Battle Group 2 from Merge Games for the Nintendo Switch puts you in command of a warship under siege from an unknown foe. As the game progresses, you wage war with this mysterious enemy and – using the oil gained from blowing them up – purchase upgrades for your ship and arsenal to better combat them and stop their mission of destruction.
Battle Group 2 is fundamentally sound and fun at times, but it’s a short game with little replayability, making for a great bite-sized adventure better suited for those looking for a quick play with little long-term commitment.
At the beginning of Battle Group 2, you’re thrown into battle with no introduction to the controls at all. They’re simple enough, but one thing you’ll NEED to know is that the L1 button speeds up your cursor, allowing you to target enemies faster. This button is an absolute necessity, and it’s impossible – especially in the later stages – to even fathom beating a level without it. It’s more than a little confusing that you’re left to find out about it by trial and error, and I lost a few times early on before I discovered it. An interesting design choice for sure.
The game itself is simple enough. It’s reminiscent of Missile Command for the Atari 2600, where you’re firing rockets at approaching enemies, trying to blow them up. This one takes place entirely on the ocean with enemies coming your way in various forms including planes and helicopters that fire rockets at you and ships that try and ram your hull. The whole premise is just to shoot the rockets and boats before they reach you. Simple. The issue I have is that it’s basically that same premise for the entire 30 levels with very little in the way of variety. There are a few missions where you “protect” a passenger plane (and by protect I mean just make sure you don’t hit it with your own missiles) and two boss battles – one of which is the final fight – that are practically identical. The difficulty increase is simply due to the developer filling the screen with more enemies.
The increased amount of enemies can be handled more easily by upgrading your ship, ammo and secondary escort using the oil obtained from defeating enemy crafts. The upgrades don’t come cheap though. They’re so expensive that I was on level 28/30 before I upgraded to my SECOND primary ship. That’s practically the whole game! I was gaining about 20-50 oil cans per level, and upgraded my weapons and ammo to their maximum on my first primary ship, but couldn’t afford to upgrade for practically the rest of the game. It’s also a little crazy to think that I went through almost the entire game on my basic ship with little in the way of overall upgrades. I understand that the expectation from the developer is that you replay older levels in order to obtain enough oil to upgrade, but in a story driven game – and I use ‘story’ loosely – it’s impractical to go back to a previous story point to get more oil, as it completely takes you out of the immersion. Some people may be OK with it, but it just didn’t do anything for me.
Speaking of the story – I’m not entirely sure where the enemy – known as “The Talon” – comes from, or why they’re attacking me, and you don’t really discover any more after playing through the campaign. Their goal seems to be to simply cause destruction, yet I’m not entirely sure why. The dialogue isn’t great at the best moments and I was greeted with random quotes like “Easy As Pie!” after a mission where I escaped by the skin of my teeth, or the strangely put “Thank You Taxpayers!” after one mission making the whole thing seem a bit thrown together. The overall package seems a little hollow, and the repetitive gameplay makes this a decent once-through, but there isn’t much value in terms of replayability.
Overall, the game is fun and even addictive at times, and anyone looking for a quick break would probably find some value here. If you’re looking for a fleshed out story experience or a real challenge however, you’re going to need to look elsewhere.
If you’ve played it, let us know what you think in the comments!