Battleship hasn't been a new game since it was introduced more than a half century ago but this Hasbro Interactive PC version adds an arcade perspective. The new arcade game doesn't offer timeless fun like the old version so Hasbro was wise to include classic Battleship in the package.
In the arcade game, you have but one battleship and are up against a huge armada. Control of the ship is through the arrow keys and you fire using the A-S-D-W key configuration. You can also use the mouse to look freely about the area if you press F1. While keyboard controls are easy to master, it's even easier to play the game using a joystick. Here you have greater control over your overall movement and special attacks, which can be somewhat difficult to use with the keyboard (it isn't particularly easy to reposition your fingers to hit the E-D-A keys at the same time).
The levels start out simply with only a few boats and turrets firing at you. It's much more difficult to kill enemies using the front and rear cannons because they only fire one shot at a time, whereas the side guns fire several at once. The guns aren't your only weapons and are supplemented by many power-ups and special abilities. One example is the power to fire anti-aircraft missiles at zeppelins and airplanes. Another is the ability to turn your ship into a submarine and avoid most obstacles.
Each level has a specific purpose. For instance, in one level your job is to destroy an oil facility at the end of the area. It's not necessary to destroy everything in the level to progress and as soon as you destroy the facility, you can move on to the next level. This appears to be quite realistic, as it's very unreasonable for one ship to have to defeat such a large army on brute strength alone. The enemies in the arcade game change but the levels always look alike. This repetition can lead to boredom and sometimes discourages you from playing for hours at a time.
The classic Battleship game is almost as much fun as the original and you have the option to choose from three grid sizes. Obviously, the larger the grid size, the harder the game will be since there is more room to hide your vessels. You can even make the computer's grid size smaller than yours, an aspect that makes the game incredibly easy.
The best feature of the classic game is the multiplayer option that allows you to play against friends over the Internet or a LAN connection. Half the fun of playing Battleship is having it out with another person. After all, that's how the game was originally played. Additionally, the graphics aren't system intensive, so it's easier to play with a slower connection than a game like Alien Versus Predator.
While the game is good overall, the traditional Battleship board game still holds its own as the best. Maybe it's the beeping sounds or translucent plastic game board but some elements don't carry over to the computer version. The long missile sound that would leave you in suspense until it possibly carried into a target was always enjoyable but, in this version, you can see the missile as it travels to a square, eliminating the surprise. When it hits, you see fire but it doesn't seem to have the same effect. In the original game, you also had to plot the missed shots and position your ships by hand.
But, the original Battleship game isn't the main purpose behind the creation of Battleship: Surface Thunder. It's obvious that the new arcade game received the bulk of the effort in programming. The game gives you the feel of moving a hand held battleship through your bathtub but the graphics are well done. It may appear simple in the beginning with only a few ships to destroy, but later on you go up against more than ten zeppelins and airplanes at the same time, while three battleships circle you!
Switching between your special attacks gets very complex. For example, boats that shoot at you require a reciprocal action on your part using a special attack and airborne units require you to use special missiles to fire up at them. In addition to these two, you have to use special depth charges to destroy submarines. All three of these vehicles attack you at the same time in the eighth level and you must decide which ones to destroy first. This may seem like a daunting task to someone who hasn't played the game but it's offset by the fact that you have three lives and your firepower greatly outnumbers that of the enemy.
Battleship: Surface Thunder may not be the best game of the genre but it's reasonably fun. The game is worth the purchase if you're interested in playing classic Battleship over the Internet and the arcade game is an added bonus. For those who aren't interested in the classic game, this version offers crystal-clear graphics and plenty of action. It instills new technology into an old game without sacrificing too much of the original fun.
Graphics: The water in the game is so clear it feels like you're floating in a bathtub. It's very pleasant to look at and you can clearly see the ocean floor. The 3D world works on three different levels: on the water, above it and underneath. The graphical landscape is very clear and even though it doesn't make you feel like you're on the ocean, it's still looks good.
Sound: The occasional seagull's call and ocean noise permeates your computer's speakers during each level. When you come across enemies, all you hear are the sounds of guns blasting. All of the sounds, including the "yea!" of rescued life rafts are adequate for gameplay but nothing spectacular. It would have been nice had the classic Battleship game included the original sounds for added nostalgia.
Enjoyment: The arcade mode is fun to play for a short while but never holds up to long-term play because all the levels are so similar. Of course, classic Battleship won't get old fast and you can always play against different opponents.
Replay Value: After you've played the arcade game, you may not want to play it again. But the classic game offers as much replay value as the original. As long as you have a computer with a modem, you can find opponents.
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Battleship: The Classic Naval Warfare Game, Atari: 80 Classic Games in One!, Battlefield 2, Battlefield 1942, Atari Anniversary Edition, Beach Head 2002, Battlefield Vietnam, Atari Arcade Hits
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