"You sank my battleship!" Ah, the sounds of childhood Saturday afternoons and a really memorable ad campaign. Dense blue plastic, knobby little red and white pieces (which the dog always tried to eat), and really strategic guesswork. Now that was fun.
Rather than simply relying on nostalgia to sell games, Hasbro develops, tweaks, adds, and replots the game until you have not only the standard Battleship, but also World Domination mode, air warfare, naval warfare, helicopters to fly, islands to defend, oil rigs to protect, and enemy submarines to torpedo. Some great visuals accompany an intuitive interface and suddenly the game of childhood afternoons becomes the one of I-really-should-be-working adult afternoons. This is a strategic, real-time wargame, and one thoughtful enough to include both host and guest CDs so you'll always be able to attack your friends.
While there can be no doubt that Hasbro has added extraordinary depth to this game, there is one big, fundamental flaw: the "Classic" game. This is the game you'd expect - the direct translation of the Battleship you grew up with to the PC screen. Fire missiles into enemy waters and hope you hit your opponent's aircraft carrier; little gridded squares turn white when you miss and red when you hit. And when you hit, you're treated to a cutscene with a dramatic explosion of your weapon of destruction hitting the enemy ship.
However, the Classic game springs a serious leak: no strategy. Not an intensely complicated game with intricate strategic developments to begin with, it's now just a guess-fest. The reason for this? You can't turn your boats lengthwise. Try as you might, you just can't. Sure, you can move your boat from one end of the grid to the other, but only horizontally. Try to flip it around vertically and you'll find yourself frustrated. And if that wasn't bad enough, those dramatic cutscenes also show you which of your opponent's boats you just hit. So when you fire your first missile and see it hit the aircraft carrier squarely in the middle, you know you have to hit it exactly four more times to make it sink. Same thing holds true for the submarine, the battleship, and the rest.
The Classic game, though, serves as training for the meat of this modern Battleship - which is a simple real-time war game. You construct fleets and send them out to accomplish a particular goal, and you must stop your opponent from doing the same. It works pretty much like the Classic game (aim and fire) but it's in real-time (meaning you don't take turns). There are several variations on this theme, but it's all pretty much a super-vamped version of the classic board game.
One thing that is noticeably lacking is a detailed and complete manual. Granted, serious wargamers will be able to catch on to the premise pretty quickly, but lots of the folks who buy this game are old-school, plastic playing board game folks, and a little extra help couldn't hurt.
Hasbro Interactive's Battleship HITS with depth and strategy (and a cool opening sequence), but MISSES on the classic level.