Battle Group 2 Switch Review by SwitchWatch
Developer: Bane Games
Publisher: Merge Games
Release Date: Out Now
Price as of Article: $8.99 USD, £7.99 GBP
Game code provided by Merge Games for review
A deadly new terrorist group called the Talon seeks vengeance on high seas, commanding huge array of planes and vessels, they strike innocents with precision attacks. In this war, you’re a gunner on a huge battleship and you’re confronted by insurmountable odds! Thankfully, you’re equipped with some serious fire power!
As soon as game starts, it’s straight into gameplay. No flashy intros. Just some spoken dialogue and you’re thrown into the tutorial section that’s pretty brief but it gives you the basics.
What is apparent at the very beginning is this was and still is a mobile title at heart. There are no extra features here on the Switch version or anything added into the game as Switch exclusive. It’s all by the numbers.
There one mode that contains 30 missions, 8 ships with unique weaponry, and 3 power ups to use.
Man the guns!
Each level has your vessel or vessels moving automatically across a vast ocean. There’s no need to worry about navigation as it’s all out of your hands.
Water itself looks pretty realistic but there’s an option to switch effects to low which gives it a very low texture, slightly retro look.
Campaign is the main mode and all the other options are pretty sub-standard.
Your role as a gunner is set in stone – you’ll never be able do anything else. That’s not a bad thing as the shooting is quite satisfying in Battle Group 2.
Controls feel a little strange at first as you only control a light blue cursor/reticle which moves around the screen with the left analog stick and you can speed it up with a press of the R bumper. You can fire shots with A button but it’s all about predicting where enemies are heading as it takes time for your missiles to fire and fly to a target area. So it’s always best to fire ahead of the target so that blast radius destroys them and maybe other crafts in the vicinity.
The terror group Talon has a collection of jets, stealth bombers, and experimental crafts trying sink your vessels.
It can become very tricky firing missiles to take down multiple jets at once, however, if you are successful, you’ll be rewarded and it feels pretty good too.
Thankfully, after your main ship is stolen at very beginning of the game, you realise that you’re going to need a new vessel. There are 8 ships you can buy as you progress through the 30 missions. You can buddy up your main ship with a partner ship for little extra fire power!
However, these require money to buy, or in this case, little green containers that you receive after each level based on your performance.
There is an upgrade menu before each mission where you can spend money on new ships or upgrade them – it’s up to you.
Each of the ship has their own health points as well as there own weapon configurations.
The first ship has the ability to fire missiles and can be upgraded with additional health points and more ammunition. Same goes for the partner ship.
You can control and fire your own weapons but the partner ship acts a little differently.
While you can target your main weapons with the analog stick, you have to manually activate your partner ship’s abilities. How? It’s very simple – all you need to do is to move your cursor over the weapons icon of your partner ship and press the A button. After this, your partner ship will fire or deploy its jets or weapons automatically. It will go into a reload/cool down timer before it can be used again.
These timers can be ungraded to reduce wait time in the upgrade menu.
A cool little feature is seeing your vessel take damage over time and knowing that if you don’t do something about the approaching threat, all of the incoming missiles will send your ships down to see Davey Jones’ locker deep below the ocean!
The explosions look pretty cool too. Using the slow down power is pretty cool you get to see dozens of missiles doing a number from the Matrix while you blast all of them out of the sky!
It’s a shame that these don’t a have cool down period, instead, you have to purchase them every time you run out.
Some of your ships have unique weapons such as the ability to call harrier jets to destory enemies for you or use your artillery to take down missiles from the sky in quick succession.
While controls work fine on the Switch, there are some issues that are a little annoying.
There are 3 unique powers you can use in the game: one can slow down time; other one can help you reload instantly; and the last one creates an EMP that destroy all incoming missiles which is really useful in pinch! Powers aren’t the problem. It’s the lack of onscreen prompts for the special powers.
Where as in the mobile version, you could simply touch power up icons to use them. On the Switch version, it tells you to press the directional pad buttons but doesn’t tell you what direction to press for each one. So at the beginning, it became annoying as I kept pressing the wrong buttons and using the wrong powers until they were depleted. Not a huge deal but annoying considering I needed to buy the powers again once they were all used up.
These powers cost anywhere from 100 to 300 green canisters.
With my short term memory, it became highly frustrating trying to remember what inputs I needed to press for each of the powers.
So after realising I needed more powers, I started trying to get more money and that’s were grinding begins. It becomes a bit of slog having to replay missions over and over again to require enough cash so I could buy something new or upgrade the ship. And at one point, I lost interest as it just took too long to collect enough. Grinding is never a fun gameplay element and does nothing for Battle Group 2.
As you strike and destroy more planes with your missiles, you’ll slowly build up a streak bonus. If you manage to keep the streak going after you’ve completed the mission, you will be rewarded handsomely.
Remember that each missile you fire has a blast radius. It’s more about predicting the movement of the approaching planes or crafts you’re homing in on and try and use your missiles’ blast radius to hit multiple targets or rockets.
Also, your captain talks to you throughout the game, telling you how close you are to completing a mission. There’s a progress bar at top which will fill as the mission continues. Once it’s full, the mission is completed.
Each mission has 4 stars that need to be filled at end of missions. This comes down to how efficient you were in battle and your streak bonus!
And this will generate you a small fortune too!
I’ve checked out the mobile version and the controls are super tight on the Android version. I have to say though that I like the controls more on the Switch just because I like using buttons and stick better. What is apparent in the Switch version is the absence of the micro transactions which is fine by me. However, what isn’t fine is the missing achievements option that isn’t in the Switch version, as well as the online leaderboards which is shame as it could have helped prolong gameplay time if they had been included.
There’s very little music in the game. I do like the calming music in the main menu and on the pause menu. But for the most part, all of the sounds you’ll hear are your missiles firing, your captain speaking, alerts of the damage you have taken, when weapon reloads are ready to fire again, and the explosions, including the planes flying over head. All sound effects are really good. They make you feel like you’re in a heated battle on the high seas – all pretty authentic nautical sounds.
Visuals of the game do look rather nice as I like the high quality water effects and ships are nicely designed too. Everything is clear and sleek.
In the later missions, especially 28 through to 30, I found a little slowdown happens when there are loads of planes and missiles on the screen together. It didn’t happen up to that point but I think it needs to be mentioned.
Other than that, there are no crashes or any other issues to speak of.
Game supports screen-shots but doesn’t support video capture, sadly.
Game also supports cloud saves.
For £7.99, you’re getting an enjoyable nautical shooter with an interesting way of fighting. There are multiple ships to unlock and there are 30 missions to blast through. Price point isn’t bad for what’s on offer.
Just wish there was little bit more of it. I was just getting into the swing of things then it was all over.
8 different ships to buy/upgrade
No extra features
Can be grindy
Not much replay value