Battlestations: Midway Updated Impressions - Single-Player and Multiplayer
As it's one part real-time strategy game and another part action game, this World War II game looks to be one of the potential hits of 2006.
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Battlestations: Midway could be described as a Battlefield 1942-style game without the infantry combat, but this action strategy game has more in common with the Kingdom Under Fire releases. This game from Eidos and Hungarian developer Mithis will let you command warships, submarines, fighters, and bombers in the Pacific theater of World War II. Not only that, but you'll be able to jump in to control any of these platforms so you can take the fight directly to the enemy yourself. We've had a couple of opportunities now to see the game in action, but we got a good look at the game's progress at Eidos' fall press event.
Mithis is responsible for one of our favorite sleeper games this year, Nexus: The Jupiter Incident, and Battlestations: Midway reminds us a bit of Nexus, save for that it's set during World War II rather than in outer space. In Battlestations: Midway, you'll command US forces during the major battles of the war. The game is part real-time strategy in that you can switch to a map, select individual ships and squadrons, and then give orders. However, it's also an action game, as you can take direct control of any platform to battle it out. This will let you experience all the "cinematic" moments of the war as you can conduct a bombing run on the enemy, trade broadsides with an enemy battleship, dogfight above an epic sea battle, and much more.
While the game isn't due out until 2006, the pieces are finally falling into place. We know that Battlestations: Midway will feature a single-player campaign that will put you in the role of an American officer battling throughout the war, from Pearl Harbor to the bitter end. The campaign will have 11 huge missions, some of which may take more than an hour to get through. The game will also ship with 12 challenge missions, some of which are playable from the Japanese perspective. You unlock these challenge missions by going above and beyond during the single-player campaign. For example, if you manage to sink a key warship that you didn't need to sink, you may unlock one of the four submarine challenge missions (including one that tasks you with attacking a large convoy). There are also ship challenges and plane challenges, one of which involves you taking off with your squadron to defend an airfield from waves upon waves of American bombers.
There are also some ambitious multiplayer plans for the game, as Eidos doesn't really see any major competitors for Battlestations: Midway in terms of multiplayer. All versions of the game will support up to eight players, though the game will also be geared for head-to-head play. In team games, players can divide up roles. For example, some may control airfields to facilitate the launch of fighter and bomber missions, while some may control shipyards that will give units to other players. Still others will control units directly in fights. Yet perhaps the most interesting multiplayer feature is the island capture mode. Both sides will have an island at the top or bottom of the map, and the objective is to get your side's landing forces from your island to the other side's island first. Of course, there's going to be a huge battle in the middle of the map, so the trick will be trying to clear the way for your transports while at the same time trying to take out the enemy transports on the way to your island.
The PC version of Battlestations: Midway has made a huge leap in visual quality since we last saw it earlier this year, so now the graphics look more like those of a PC game and far less like those of a port of a console game. The level of detail is still impressive, and if you look closely you can see a large amount of detail on everything, such as tiny sailors manning the deck guns on a warship. However, it's the cinematic quality to the action that's caught our eye. For example, dogfights look pretty insane when swarms of planes fill the screen. The action looks great, and this game's been on our radar since we first saw it last year. Unfortunately, it looks like we'll have to wait until spring of next year before we can get our hands on it.