Battalion Wars 2 Impressions

More than anything else, Battalion Wars 2 feels like developer Kuju taking a second attempt at a formula that worked pretty well in the original 2005 GameCube game but wasn't explosively received. A Kuju staffer once told me that Battalion Wars was his favorite thing the company had ever done, and it's easy to see why. It has more personality than most of the company's prior work, and it has an appealing look and feel married to a fun, accessible gameplay concept--it just didn't seem to have all that much lasting appeal once you've taken in those core elements.

Thus, Battalion Wars 2, with its online competitive and cooperative play, tweaked gameplay, pointer-based aiming, boosted visuals, and addition of seafaring units. The game now runs in 16:9 with progressive scan, and everything looks a little cleaner before, but it's tough to get a sense of how its finer points differ from those of its predecessor, since the only mode available for play at the event was an online head-to-head skirmish--no online co-op and no single-player, despite those seeming likely to be the most-desirable modes to play.

The new Wii remote-based control scheme works well. Movement is controlled with the nunchuk's analog stick, and jumping is triggered with a quick shake of the nunchuk. You can aim your current weapon with the pointer, or hold a lock on a selected enemy; free aiming actually works better in most cases, since you'll generally have to lead your shots. As in the original game, you can jump into control of any friendly unit at any time, be it an infantryman, bazooka-wielding trooper, tank, or anything else. You can give tactical instructions to individual units or your overall force, retaining the original game's blend of action with light strategy.

This all worked very well, and the controls can be internalized in about a minute, but given the incredibly narrow range of the game being showcased it is difficult to get a sense for how the package works as a whole. The online component seemed to work as well as one would expect, with the option to search for games according to specific criteria or join up with a buddy; friend codes are still present, but that is no surprise at this point. Hopefully, Kuju's list of additions and improvements makes for a solid game all around, and there's no reason they shouldn't, it's simply tough to gain any broad perspective from the one gametype and map Nintendo had on tap last week.

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