My Blog

BSG: Squadrons - Mobile Games: A Love/Hate Relationship
I'm torn between full review and full blown rant on this one... Battlestar Galactica: Squadrons (BSG:S) is not bad, for a mobile game. It inhabits the world of the more recent TV show and transports you there.
Would you like to know more? Scroll down and I'll see you after the jump.

Sights, sounds and characters will all seem familiar, you'll even have to respond to contacts on DRADIS and initiate an FTL jump if things get hairy.There's even a gameplay element that focuses on maintaining the surviving human population.The game even goes one further with its ship models, verging on starfighterporn (hence all the images in this post) ... the graphics and design look so good and then you upgrade a ship to an elite cylon hybrid and wow!

The problem I have with all of this is that it isn't a full game in the traditional sense, it's firmly rooted in the casual mobile camp. Which means however much you might want to jump into the cockpit of one of these fighters, you can't.Even though the game is immersed in the universe of the show it's still painfully out of reach.Just FYI there was a Battlestar Galactica PS2 game that I can recommend.

Being a mobile format the game is held back in other areas; I love that you get rewarded for having a higher population, what I don't love is that it's obviously skewed to force you to buy into the in-game currency, it's easy to lose thousands of people but once you hit level 6 or 7 it's very unlikely you'll be picking up enough to cover your losses.It's a great mechanic but has it's potential is wasted. I can't help thinking a full retail game would do a better job of storytelling too, the plot is delivered through a few lines of text from some of your favourite characters, no voice acting though, it touches on the plot of the show but in no way can it do it justice. Entire episodes are summed up with a few lines. Some care has been taken to keep the dialogue in-character but without any character development it doesn't count for a whole lot.

The gameplay itself involves your ships in turn based battle, with the usual class system for strength/weakness although the game refers to the classes as Greek letters it's never really reinforced and I'm still not sure what the point of the purple and gold classes is. It's not bad, and has you thinking tactically at times... until you find the autoplay button, good for grinding, but the bane of any semblance of actual gameplay. If these free to play games didn't require you to grind levels for resources or experience this feature would be completely un-needed and I could go on believing that having a brain is actually an advantage.

I've enjoyed BSG:S so far, but I can't see myself playing for long before typical mobile game features put me off. BSG isn't the only game facing these problems, nearly every licencesed mobile game now has the same approach. Nail the aesthetic, plug in a tonne of fan service and skimp on any meaningful gameplay. It's all designed to hook people in, maybe part with some cash, the more they spend the more they are invested in the game and less likely to quit, meaning they'll probably spend even more without even realising they aren't really playing the game any more just clicking through simple tasks to maintain some virtual and artificial sense of achievement. That's not the kind of game addiction I want, although I' not the best at avoiding it (Yes, I am still playing Avengers Academy and no, I don't know why).

Thinking of games I've tried out recently Star Trek Timelines and Avengers Academy are pretty bad culprits alongside BSG, Games from DBZ and Futurama have some similar issues but don't force in-app purchases down your throat. Moving away from the free to play model appears to help; both Space Galaga and Battlefleet Gothic: Leviathan make great use of their licences without skimping on actual gameplay.

I don't hate mobile or casual games, it's just starting to seem like a lot of missed opportunities, it reminds me of the old movie tie in games where character models would be on point, shiny and detailed, but the actual games would butcher the story and just plain suck. It's about time someone took this flare for presentation and backed it up with some high quality gameplay.

Leave a reply
Optional, for replies

No comments posted yet, check back soon.