Not The Best Movie, Not The Best Game
The other day, my friends invited me to go see Battle: Los Angeles with them, and having heard nothing about it ahead of time, I gladly went along. What a sucker I was! The whole thing was all the stereotypical missions you would go on in an FPS strung back to back in an attempt to call it a movie. First there was the recon mission where you just had to fight some enemy troops, then there was the escort mission where you had to protect civilians, the capture point mission where you had to defend your troops while you got a bus working, the heavy weapons mission where you take out an enemy tank, the evac mission where you flee the battle on a helicopter, and even an airstrike mission where you paint your target with a laser. By the end of it all, I wanted to play the damn movie rather than watch another minute of this poorly constructed action porn held together by a plot so thin you could use it as toilet paper … and I like action porn! I loved the new A-Team movie!
Well, imagine my surprise when I learned that I could, in fact, play the movie for a mere eight hundred Microsoft points. Hooray! Maybe this game won’t suck as much as much as the movie did.
The game starts you off right in the thick of things. You are basically put right in the shoes of a marine during the first battle scene of the movie. You only get a brief run-down of the story pre-alien attack through a strange motion comic style cutscene. These cutscenes show up frequently between chapters which is weird considering the movie itself went for a hyper realistic feel.
It’s obvious that they went for the same hyper realistic feel with the in-game graphics, and to a certain extent they succeeded. There are a couple high points to the presentation including awesome debris physics and collapsible terrain. Early on you get to see alien fighters take down an aircraft, and watching it crash from the sky is pretty damn impressive, I do admit. The aliens themselves actually look better in the game than they did in the movie, which isn’t saying much since the aliens in the movie looked like rubber puppets, but it’s still worth saying.
Unfortunately, everything else looks like it came from the stock graphics department. Textures are bland, your fellow marines have permanent blank expressions on their face, the explosions almost look painted, and all the animations are incredibly stiff and awkward, even when marines are dying. The huge alien ships look like they are made of Legos, and random abandoned cars look so pristine it’s like they came straight from the Hot Wheels factory. Meanwhile, the environments are all the same boring shade of grey/brown/sand color.
The music in the game is same generic army fair you heard in the movie. The voices of the main characters are fairly uninspired, while dying extras actually do a much better job. The sound effects are decent, but once again they just sound like stock sound effects. The only ones that stand out are from the alien’s weapons and the guttural sounds of the aliens themselves, but even then the weapons don’ t have the chest-pounding thud they did in the theater nor do the aliens sound as slimy and gross as they did through the big theater speakers. In the end all of this comes together to make a shooter that looks and sounds almost painfully generic from minute one, and it never gets any better.
Speaking of generic, the game is really nothing more than a standard aim down sight shooter with a basic gun set of assault rifle, sniper rifle, grenades, and blah blah blah. Someone on the development team didn’t get the memo that ammo shortages create tension in an FPS. Ammo and grenades flow like the water. You can run around the stages going all Ted Nugent on everyone, but no matter how much you waste bullets, you still find more! There’s one point in the game where you enter a warehouse and you can literally throw an endless stream of grenades at oncoming enemies simply by standing over an ammo point! It’s goofy!
No matter how powerful this Rambo-style ammo stockpile makes you, the bullet physics are too screwed up to make it really matter. Hit detection is horrible, and you can rarely tell when you are actually putting bullets into the aliens you are fighting. This makes the game mostly spray and pray. You only really fire in an enemy’s general direction and hope to god your bullets hit.
Grenade physics are wonky too. Your character must have been a baseball star because grenades shoot out of you like you used a grenade launcher. This means that you frequently underestimate your throws and eventually realize that you should be targeting your enemies with grenades the same way you target them with your gun: by pointing straight at them. That makes no sense!
The game follows the movie pretty much perfectly. Sometimes you are escorting civilians to safety; other times you cover Staff Sergeant Nantz (the main character from the movie) as he does something crazy; and yet other times you are trying to blow up enemy air craft with a rocket launcher. You even get to play the big finale where you call in a missile strike on the enemy command center, and that’s pretty cool.
The game’s biggest problem is its length. The game is a little over thirty minutes long. That’s it. And in those thirty minutes, the game actually manages to hit every major scene from the movie. This just makes me hate the movie more! What sort of epic pacing fail do you have to accomplish for a thirty-minute video game to tell the exact same story your two-hour movie did? That means the movie was an hour-and-a-half of padding and trailers.
Outside of my movie-induced rage, the game itself runs the spectrum from slightly bad to outstandingly mediocre. The best parts of the game are really just missions that other FPSes have done better, but the worst parts are pretty much the same thing. The game never goes into the zone of outright horrible; it’s just that there’s nothing special here either.
Think about this for a second. You have the option of spending ten dollars on a mediocre thirty-minute shooter or a bad two-hour movie. In the long run, I think I would choose the shooter over the movie, even though it was obviously made for fans of the movie. If I had a third option, I would probably choose burning my ten dollars and watching the flames over either of these experiences, but if you really want to experience the story of an alien race invading the earth for its water via L. A., Battle: Los Angeles is about as good as you’ll get.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.8 Graphics
Though there are some cool visual moments, most of the game is filled with generic textures and awkward animations. 3.5 Control
It’s hard to screw up a basic “aim down sight” shooter interface, but the lack of hit confirmation and weird grenade physics do detract from the game. 3.2 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The music is the same music from the movie, but the sounds and voices experience a notable drop in quality from their big screen interpretations. 1.5 Play Value
The game is thirty minutes long and costs ten dollars. That’s thirty three cents a minute to play this game. You’ll get better value out of a psychic hotline. 3.0 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend|
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid||2.5 – 2.9 = Average||3.5 – 3.9 = Good||4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy|
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor||3.0 – 3.4 = Fair||4.0 – 4.4 = Great||5.0 = The Best|