" Nothing pisses me off more than a game that doesn't try hard enough and Battlecry definitely falls into that category. "
Title: Robotech: Battlecry by TDK Mediactive
Format: Xbox Action Shooter
Reviewing Monkey: Our Ape Masters
The Hype: For almost 20 years we've waited for it- and now it's finally here. Based on the incredibly popular American anime from the early 80's, Robotech: Battlecry drops you head long into the Robotech universe. Essentially a 3rd person action game, Battlecry puts you in the pilot's seat of a Veritech- the 30 foot tall shape changing robots that all but defined the giant bot combat concept, and pit you in battle against aliens intent on destroying human life.
What This Monkey Thought...
Graphics: It's impossible to argue with the fact that Battlecry is a pretty game. Bright colors, vivid shading, celled animation, and modeled art make the game not only fantastic to look at but also completely reminiscent of the old show. The ambiance compared to the show is perfect- sharing everything from the look of guns firing and explosions…um…exploding to the color schemes and movement styles. My only real gripe is the lack of proper transformation animations but in the bigger picture that's fairly easily ignored. Hands down it remains one of my favorite games to "watch". 4 out of 5
Sound: Much like the animations, the sound effects and even the voice talents (complete with baaaad acting) from the show make appearances. Actually, they're directly ported so if you enjoyed the sound of the show you'll enjoy the sound of the game. The only real drag was the presence of several newly mixed and composed audio tracks that, quite frankly, sounded like my little cousin the wanna-be mixer got a hold of them. They definitely would have been better off sticking with the myriad of music the show had to offer. 4 out of 5
Playability: So you've got a great concept
based on a fantastic intellectual property that is just itching to be turned
into a game. And what do you do? That's right- muck up the game play so much
it chokes a donkey. Actually, the most amusing part is that I couldn't help
thinking that there was a sharp connection between the game and the show- that
connection being they both seemed to have been seeded 20 years ago. It's absolutely
amazing the anachronisms Battlecry brings back to life. So many, in fact, that
you'll have flashbacks to playing the original X-Wing on your old 486.
Let's start with the levels, far and away the most frustrating part, which are tiny and wrought with invisible borders and boundaries. Why the hell you would make a game where you play a fighter plane and instill invisible ceilings, and low invisible ceilings at that, is beyond me. But, sure enough, if a level in Battlecry is set in a canyon or city you can look forward to hours upon hours of frustration at trying to figure out what the maximum altitude (well below the roof of the canyon walls- what would amount to about 300 feet) is and why your Veritech just suddenly stopped when you were flying into what looked like an open direction. Compacting this folly is the ridiculous collision system they worked out- run into something (including these invisible ceilings) and your mode automatically shifts from the fighter plane to a giant robot that can't fly (well, not well at any rate). So literally hundreds of times you will be dog fighting on a mission to suddenly find yourself changing into the least effective mode for the situation and then get to wrestle with the controls to change back.
Oh and, while we're on the subject of controls, let's look at another lovely bit of archaic design: the controls in Battlecry are totally and completely non-adjustable. No, I don't mean they only give you certain configurations you can choose from (which is bad enough), I mean that they can't be changed. Nope. Nadda. You're stuck! When I first saw this I almost returned it thinking there was something wrong with my copy but no- there is no customization at all… And I know, for a fact, that I'm not the only Monkey who hated the way the controls are configured by default…but oh well. You're stuck. Which may officially make it the first flight game to come out on any system later than the old NES that doesn't let you figure out how you want the buttons to be. Unbelievable.
