Review: Battalion Wars 2

Infendo

bw2Announced back at Leipzig 06, Nintendo’s sequel to their console version of Advanced Wars hasn’t gotten a lot of press. This is a shame, because Battalion Wars 2 improves on just about every element of its predecessor. From controls to graphics, BW2 takes full advantage of the Wii and adds more…

Story:

In the first Battalion Wars the dull story line consisted of a handful of armies that hated each other and fought to the death. BW2 makes a complete U-turn this time around and integrates a fairly intriguing plot that shows you each nations background and motives. Basically the Anglo Isles (British) believe that the Solar Empire (Japanese) have constructed a super weapon, and invade to take it. But it just so happens the Western Frontier (Americans) are on garrison duty in the region and come to the aid of the Solar Empire blah, blah , blah. Maybe it’s not the most original plot, but there’s some meat to it…really, there is!

Gameplay:

If you haven’t caught on, Battalion Wars 2 is all about strategy. You must think about how you will execute your battles so that you may clear your sub objectives. Learning to classify each unit type’s weakness and advantages will get you through the game. Better get to studying because this time around there are a few more to know, including Rifle grunts, Bazooka vets, assault vets, mortar vets, Flame vets, and anti-air, artillery, anti-air, battlestations, recons, tanks, gunships, jet fighters, heavy bombers, strato-destroyers, submarines, frigates, battleships, and dreadnoughts. So yes, there is some depth to this game. For instance, you see a light tank patrolling a bridge. You leave your rifle, and assult grunts behind and attack with your Bazooka vets . It’s as simple as that! A great new addition to game is the new respawn zones. You can capture enemy airbases, barracks, factories, and ports which will then output fresh troops and vehicles when you are running low.

Controls:

Ah, the Wii remote. It can make or break a game. Thankfully the remote improves BW2 gameplay beyond the original, and then some. The onscreen pointer allows you to shoot, select and move your units. Left and right on the d-pad allows you to select a group of units or your full battalion. When you’ve selected your units press the A button to have them follow or defend. On the original BW, controlling your units with the GCN controller worked, but fell short of commanding units quickly. The remote eliminates that issue by simply selecting units, locking onto enemy with pointer, and click A. It’s quick, smooth and almost feels like a pick up and play title.

Motion is there as well, though you won’t be using it as much as you think. When flying a jet fighter you control your speed with the control stick and fly by tilting the remote left, right, up, or down. It works fairly well and is actually controls a bit easier than the original. Another instance of waggle is when you are capturing a flag. You would normally command your troops to capture it for you, but if you need to speed the process up, just jump into the flag post and shake the nunchuk. There is more waggle used, but you’ll just have to play the game to find out.

Multiplayer:

Can I have a “WOOT” from the readers?! Yes, BW2 has online multiplayer, a feature that was much needed in with the first title. After logging into NWC, you are given the option of Co-op, Assault, or Skirmish. After picking your mode you proceed to choosing whether you want to battle random players or friends (sigh…friend codes). Co-op is welcomed greatly, that is if your teammate doesn’t screw up the fun. You can choose between 6 different missions, that include objectives that each player take care of at the same time. Assault mode is simple, one player’s army defends a location, while the other lays siege to it. Skirmish is where most people will be playing. It drops you and your opponent on an equal map filled with airbases, factories, and barracks in which you beat the snot out of each other. In the matches I played in, there was no hint of lag. Thankfully online mode runs as smooth as the single player.

BW2’s online features work great besides a few minor set backs including the unavoidable friend codes, and lack of voice chat. The latter issue hurts co-op the most. The only form of communication allows you to lock on to an enemy, press the 1 button, which places an exclamation over the unit thus telling your teammate to destroy it. The process becomes very annoying fast and makes you long for a headset.

Graphics:

The BW2 art style is a collision of a cartoon with grit. Yes it’s strange, but it looks good! Majority of the Wii’s extra horsepower is used for more units, and AI, but it does look a lot nicer than the first BW. The water looks fantastic! It ripples, waves, forms, and reflects perfectly. Character models have also been enhanced with smoother, more detailed textures. Worlds look a lot cleaner and feel more open. You will still see some bad textures, but you are usually too busy commanding your troops to notice. It does display in 480p and 16:9 and jaggies really aren’t as bad as I would have thought.

Sound:

As one of my favorite qualities of games, the music in BW2 fits in great! I’d have to say the music is 100% better than the first. Sound effects are there and work, but nothing special. When your troops are left behind to defend they often smart off and say a funny remark.

Final:

The Good
-Commanding troops is a lot easier and quicker with the remote
-Much needed (lag free) Online multiplayer
-Upgraded graphics (did I mention the water?)
-Wonderful sound

The Bad
-Single player is a bit short
-Turning is a tad slow, bounding box a bit too big
-Friend codes, no voice, or text chat

Overall, Battalion Wars 2 really is a great game that holds some replay value. Don’t let Nintendo’s lack of advertising stop you! Pick up BW2 when you get the chance!

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