(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)
- The Game Itself
- 2 Stars
- The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
- 1.5 Stars
- The Audio: Rating the Sound
- 2 Stars
Battle: Los Angeles
- Street Date:
- March 11th, 2011
- Reviewed by:
- Chad Goodmurphy
- Review Date:1
- October 3rd, 2011
- Game Release Year:
- Xbox 360
- Live Action Studios
- ESRB Rating:
- T (Teen)
Based upon the premise of the blockbuster film of the same name, Battle: Los Angeles takes key plot points from its big screen inspiration and turns them into an interactive experience. It’s a first-person shooter with one of gaming’s most popular foes: aliens. Where would this industry be without that one word, which is used to describe just about any creative abomination a character designer can think of? Who knows? All we know is that they’re (usually) very fun to shoot.
The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
The premise of this downloadable XBOX Live Arcade and PlayStation Network game is quite simple: aliens have decided to invade and attack the City of Angels. The only ones who can attempt to stop them are a band of United States Marines, who represent the main characters in the film and your rookie character’s squadron in the game. There’s nothing overly complex about it and the premise is nothing more than an excuse for gunplay and explosions.
Like its plot, Battle: Los Angeles the video game is a very simple experience. It’s quite basic, a little bit archaic and is incredibly paint by numbers in terms of its first-person shooter mechanics and design. Hearing this, one would expect that it would be forgettable, boring and something to avoid. However, the game is surprisingly fun and entertaining, albeit nothing to write home about.
Instead of delivering a huge, big budget product with four hour plus campaign, Battle: Los Angeles is a bite-sized arcade title. In all honesty, the title can easily be completed in about an hour on any difficulty. Leaderboards reflect the fastest times players have set, so there’s a bit of an addictive quality in that element. Running through as fast as you can in order to try to beat a friend or nemesis is a lot of fun.
The development team at Saber Interactive seems to have gone in thinking about creating a shooter that never takes itself too seriously. In fact, they had to have, because of how simple and old school this game really is. The gunplay is over the top, with the requisite turret sections and your basic assortment of military weapons. Plus, there’s the necessary cover fire section, some very basic boss battles and enemies who have less intelligence than a doorknob. All of the elements are things we’ve seen done better in games from years passed.
What makes this game fun is a mystery because, as a sum of its components, Battle: Los Angeles is certainly something strange. Perhaps it’s the B-movie mentality? Sometimes it’s fun to just sit back and watch something of mediocre to poor quality, while having a beverage or entertaining some friends. That is the type of low-budget gaming experience we have here: an over-the-top B-game with nothing to hide.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
Gamers who are looking for a high-definition spectacle need not apply here. The city of Los Angeles, which is known for being quite pretty in its heat radiating sunlight, is represented in drab fashion this time around. Basic texture work, a gloomy colour palette, uninspired locations and some of the worst enemy animations we’ve seen in years, all make Battle: Los Angeles’ visuals feel dated. The visual presentation here seems thrown together, without a great deal of attention paid to any finer elements. Unfortunately, it’s well below par in this category.
Throughout its brief runtime, only a few different types of enemies are encountered. You’ve got the basic grunt, a larger and more deadly version of that enemy type and the boss ships. All three are very uninspired and are taken from a movie that didn’t exactly write the book on creativity, to say the least. Though, it must be said that the aliens look even worse in the game than they do on celluloid. Their animations are stiff, limited and laughable.
The story is told in two ways: through some grainy old 1950s footage that resembles a low-budget monster movie and, through the use of hand-drawn cutscenes. Neither one is overly prevalent which is understandable, considering there happens to only be a handful of levels here. They do the job but really aren’t anything great. The footage is brief and generalized, while the comic-style artwork is decent though safe.
In all actuality, the look of Battle: Los Angeles adds to its charm, with the old B-movie adage applying once again. Not a lot of time was spent on this bullet-spouting first-person shooter and it shows in the presentation, which is less than spectacular. Actually, it’s not even close. However, there’s some sort of charm in the ho-hum presentation and how the game looks a lot older than it really is.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
Those who are familiar with generic military games, movies or television shows, should know what to expect from Battle: Los Angeles’ audio department. There’s a lot of tin-like gunfire, some car alarms, the odd explosion and a lot of one-lined quips said in a gruff, military fashion. The only new things here are some alien sound effects and the roar of the odd extra-terrestrial ship.
Of course, there’s also some actual, scripted dialogue, which we should discuss. During the game’s cutscenes, news reporters and our main characters sound off a bit on current events and tactics. Despite this being a licensed movie game, the cast of the film is a no-show, meaning that we’re treated to an assortment of look-alike and sound-alike characters instead. The voice cast is mediocre at best, though that may be a generous statement.
All of the aforementioned audible content is very generic, like the rest of the game’s presentation qualities. Things sound pretty much like they should, but the audio recording was not done with a great attention to fidelity or quality. That means that your surround sound set-up will not be used to its full potential (or anywhere close to that) with this title.
Gamers who enjoy unlocking everything in all games they play are the ones who will get the most replay value out of this title. That is because of the fact that the difficulty-based achievements/trophies do not stack. This means that, in order to fully complete the game’s unlockable points or metallic award list, you must run through it three separate times: once on each of its three difficulty levels. For some reason, it’s more compelling than deterring. Why that is happens to be very difficult to put into words though. Perhaps it’s the return of the B-movie effect?
Each difficulty level completion unlocks new content. There are some decent making-of videos, as well as some character art. Additionally, players can enjoy some cheat bonuses of the big head variety. There’s nothing creative about the game’s unlockable content types, nor are they anything you’ll remember for years to come. However, it’s nice that they were at least included. Unlocking all collectibles is tied to an easy achievement/trophy, which requires no effort outside of the repetitive trigger and joystick motions you’ll already be making.
With leaderboards being featured prominently at the conclusion of every play through and on the game’s title screen, replay value is artificially added. Friends who purchase this game together can find enjoyment in trying to one-up each other by seeing who can post the fastest completion time. Since there’s not a large amount of challenge found on any of the three difficulty levels, it’s interesting to see who can achieve the best cumulative time as well.
Battle: Los Angeles is a rarity these days. It’s a game that knows it’s bad and revels in it. Instead of trying to sell itself based on length or any included visceral action, this single player only shooter promotes its basic arcade qualities instead. For some, that will certainly be a deterring factor. Though, others will want to check this one out for the fun and hilarity that it presents. Just don’t go in expecting anything more than it really is, or else you’ll be disappointed.
For ten dollars, it’s hard to recommend against buying this game, despite its shortcomings. Though, that recommendation only extends to the type of gamers who enjoy low-budget romps that feature an experience, which is a lot like watching a bad movie with friends. If that’s you, then give this one a shot. Though, since there happens to be a lack of a rental feature, make sure to try the trial before buying.
- Dolby Digital 5.1
- Online Versus
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