When I think of Konami my mind doesn’t go towards the FPS genre at all, so when I found out that they were teaming up with Saber Interactive to create Battle: Los Angeles, a FPS based off of the (supposedly) horrible movie of the same name, I got a bit worried. Yeah Konami is the same company behind the Metal Gear franchise, but last time I checked gamers aren’t going all Master Chief with Solid Snake – although I wouldn’t mind if that ever happened.
Now, before I go off on a tangent about how awesome it would be to have a first-person perspective of hiding inside a cardboard box with the word orange in large letters on all sides, let’s focus on Battle: Los Angeles. I haven’t seen the movie at all, and I highly doubt that I ever will, but from what I’ve heard from people who have played the game and seen the movie, Konami and Saber did a bang-up job. Because I lacked the knowledge to make any comparisons, I was able to go into the game without any expectations. All I knew was that I was getting ready to shoot the crap out of some aliens, and I was totally okay with that.
In Battle: Los Angeles players have three difficulty levels to choose from: Easy, Normal, Hard. Not knowing just how balls to the wall the game would be, I opted for Normal. The menu was easy to navigate through, there were many options to customize the sound, video, subtitles, and controls (something I’m big on), and I was pleased as punch to see that they went with a normal control scheme. The A button even allowed me to jump! Left trigger was to zoom in, right trigger was to shoot, the thumbsticks controlled your movement and where you looked around, and I was happy to see that a button, B, was assigned for chucking grenades.
The game did a great job of setting everything up for me with a comic style intro, and the same art style was used in between stages. The actual game looked nothing like what I thought it would and I was shocked when it was nicely well done. Xbox Live Arcade titles tend to be hit or miss, especially if it’s something where graphics are key, so I’m really glad that I didn’t have to shoot through an ugly game. The guns looked realistic, the recoil was true to form, and reloading was fast. A huge pet peeve of mine is when reloading your weapon takes forever, leaving my character completely vulnerable until I can finally start shooting again. I loved the sniper rifle as well. In most FPS I make a mad dash for the sniper because, in my opinion, nothing is more satisfying than getting a gorgeous headshot or no-scope on somebody. Since I’m battling these cyber aliens, there isn’t a lot of blood going all over the place when you shoot them, and you also have to make sure you get a headshot every single time for it to be a one-shot kill. Body shots with the sniper will only daze them temporarily.
On the subject of blood, because there wasn’t the telltale red spurting all over the place, it became difficult to tell when I had knocked one of them down permanently. Their blood, if you can even call it that, looks like motor oil. I found that I had to pump a lot of bullets into them, if I was using my automatic and not my sniper, but again, hooray for fast reloading. Aside from your automatic rifle and sniper, the only other weapon you can get and carry with you is a rocket launcher. I see nothing wrong with wanting to explode many things at once, because I love a good explosion as much as anyone else, but surely it could’ve held more than 3 rockets. When using the rocket launcher against one of the large alien aircrafts, I made sure to position myself next to one of the ammo drops so that I would automatically replenish what I was losing.
That brings me to the next point – ammo. There was never a part in the game where I had to conserve. I could’ve done the whole “spray and pray” thing and made it through the game. By walking over weapons that were dropped by fallen comrades you get ammo, also if you go to one of the ammo boxes, all of your ammo replenishes. It’s fantastic, don’t get me wrong, but I felt that it didn’t really allow me to feel like I’m in an urgent situation. In addition to the rifle, sniper, grenades and rocket launcher you get to kick ass and take names with a turret. Again, the guys at Konami and Saber did a great job. I was so glad that I didn’t have to worry about the turret overheating, and I enjoyed just holding down on that right trigger and blasting everything to hell and back.
I was disappointed by a few things though. The first thing is that the game is very short. I was able to get through the entire Normal campaign in 42 minutes. I did enjoy every minute of it, but it was still really short and I felt that it ended abruptly. I also didn’t like that there weren’t any tough bosses to fight. The alien drones are basic and if you pay attention to their movements, they move in a pattern. Sometimes I had to fight against alien turrets, but I was able to defeat them every single time by flanking them and either blowing up some explosive container nearby or taking out the drone that was controlling it. Also there were times where I had to use the rockets against those aircrafts, but that only happened twice and consisted of me hiding behind a pillar and coming out when I could get a clear shot. The only real thing that showed to be any form of a challenge was when one of my guys went in ahead of me and I had to provide him coverage with my sniper, making sure that he could complete his task and that his health bar wasn’t emptied. There wasn’t any way for me to tell how long I’d have to be providing that coverage because there wasn’t a timer or anything like that to clue me in.
On the subject of health, there was no health bar or anything like that for my character. The only way I knew that I had to take cover was because after getting shot so many times, in which I have no idea how many shots I can take, my “vision” started to go from color to black and white. The edges around the screen started to turn red as well. It was a great way to inform me that, “hey, you better find some cover,” but since there was no way to really gauge the amount of damage I could take, it was a bit strange. Thankfully I never died but, as I’ve said, the game isn’t too terribly difficult.
There are about 12 achievements in all: three for beating each various difficulty level (you can’t beat it on hard and unlock the other ones for normal and easy, FYI), one for using one rocket to kill two aliens, one for killing 15 aliens with the turret, and more. The achievements themselves aren’t difficult to get at all, so if you are a person who loves to rack up those cheevos, Battle: Los Angeles will have you feeling like you’re a kid in a candy store. I was excited to see that, in order to boost the replay value of the game, there are mods that you can apply to your game. There are three in all, one linked to you completing each difficulty level, so that was a really nice touch. There are other unlockables like videos showing how some characters of the game were made which I found to be very cool.
Unfortunately there is no co-op or online to the game, and I think it really could’ve benefited from it. You already move through the streets of Los Angeles with a squad, so I think it would’ve been easy to allow a friend or two to join. The leaderboards were nice, and they go rather in depth with how many shots the aliens fired, how accurate of a shot you are, how long you played the game for, and much more. It breaks everything down and compares your scores against your XBL friends, so be prepared to duke it out to retain sniper accuracy bragging rights.
I liked Battle: Los Angeles, I really did. I just question the amount of replayability it has, and whether or not people will feel shortchanged since it is priced at 800 Microsoft Points. If you want a game that can offer you a fun hour of gaming, good gameplay mechanics, and the ability to tweak the game via mods, I say go for it and buy the game right now. If you’re still unsure based on my review (which is totally understandable), there is a free demo you can download and try. Who knows, you might be shocked like I am and enjoy the game to bits. Sadly PS3 and PC gamers will have to wait a bit longer as the game isn’t scheduled to hit PSN until March 22nd and Steam sometime later this month.
Battle: Los Angeles is available now through the Xbox Live Marketplace for 800 Microsoft Points. For more information on the game, or to download it, check out the games official xbox.com page.
|Fun, unlockable mods, great controls, good graphics||No online or co-op, is really short, isnt challenging|