Based on the
incrediably popular 1980s anime, Robotech has a rather largedare I say
fanaticalfollowing. The anime found success with a simple formula: big
mechs, big guns, big aliens (theyre 40 feet tall), big action, and an
interesting, if not entirely original, apocalyptic, humans on the verge
of obliteration story. Now, almost twenty years after the first series,
Robotech finds new life on the PS2 in the form of Robotech: Battlecry.
Fans of the series, starved for Robotech content, are likely to bless
this game, praise this day, and declare the final product a holy
relicand for what theyre looking for, I think theyd be right. For the
rest of us, however, Robotech: Battlecry doesnt do enough to
distinguish itself in an ever competitive action market and never
achieves anything more than a stylishly-unique mediocrity.
version of the story is, after years of war here on planet earth, a
mysterious technological gadget lands from space. This leads to some
rather stupendous technological discoveries. Then later, forty foot tall
aliens invade looking for their techno-gadget. Naturally, humans create
giant robots to pilot while they fight the giant aliens, with the help
of their mysterious space debris. Of course, the giant aliens have space
ships, and planes, and in short attack on a variety of terrain. Thus the
large mech defenders must be able to adapt quickly. The giant mechs of
Robotech can shapechange between giant robot form, space/jet fighter,
and a sort of hybrid between the two. So begins our war, and the rest,
as they say, is history.
graphics have some definite high points, as the cell-shaded technique
works well here in conveying the aesthetic feel of the anime. Action
packed dog-fights abound with bad-guys and allies alike in a pleasantly
jumbled battle collage. Missiles and machine guns streak in copious
amounts across the sky, littering the larger battles with action and
detail. Smoke and explosion graphics excel in their cell-shaded glory.
Your mech transforms between shapes quickly and smoothly with the touch
of a button. The downside of the graphical presentation is robust.
Missions that take place on earth are hindered by a boring, desolate
landscape devoid of any real feature beyond hills and valleys. Theres
not enough detail in the landscape to keep things looking lively; as a
result, things grow repetitive quickly. The citys fare much better at
first glance and much worse with a second or third. Its nice being
surrounded by huge, brightly colored buildings to shoot, but the second
and subsequent ventures into urban landscapes reveal the same buildings
pasted into new cities and pretty soon everything starts to look the
same. Theres also a lack of detail in the cities. The size of the mechs
and aliens is a major theme, but in the rural missions there is little
to give any kind of scale, so its pretty much just your imagination
telling you how big everything is. In the cities there in nothing
besides the buildings to give scalewhich do go a long way by
themselves, granted. Hordes of screaming people running around while
giants and giant robots slugged it out would have gone a long way too.
Parked and moving vehicles, more vegetation, helicopters, dogs, park
benches and street lights would have added something as well.
aerial combat has its ups and downs as well. These missions are
generally well done. Theres often a hectic feeling from multiple
combatants and the aforementioned quality of smoke, explosions, and
other cell-shaded goodies still applies. Whats missing here is a sense
of speed. There are few things to gauge ones speed by and most of the
time I felt like I was crawlingand I very well might have beenwhen I
should have been racing, dashing, streaking, cutting across the sky.
is spotty as well. The developers obviously went to some lengths to
provide an immersive story, and much of the narrative and mission
objectives are delivered through a video and audio feed on the bottom of
the screen. They even went to the trouble to secure some of the same
voice actors as the original anime. There are two faults here, however.
First, the audio is buggy and disappears and reappears on a whim so a
good chunk of the time youll be reading subtitles anyway. Second, some
of the voice actors sound like theyre bored with their jobs, bored with
their lives, and thats hardly inspiring. The gun and missile sounds are
about average but theres not much variety in them. I have it on good
authority that the missile and gun sounds do not match the anime, which
may or may not be significant to youit wasnt to me.
is done moderately well. Movement is slow in some respects: turning
around and strafing are too slow for an effective giant killing machine,
but the targeting and tracking system is simple and effective, making
battles in Robotech abundantly playable.
You can even target multiple enemies at once and unleash a missile
swarm to take down all of them. Fortunately, you have unlimited ammo,
though it does take time to recharge so you cant just tape down the
fire buttonwhich is a good thing.
Fans of Robotech will no doubt be overjoyed with the title, and its
a strong recommendation for them. They will find little difficulty
overlooking the bugs and other drawbacks and will find that the liscense
more than compensates for any weaknesses in gameplay. For the rest of
us, Robotech: Battlecry just doesnt do anything to really stand out in
a market glutted with games; in a season thats producing many of the
best games ever made, theres not a lot to recommend the average ones.