It's a sad thing to say that, considering Battlestar Galactica is such an iconic series, it doesn't have much representation in the world of video games. While there have been a plethora of titles - both hits and misses - spawned from other major sci-fi film and TV franchises like Star Wars and Star Trek, BSG has been somewhat forgotten and left by the wayside. At least that has changed.
For those not au fait with the story, it goes a little something like this; there were 12 colonies on 12 planets all named after star signs (like Caprica). These colonies had these huge star fleets comprising of capital ships called Battlestars as well as ship-to-ship fighters called Vipers. The colonies built robots called Cylons and, a la Terminator, they turned on their fleshy masters. Thus there were two wars, and while the show focused on the second one, this prequel focusses on the conflict in the first war.
This trip into the past is something that we think fans will really appreciate as there is so much that is familiar about Deadlock and you'll feel instantly at home. That said, it also has plenty to offer those who only have a rough knowledge of the series, and even those unfamiliar with the show but who simply enjoy space combat experiences.
What we have here is a highly enjoyable space strategy game with resource management elements, with the highlights coming in combat. Rather than being an all-action blast 'em up where you pilot a ship around a star-strewn battlefield, this is a dogfight for tactically-minded players. Get ready for turn-based combat where you plan your moves ahead of time, plot your route, consider your movements and firing arcs, and place your ships ready for the next turn.
In battle, you have a couple of tactical options. The Battlestars, for example, are slow and cumbersome but have a lot of firepower behind them (there are also smaller ships that are much more manoeuvrable). It's up to you whether you're conservative or aggressive, but advance too far and you can get blindsided by a Cylon attack. Once you press the move button, both yours and your enemy's moves play out, accompanied by beautiful sound effects ripped straight out of the series.
There's also fighter combat, which was an important part of the series too. You launch your Viper squadrons from stations and Battlestars and watch the chaos ensue. The ability to select them as a squadron and click on what you want them to take on works really well, too.
And that's us only scratching the surface of the tactical options that are on offer. There are more other elements to think about, for example, during each turn, you have the option to carry out repairs (although you have to know when and what to repair). Another option is to fire torpedoes, but these have a long reloading time and you don't want to waste them. Do you repair? Do you back off and regroup? Or is time to go for the final hurrah!?
When it comes to moving your fleet, rather than just being on one plain, you have the option to climb or dive, which can help you avoid collisions and get a vertical advantage. Unlike many space combat games, this helps to really capture the 3D nature of space. In fact, the space combat was great fun and each turn felt important because your decisions really matter. In some ways, the level of thought made it feel like space chess. The only sad thing is that at times during a lengthy battle it can get little repetitive, not that it ruined our experience.
Along with the main missions in the campaign, there are also side quests, which only adds to what is already a fulsome and deep strategy experience. Even between the missions, there is more strategy to be considered as you involve yourself with resource management. Deciding how to use and allocate your resources on new ships will have an impact on your next battle. It also means that you don't want to lose a ship, as the impact of doing so can be felt in future battles - wasted and/or lost resources can really come back to haunt you.
As we stated before, you don't have to be a fan of the series to enjoy Battlestar Galactica Deadlock, but it does help. Having watched the series, you will be increasingly aware of how the different ships function, and some of the comments and references will probably make you smile.
We've already mentioned the audio, but the graphics are also pretty good. There's not much to look at in the bleak darkness of space, but the ships look decent enough from a distance, and the overall visual style works really well and evokes the source material. Having said that, when you do pull in a bit too close to the ships they can look a bit rough. Beyond that, the interface was easy to use and get to grips with. It looks a bit complicated at first, but you soon find yourself whizzing around easily enough, and it even works well on a controller, which surprised us.
Along with the campaign mode, there is also a skirmish option focussed solely on combat, but without the resource management in between, this part of the game felt a little pointless to us. Still, generally speaking, Battlestar Galactica Deadlock is the kind of tie-in that fans of the series have been crying out for. It's a deep and interesting space combat strategy game with an excellent resource management element, and while it's definitely one for fans of the show, anyone who enjoys this kind of sci-fi strategy should check it out.
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