graphical performance of this game is a reminder of what a good Mac port is, and I felt like I was getting visually rewarded for playing this game.



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