Battlestar Galactica

Format: PS2
Vivendi Universal/Warthog
Age Restrictions: 12+

The epic battle to save mankind has begun. Fight as the young Adama as he begins his heroic journey through the universe. Engage in fierce combat against the Cylons using advanced tactics and an arsenal of weapons in you efforts to save humankind...

You are going to need a lot of patience to be able to get through this game without feeling cheated. You start off in the midst of a heavy battle and must destroy Cylon vessels as they attack you and the Battlestar Galactica.

And that is where the game developers make their first big mistake. The opening levels are too difficult. You reach the same point and fail time and time again. There is no training mission, no weapons practice, nothing that will have you tweaking your flying and targeting skills. So, to start you in the midst of battle (and a hard one at that) is crazy. Why not start with a simple training mission to help you get used to the controls?

Not only that, but once you finally manage to complete one section, you are confronted with another, more difficult challenge which, if you fail, sends you right back to the start of the game. Save points come at the end of missions, so you are going to spend a lot of time replaying the same levels over and over again. And this makes it frustrating.

Hell, your talking to a guy who owns all of the Wing Commander games - and has completed them all too. So, it's not as though I'm not used to this sort of game (which means that I am also no stranger to flying around in space going through the motions of shooting vessel after vessel).

Now that was my reaction after playing the game for a day. But, once you've got the hang of the controls, discovered how to recalibrate your weapons systems, and got to grips with how your vessel handles, this game is really pretty addictive.

The graphics and sound are stunning - although you are usually flying too fast to appreciate the detail of the enemy ships - and the missions, while annoyingly difficult, do give you a feeling of overwhelming satisfaction once you've managed to complete them.

The between game movie animation is pretty slick too. Actually, I had to laugh at the cheek of the opening credit sequence. The name of the first person to bite the bullet is Lucas. This might not mean much to most people, but those who are as old as me might remember one George Lucas threatening to sue the makers of the Battlestar Galactica TV series because he claimed it was too similar to Star Wars.

This game is going to get mixed reviews in the gaming press - that much is certain. First impressions are poor. But, scratch below this shallow surface and there is an extremely well polished game hiding underneath.

Nick Smithson

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