8.5

Some gameplay issues aside, Battalion Wars II is the definitive Wii war game

Battalion Wars is definitely not your average war game. While most games that put you in the middle of a huge battlefield out there are gory and extremely violent, Battalion Wars stays away from this formula. Instead of presenting a realistic battle that takes place on one of the World Wars, it takes you to a different world where cartoony characters will try to find a way to defeat their enemies.

This series is kind of a console version of Advance Wars, a popular Gameboy Advance game. However, the original series is completely focused on the strategy part of the war, meanwhile Battalion Wars is more of a combat-based game, yet there are some strategy features that add a lot to the whole experience and make this game stand out from the other games that belong to the same genre.

If you are not familiar with the series, you must know that in this game you become the commander of a small battalion that needs to overcome the toughest challenges in order to protect its country from enemy soldiers. While commanding your battalion you will be able to control any of the units you have at your disposal. If your battalion is composed of a bunch of grunts, some bazooka vets and two air vehicles, you can simply choose which of those units you feel like controlling, the rest of the battalion will just follow you wherever you go.

The storyline is very interesting but some may find it complicated to understand since during your campaign you will have lots of flashback mission. The main reason for those missions to take place is that the main story happens on a two-hundred-year spam. One of the coolest factors that this storyline has added to the game is that you will get to play with all available armies. For example, during one of your first missions you will have to recover a base that has been captured by the enemy when you are finished with this campaign you will have to play as the enemy and defend your country from the attacks of the empire you had just invaded.

There are five different armies, the Solar Empire, the Anglo Isles, the Xylvanians, the Tundran Territories and the Western Frontier. Another nice feature is that each one of those armies are allusions to actual countries. The Western Frontier makes some clear references to the Americans and the Anglo Isles, an Empire whose prowess is its navy , clearly represent England. You can figure out the other by yourself. Besides, while their units are basically the same they look completely different, every single army has its own design characteristics which shows how careful the developers were with the graphical part of the game.

The gameplay presented is unique. As I have previously mentioned you can control naval, air and ground units, and during your battles you will have to be really cautious when sending them into battle since each different kind of unit has its weaknesses. When you encounter a battalion composed by many anti-air grunts you will need to keep your bombers and fighters away from that area until you destroy all of them, otherwise you will probably lose those air units. Knowing the unit's good and bad match-ups is extremely necessary in order to finish the game.

During the battles you can quickly switch from one unit to the other by selecting its correspondent icon on the screen and pressing the A-button. To make your army attack you simply have to lock into an enemy unit and press the A-button, you can also assign orders as Wait, Follow and Defend. But all this switching can get a little bit confusing during the hardest missions, because there are some many different options that you will often be confused as to what to do.

Controlling grunts is nice and simple all you have to do is move the control stick to make them run, and point the Wiimote at the screen to aim their weapons, on a gameplay that's similar to the one presented in Metroid Prime 3. However, there are some moves, such as rolling and jumping, that can only be performed using Nunchuck movements, and as we all know by now, they aren't responsible. Controlling ground vehicles such as battlestations, light tanks and anti-air vehicles in not a joy, from time to time you will find yourself struggling to determine to which direction you need to move the control stick in order to make the vehicle advance properly. Sometimes you can also get stuck between two different vehicles and you will be unable to get out of such awful situation. Fortunately the same doesn't apply for naval and air units.

The game presents over twenty different missions. The first ones don't present any kind of challenge whatsoever, because they are more like tutorial missions which is bad because I think they should have added a tutorial mode that's separated from the regular adventure so that the first few missions would be more compelling and hard. But as you advance you will start having some problems. The game is around twenty-hours long, but you can play it for much longer because by the end of each mission you will be awarded points based on your technique, speed and power, those points will lead you to different ranks, the highest being S, and when you get S-ranks on all the missions from a campaign you unlock some cool extras, thereby there is always a good reason to come back and play some more.

Another cool feature is the online mode where you can face opponents from all over the world on three different kinds of matches. Skirmish, where you have to kill as many enemy units as possible within the time limit, Assault, where one player defends the base while the other tries to capture the flag and cooperative - which is my favorite - where you and your partner have to work together in order to beat enemy CPUs. There are also some unlockable online levels, you will gain access to them as you play more online games. The online experience is smooth and there is no lag at all. But overall it feels shallow because there are no leaderboards and the Friend Codes are still present.

Another small shortcoming is that there are only four online cooperative missions, I think the Kuju Entertainment team should have added the campaign missions on the online mode, it would be much better and compelling. Speaking of cooperative, I can't understand why there isn't any kind of multiplayer support - Wi-Fi aside. The only reasonable explanation would be that the Wii's hardware would never support two players sharing the same screen especially on this game where there are many characters moving on the screen simultaneously, so I'm not taking points off the game because of that.

The graphics are very nice, there are some cool blur effects especially on naval missions. Everything looks absolutely fantastic, the character models are beautiful and cartoony, the battles have an impressive flow and there are no frame-rate drops despite all the movement and action that takes place. The art work is impressive as each one of the empires has different types of buildings, bases, units and soldiers. The amount of distinct landscapes is also amazing, you will battle on green fields, deserts, canyons, war-torn valleys, glaciers and towns. The cutscenes are breathtaking, they are by far the most astonishing footage on the Wii.

The sound effects are very close to real, explosions, guns fire and many other different sounds have been perfectly brought to the game. The soundtrack is composed of epic songs that match the war mood of the game with perfection and some sad themes that make you think of the bad aspect of so big battles. The voice acting is also remarkable.

Overall, Battalion Wars II is a must-have game for almost every Wii owner especially the ones who played and liked the first version of the game, however if never felt attracted by the series then this game won't change your mind because it plays the same way as its predecessor did. With the addition of the online multiplayer mode - a feature that was blatantly lacking on the first game - the experience has improved a lot, although I must say there is still room for this series to grow. Some gameplay issues aside, Battalion Wars II is the definitive Wii war game.

Actual Score: 8.6

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