But don't worry kids, it gets worse. Because to keep you from worrying about how bad the controls are you'll have the ridiculous, unbelievable, horrendous play-it-perfect-or-restart missions the likes of which I haven't seen in well over a decade. On almost half the missions you will have a very specific objective (usually to keep something alive) and that objective will be the only thing the enemy cares about doing. They won't care about how many of them you kill, or anything else that is going on in the world. If your mission is to keep "Hiro" alive, the only thing the bad guys will care about is to make Hiro dead, regardless of how much sense it makes. And since this is an 80's throwback game you will be taking all the bad guys on alone (a la "Russin' Assault") and the odds will be ridiculous. Fortunately for you, there is one magic way you can get through the mission (some trick or certain style of play) and since the bad guys will always spawn in the same places and attack the same ways your goal is to replay the level over and over and over and over and over again until you've figured out the pattern, tried all the other options, and have finally settled on just the right solution to make it all work. There's no room for ingenuity, skill, or improvisation- Battlecry is completely and totally about doing what the game designers want you to do at any moment in time otherwise you will lose the level and restart post haste. And while this would be unforgivable in any Xbox game regardless, it's made even more heinous by the fact that the game touts its supposedly impressive "change modes at any time" transformer player character. The reason this is frustrating, simply enough, that no less than ¾ of the time you will really only be able to use one of the modes to beat a given level effectively so the rest become little more than decoration. I bet in the entire game there was only 5 or 6 times being able to change modes was fun rather than just the obligatory thing I had to do to beat the level and move on.
And the list goes on and on. It also suffers from some serious control response issues, a sniper mode that is mandatory but worthless (and complete with ballistic rifle that does more damage zoomed in), a non-existent physics engine, and ridiculously dated enemy AI, but I've ranted long enough already. You get the picture, and the picture isn't good.
The only good it really offers- and at least it's a pretty big good, is the anime-style action that Battlecry is chock full of. Constant fire fights, auto tracking guns, and lightening fast engagements will make you feel like you're actually in the show. Unfortunately, every time you start to get really excited about it one of the many problems will rear its ugly head and make you forget about the fun you just had. 3 out of 5
Multiplayer and Replayability: There is a multiplayer mode- that's the good news. The bad is that it's "unlockable" deathmatch play, which I just despise. If you're going to give me multiplayer just give it to me, don't make me beat parts of the bloody game to get it. All that really does is make sure that, unless everyone you want to play has and has beat the game, you will be completely dominant of anyone you ever get to play with. As for Replayability, it comes in the form of 2-player deathmatch (which, aside from the unlockable aspect, isn't great anyway) and unlocking new items, mecha, and paint jobs. I went ahead and got most everything because…well, I had too- and found that with the notable exception of the Super Veritech (an extensively armored version of your robot) it was all listless. 3 out of 5
Story/Dramatics: Following the "great
premise so we don't need an actual game" motif Battlecry sets is the story.
For those of you familiar with the Robotech universe, the game is set, loosely,
in the Malcontent Uprisings and completely skirts around the actual story from
the show. Unfortunately, rather than just being set in the uprisings, or having
a story all to itself, it tries to be a "remember when" kind of a game that
highlights major events from the series regardless of chronology and connects
them with campy, 80's-esque "Save your friend who's too stupid to save himself"
and "killing is bad" story shorts. It's completely unsatisfying.
As for those of you who aren't in the know, the story will simply make no sense. It's a jump around, poorly developed, non-existent arc that you'll end up just skipping through since it will confuse you anyway. Why a game based on a TV SHOW can't come up with a decent plot astounds me… 3 out of 5
|Nothing pisses me off more than a game that doesn't try hard enough and Battlecry definitely falls into that category. It would have taken so little additional effort to make this an amazing game and they were certainly off to a good start. Unfortunately, haphazard missions, ridiculously dated level design, and some down right unforgivable gameplay ruin any chance this has of being a good game. You will definitely spend more time yelling at the scream and wanting to hurl you controller than you do smiling.|
The Good: Robotech's back with some pretty kick ass graphics and free transforming mecha.
The Bad: Unfortunately that's all that kicks ass about it.
The Overall Ugly: The word "disappointed" doesn't even begin to describe my emotions towards this game.
What it's Worth: