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GENRE: Action
November 18, 2003
Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar Galactica

 Written by Kyle Williams  on January 15, 2004

Full Review: It's a retro kind of holiday season.

Battlestar Galactica has seen a sudden resurgence in popularity and public awareness. This is largely due to the three-pronged media assault that we have experienced in the last two months. Battlestar Galactica, the videogame for PS2 & Xbox is the third front of the marketing blitz that started with the DVD release of the original series and reached critical mass with the Sci-Fi channel mini-series.

Being the only videogame ever based on the Battlestar Galactica mythology, there have been some pretty high expectations of the game. Much like the reimagined mini-series, there was a lot at stake with the development of the Battlestar Galactica videogame. I what I will take the liberty to dub a brilliant move, the BSG videogame is set 40 years before the events of the TV series. As such, it has an appeal to both those who prefer the original serial and the new mini-series. The story tells of the Cylon Wars and the exploits of Adama, a newly commissioned Viper pilot. Yes, this is the same Adama that later goes on to lead the ragtag fleet across the cosmos. The combat itself has a feel that is closer to Sci-Fi's new vision, but the game really does have the perfect fit with either mythos.

As a space combat game, Battlestar Galactica has to compete with the Rogue Squardon's and Starfoxes of the gaming world. Luckily, veteran developer Warthog was at the reins as they know their way around a celestial battleground. Fast and frantic combat is par for the course over each of the game's missions. There are constantly dozens of Cylon Raiders assaulting you, your wingmen and the Galactica itself. Luckily, your Viper is equipped with a customizable missile payload that lets you really stick it to your enemy. As the frantic gameplay demands, the controls are solid and the fully 3D flight engine easily surpasses the Star Wars flight titles that we've seen all over the place. Unfortunately, the lack of a multiplayer mode leaves a hole in the gameplay package. I know that, in order to release the title alongside the rest of the media marketing biltz, somthing had to be sacrificed. It is just unfortunate that it had to be a multiplayer mode. Oh, well. At least this leaves us with something more to look forward to in a sequel.

Battlestar Galactica didn't aim to break any new ground with it's gameplay mechanics, choosing instead to incorporate tried & true techniques into one of the most beautiful space combat games ever. Let me repeat that last bit; Battlestar Galactica is gorgeous. The package starts off with some well-crafted vehicle models but the real accomplishment comes in the form of the astounding celestial phenomenon and impressive weapon effects. Of course, all of this pales in comparison to the quality of the cinematic sequences. These shots are of the highest quality and really got me in the mood for the premier of the mini-series.

While Battlestar Galactica is an impressive space combat endeavor, it does have two major flaws that, when combined into the same package, make for one of the most frustrating experiences this side of the Mississippi. The first part of the situation comes in the form of an extreme level of difficulty. I'm the first person that welcomes a challenge, but some of these tasks are ridiculous. The second piece of the puzzle is that the missions are significantly long and that there is no type of in-mission checkpoint or save system. When you put these two items together you get a game that punishes failure at the end of a mission by making you go back and play through the occasionally tedious beginning of the mission again. Overcoming these points is a major test of one's patience.

Bottom Line
As a videogame, Battlestar Galactica is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the game is a perfect prequel to either the original series or the new reimagining of the property (take your pick) and is full of great gameplay and stunning graphics. The other side of the blade is tainted with extreme difficulty and long-missions that leave you wanting mid-level checkpoints. All things considered, BSG is a good game but you better be long on patience before you sit down to give it a try.

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