previews\ Oct 20, 2007 at 8:00 pm

Battalion Wars II - WII - Preview

E for All 2007 Preview

The first Battalion Wars didn’t work. It was a nice idea – create a fast-action shooter without blood and gore, making it accessible to all audiences. But sometimes you have to crash before crossing the finish line. Luckily for game developers, they don’t need airbags – or car insurance – to pull it off.

If nothing else, Battalion Wars II is a potential success for having one of the best control mechanics in a Wii shooter. The game is instantly engaging and responsive – two things you don’t usually think of when playing a Wii shooter (Metroid Prime 3 excluded). Metroid worked because it had a little bit of stiffness to the camera movement, which helped keep the game balanced. BTII is completely free-roaming, just like a PC shooter. And yet, despite the numerous times I dodged tanks, strafed around opponents and spun my crosshairs around looking for new targets, the game never tanked. It didn’t have that sticky, obnoxious feeling of last year’s launch titles. The game is completely smooth – very close to what I had envisioned when the Wii was first announced. This alone makes Battalion Wars – set to arrive just before Halloween – worth a rental.

Battalion Wars II Wii screenshots

The rest of the features could prove to be worth something more. Gameplay was limited to multiplayer combat at the show between just two players, but the full game will also contain a single-player campaign. Online play gives you and your friends the chance to settle your differences in an environment that doesn’t mimic Halo (who knew that was possible!?). Worlds are about as bright as any Nintendo game, and though the graphics are covered in jaggies, the frame rate stayed consistent throughout the battle.

BTII’s characters are the little military men from the previous game. I’m not sure of what the story behind them is, but one thing to note is that it appears you can now guide your army with the D-pad. I couldn’t get the feature to work, but my team did follow me from time to time, and when you press the A button, you’ll hear one of Pikmin’s most notable sound effects.

Battalion Wars II Wii screenshots

Tank control is awesome and deadly. Players can hop in these powerful beasts, fire its cannon or run over opponents, killing them instantly. The squashing effect is blood-free, but still more violent than you’d expect from a Nintendo game. Again, the mechanics are dead-on. These developers have a wonderful grasp on what it takes to make a Wii shooter work. Their next task should be to team up with Metroid Prime’s developers and school the rest of our industry on how to get this right.

Launching October 29, Battalion Wars II looks like a winner for those in need of something to keep them busy until Mario Galaxy’s November 12 release.

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