Battle Fleet 2 – PC Game Review
Passed Inspection: Fun and incredibly addictive. Diversity of ships. Solitaire or multiplayer. Skirmish or Campaign Mode. Great tactical AI. Amazing value for the price. Can be played on PC, Mac, iPad or Android.
Failed Basic: Needs submarines. Strategic AI a little too reliant upon defensive actions. Too many ship collisions.
Battle Fleet 2 is the highly anticipated sequel to the original Battle Fleet game of years before. This time the player is given the option of controlling whole armadas of ships including battleships, battle cruisers, aircraft carriers, cruisers of various types, destroyers, and frigates belonging to either the United States Navy or the Empire of Japan.
Upon starting the game, the player is presented with options including whether to play a single-player or two-player game. For single-player, gamers can play a randomly generated skirmish, a campaign game or create their own battles. For two-player games players can either play the game in “Hot Seat” mode (two people using the same computer) or over the internet.
There are three different skill levels that influence the difficulty of the game, “Ensign,” “Lieutenant” or “Captain.” Additionally, for non-campaign battles, the player can pick the number of ships he or she controls and faces based upon “Prestige Points.” To put it simply, the bigger and more powerful the ship, the more “Prestige Points” the ship is worth.
The ship classes ship classes listed above include subclasses so, for example, some cruisers are more adept at using torpedoes as weapons while others are based more around heavy naval guns. In fact, in the campaign mode when the player builds ships at his or her bases, the ships themselves can be modified in terms of load-outs and such. Additionally, each named ship seems to authentically match its real-life counterpart, and each ship’s captain is rated for experience points, which will affect how that officer influences his ships.
I played several skirmish battles and a few build-your-own skirmishes and had a blast. There are several different options as to what types of “maps” the player wants to use—everything from open ocean to islands with shore defenses to battles off Iwo Jima and even San Francisco Bay! Watch out for the shore guns; they do pack a wallop and can sink small ships in one or two blasts if they hit correctly.
In one skirmish, the USS Dayton, a cruiser named after my hometown, took on three Japanese ships—two frigates and a destroyer. The Dayton was damaged, but it sank all three ships during a very exciting firefight.
The AI of the computer is very competent during the tactical battles, and its utilization of airplanes and map features makes it feel like the player is fighting another human. I did have one game, though, in which the AI starting steaming its last surviving ship around an island and I spent an hour trying to line it up for firing. I finally just gave up and ended the game. In this case, the AI needed to be little more offensive-minded as this battle turned out to be incredibly boring.
Combat and maneuvering is very straightforward. On the tactical map, line up the direction you wants the ship to go, using a compass-type display. Input the speed you want the ship to travel at, and there you go! The same holds true for both ship-to-ship and air combat. Press the button that corresponds to the weapon system to fire, line up the firing path on a directional display, input the expected range, and then fire away. Since finding the range can take a little guess work, match up the position of the target with the sighting range markers on the directional display and then fire a few ranging shots with single, light guns. As in real life (without computer fire control), a shot may hit too far out or too far in, so save the ship’s larger guns for a killing salvo. Launching recon airplanes or air strikes is handled just as simply and efficiently. Move the air target icon to the area where either the recon flight or the air strike is due to occur, set the angle of attack and then send those planes into action. An option is also given to have aircraft participate in combat air patrols over important ships or ground installations to protect against enemy air strikes.
My only complaint with maneuvering is that sometimes, when playing a large convoy of ships, it is very easy to have collisions, which can damage both ships involved. I think that the game’s AI should give the helmsman and the Captain a little more involvement in keeping collisions from occurring.
Damage is handled very effectively, and the players can watch as their ships suffer critical hits. Explosions, fires and hull damage are all displayed on the individual ships, as are oil leaks, which leave a nasty trail in the water behind the ship. Additionally, an easy-to-read status display shows exactly what is going on with each ship.
The campaign game can be played from either the American or the Japanese side. In addition to tactical ship battles, the campaign game adds in the occupation of sea and land zones. Some zones are protected by island-based shore batteries and airfields. When invading a zone, pay attention to knocking out these threats, as they can be deadly. Some zones include a notation that they have ports. Use these ports to repair damaged ships and to build additional ships for the fleet. Invasion fleets and supply lines are handled very abstractly.
Additionally, Strategic Command Cards can be found during battles which add random features such as mine fields, extra air strikes and even sabotage into the mix.
While playing the Japanese during a campaign game, I did notice that on the “Lieutenant” level, the AI played the Americans almost obsessively defensively. The only American offensive actions took place near New Zealand and I had to retreat my forces to repair and regroup. I took control of Hawaiian and Alaskan sea lanes before the Americans took a stand near San Francisco. Then it became a huge fleet action with around 20 ships on each side. After a massive, two-hour long battle, my fleet of Japanese ships took control of San Francisco. If the Americans had shown more aggression and attacked my fleet (which included three aircraft carriers, four battleships, three cruisers, five destroyers and many frigates) while I was forming it up near Hawaii, they could have knocked me out of the game.
Aside from these few issues, I wish the game offered submarine combat. This would make creating a defensive screen of destroyers and frigates essential for battleship and carrier fleets. The designers have promised submarines will be added in future updates to the gaming engine. As it is, the destroyers are very useful in harassing larger ships and the Japanese “Long Lance” torpedoes used by the Japanese destroyers are very devastating if properly deployed.
All in all, Battle Fleet 2 is a great game. Landlubbers, cast off the moorings and sail your fleet to victory in the Pacific! For this price, you can’t go wrong!
Armchair General Rating: 94 %
About the Author
A college film instructor and small business owner, Richard Martin has also worked in the legal and real estate professions, is involved in video production, film criticism, sports shooting and is an avid World War I and II gamer who can remember war games which came in plastic bags and cost $2.99 (he’s really that old)!