As of late I have been watching the re imagined seasons of Battlestar Galactica, and whilst I felt season one was a bit lacking, season two picked up the pace and since then I’ve been hooked. Watching BSG again reminded me of a game by the same name I played awhile back on the PS2, I couldn’t finish the first mission and ultimately gave up on it. It turns out my mentality was similar to ‘Starbuck’s’ in the series, in that I felt I was just there to kill toasters and nothing else, and thus the mission objective never got completed. Never the less, I have decided to go back and face this adversary again and I’m happy to say with better results.
Battlestar Galctica, is a mix between a flight-sim and an action game, think Ace Combat and the like just set in the BSG universe. The game is based on the original BSG, so sadly that means you won’t be getting to pilot the newer Viper MK VII and pretend your Apollo, you will instead be spending most of your time in variants of the MK II, which may be better or worse depending on your preference. As for Cylon ships, the trademark raider everyone is used to is reserved for the later missions, being a more elite fighter compared to the standard oblong raiders they throw at you in the early missions. Other ships include a colonial bomber that is about as effective in combat as an air whale and, in some cases, you will be allowed to take control of the defence turrets on Galactica, which is slightly disappointing and makes up the duller and more frustrating parts of the game.
This being an early PS2 game, multiplayer wasn’t really an option, so what games from this era lacked in player vs player online features they have to make up in singleplayer variety and depth. BSG’s main draw then, is the chance to fight around the capital ships of the series, one of the early missions throws you in at the deep end in this regard, by having you assaulting a Cylon base star, where you must take out its heavy weapons before your own battlestar is destroyed. The mission has a nice feel to it, flying your Viper right up to the Base star and then skimming its hull whilst you methodically take out the objectives, it has that Deathstar attack run vibe to it, and don’t tell me you never wanted to do that. Other missions include the usual array of escort and defence stuff, and there is also a bomber related mission later on as well, so the game would appear to keep fresh for a reasonable amount of time whilst having some surprisingly good visuals for the time. The character models are nothing to write home about, 2003 facial animation was horrid at best so there is nothing new there, but as for the ships, they are surprisingly accurate, the textures on the capital ships are a bit lacking, but as for the Vipers and Raiders, the models and textures are good. Team with this some surprisingly pretty backdrops in the form of planets and nebulae and the game puts on quite a show despite being dated.
Despite my new found fondness for this game there were two issues that presented themselves upon my return to this game, upon finding them they actually made me feel less bad about failing to progress through it all those years ago. First and most to blame for my incompetence all those years ago, is the way the objective system works. Your HUD doesn’t display the markers, you’ll get a bit of dialogue between command and your wing men explaining the situation, but from then on it is up to you to work it out. Now there is a button that if you hold it, it will highlight what the objective target is, but in a flight game, it is incredibly easy to get disorientated and as soon as you release that button the marker disappears and your left trying to orientate yourself, this became increasingly annoying during the aforementioned basestar attack, finding those last few turrets before the Atlantia was blown into tiny pieces was a bit stressful. Second is the target select, It is great when it works, the system presents you with a reticule that tells you how far to lead your target thus making destroying them a lot easier, but when it doesn’t it becomes a nuisance. The game seems to cycle through all the available targets in a set order, rather than selecting the raider you’re on the tail of, leaving you with the option of eyeballing it or hitting the next target button until it catches on.
Now, I original bought this game from a local Woolworths for about £15, this should give you a margin of how long ago I last played it. It was after the re imagine series first aired on Sky One and I liked what I saw, most of all I liked the design of the Viper MKII fighter. I know some stand by Star Wars’ X-Wing being the best fighter, but for me it is the Colonial Viper and as is the case with Sci-Fi vehicles I wanted to pilot one and saw this game as a prime opportunity to do so. In that regard I wasn’t disappointed. Battlestar Galactica was a fun game and it is still fun today, it has an arcade’ feel that most modern games don’t really have. It does disappoint me that there haven’t really been other games that have used this setting. The most recent game to do so was Battlestar Galactica Online, which does have the PvP elements that are missing here, but the overall low level gameplay is a bit tedious as it mainly means mining away at asteroids for resources. Some have even compared it to a striped down version of EVE Online, and I can kind of see where they’re coming from. The only redeeming feature of BSGO is the large engagements that feature either faction capital ship, watching a fleet move across the sector with ruthless efficiency is certainly something, I had a surprising success rate at predicting where the Cylon Basestar would be jumping to next allowing for us to put up a better defence.
Overall then Battlestar Galactica is a fun game to kill some time. it is by no means perfect, the faulty targeting system makes sure of that, but it is a game I will remember. One for being the first game that actually stumped me and second because after its second chance it showed me how fun a somewhat obscure old game can be, and I probably said this in my last ‘A Look Back At’ feature, but fun is what games should be all about, and these old titles have it in buckets.