|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Kuju Entertainment||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Nintendo||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 29, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Branden Barrett
Consoles definitely have not gotten their fair share of strategy titles over the last twenty years. When one thinks of the RTS genre, the first platform that comes to mind is usually the PC. Command and Conquer, WarCraft, StarCraft, and so on, have all established themselves as either iconic or just amazing strategy titles.
However, the other platform that comes to mind is the handheld, which usually houses a couple of strategy games itself. One in particular is the Advanced Wars games, which have come to be known as some of the greatest games on the Game Boy Advance and DS. Some may not be aware of this, but Battalion Wars is actually the console version of the quirky handheld series. With a little more emphasis on humor and action than strategy, Battalion Wars 2 is a step in the right direction for the series, but still isn't as definitive as it could have been.
With the lack of hot action titles for the Wii at the moment, Battalion Wars 2 was actually somewhat hyped unlike its predecessor. Though not a top tier title for the GameCube, the original was refreshing and brought about a unique take on the strategy genre. The problem with the original though was the real lack of depth in the unit control department. Units could be controlled, but there was very little that you could actually do with them. Battalion Wars 2 gives players a lot more freedom and the chance to constantly switch between land, air, and water unit types. From tanks and jeeps to battleships and air strike planes, the vehicles are diverse and plenty, giving every action game enthusiast the kind of fun they're always looking for. No matter what the genre though, a game always has to start from the beginning.
Probably the biggest improvement from the first game in the series is the well told story. Unlike the previous Battalion Wars which kind of just threw you in the midst of battle, Battalion Wars 2 provides an interesting background to what is actually happening in the lands of Xylvania. Basically, the title begins the story about 200 years before you actually take control of your army. At that time, a war was being waged between the Solar Empire and the Iron Legion of Old Xylvania. Why? Well, the game doesn't really divulge in the details of the conflict, but it seems to be over the possession of an ultimate weapon. And it is that weapon, the Staff of Qa-Len, which caused the war to end in favor of the Empire. Fast forward 200 years later. You are now in control of the Solar Empire and must fight off the same Xylvanians that threatened them all those years ago. Funny how things always come full circle.
Another highlight of Battalion Wars 2 is that you can play the game from multiple perspectives. Up to six factions can be played as you progress through the campaign, with each having their own unique vehicles, units, and weaponry. For example, one division may have more infantry, while another may specialize in naval combat. Depending on the mission and group you are controlling, you will have to make the correct decisions on how to approach the opposition. Speaking of which, battles play out like a rock-paper-scissors showdown. Tanks and other ground vehicles have advantage over infantry and building structures, but are at a disadvantage against anti-tank and air units. On the other hand, special units like the fighter jets and anti-air missiles are generally only useful against one or two combat types. Learning what is and what isn't useful when facing different scenarios is really the highlight of the strategic portion of the game.
This generally means that while the title is classified as a strategy game, it really isn't where the primary focus of the game lies. Though you will have command over a specific number of units depending on the mission, there isn't really a whole lot of micromanagement to be done. As the commander of your squadron, you will have the ability to take full control over any particular piece on the proverbial playing board. Whether it is a rifleman, rocket unit, helicopter, or battleship, jumping between troops and war vehicles is the primary task you will be doing. While you are in the drivers' seat, you will have up to four options you can give to your other men: wait, follow, attack, and defend. If you do not give an order while you are in control of a particular unit, your clan mates will generally be in a passive-aggressive state that will attack anything that engages them. And while this will be enough for the pawns, larger units will basically overrun them. All in all, the difficulty is fairly balanced and the game gives you enough hints and instructions to stay on top of things.
New to the Battalion Wars line is the inclusion of underwater battles, which are a personal favorite of mine. From enormous battleships and tiny gun-ships to the dynamic submarine, the water based confrontations of Battalion Wars 2 make for some of the best fights in the game. The reason for this is because unlike other strategy titles, the battles take place in real time. Even though uncontrolled units will be more of a point and click affair, infantry and battle vehicles under your command can approach, dodge, and fire with little delay. Thus, unlike in games like Command and Conquer, timing is a major factor and can be the difference between victory and a humiliating defeat. Yet if there is one aspect of the game that falters a bit' it is the control scheme. Units are controlled with the Nunchuk's analog stick and can fire with the combination of the Z and B button. It is possible to try and aim at units with the Wii-mote, but the approach is not nearly accurate enough to be of any use. Also, like with other games, the Nunchuk's motion controls are a bit overly sensitive. For example, twitching the Nunchuk up will cause the soldier to jump, while turning it left or right will force him to roll. While it is good that companies are making use of the unique features of the Wii's controller, a lot of commands could be executed so much easier with just the push of a button.