A black hole, sucking the fun out of space combat
If something looks familiar about Battlestar Galactica that's probably because it's a re-hash of Mace Griffin's space shooter levels. Traditional dogfight and search and destroy missions are the meat and potatoes, and as a result the game lacks variety and originality.
Several enhancements have been made over Mace, not least that there are three externals views of your Viper attack ship as well as a cockpit camera. Vehicle interiors are rather static, even the Cylon Raider where you'd expect flashing panels and Knightrider-style strobes. Another new feature is the Panzer Dragoon Orta-style missile lock, allowing you to target up to four enemies at once in two-second intervals. This is well conceived and often lifesaving, especially when you're being attacked by up to 40 enemies at once. Battlestar's blitzkriegs are pleasingly frantic at first, but a fatal flaw appears when mission objectives disrupt the carnage.
Critical targets like a fuel tanker or an escaping enemy aren't targeted automatically, so you often have to cycle through 20 Cylon Raiders before you find them. By this point the time limit has usually expired, forcing a painful restart. Even worse, critical targets don't show up differently on the radar. They're impossible to spot amongst a nebulous blob of red dots.
This is just one example of the game's high levels of artificial difficulty, painfully wringing more longevity out of a meagre 16 levels. Another infuriating scenario is found in the opening level. After ten minutes of nailing Cylon raiders, you're instructed to blow up a meteorite. It's only after you've completed this task that you're warned to keep out of the blast radius. Unless you were already a great distance away, it's impossible to retreat in time and you have to restart the level.
There's no subtlety here, particularly in the Cylon stealth mission. If you fail to fly in perfect formation with the Cylon Raiders you die instantly. Surely it would have been better to penalise by making the enemies attack in greater numbers? Instead, you're forced to play the tired old level right from the start. To make things worse, the mission briefings and cutscenes are so ambivalent that you often won't know what to do until you've been incinerated three or four times. Even with all this frustration, the game can still be completed in less than two days' play.
Even the licence is clumsily handled. Original actors Dirk Benedict and Richard Hatch provide voiceovers, but strangely not for Starbuck and Apollo, the characters they played in the TV series. FMV sequences are blurry and Adama bears no resemblance to Lorne Green. Battlestar Galactica was always doomed to play second fiddle to Star Wars and this does nothing to turn the tables.
- Multiple vehicles
- The Cylons
- Licence poorly handled
- Artificial difficulty
- Flawed Missile Lock
- Restarting levels from the beginning
Spaceships soar smoothly and the Tevels look great. Cockpit interiors should have been animated.
Presentation is poor. FMV videos tell most of the story but they're very grainy and lacking in detail.
As soon as you begin to feel involved, the game throws you a frustrating curve ball objective.
You'll finish it in two days and the unlockable extras aren't enough enticement to replay each level.
Overall Any glimmer of potential has been banished to the outer cosmos by unforgiving mission objectives and unfair deaths.