Battle: LA was developed by Live Action Studios and published by Konami. It was released March 11th, 2011 and retails for 800MSP. A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
Battle: LA continues a recent trend of movie license games coming to downloadable platforms. It’s a strategy that has been met with some success – Scott Pilgrim vs. The World took the spirit of the movie/comic it was based on and created a great game with it. Smaller downloadable games often have shorter development time and small budgets so it actually makes sense for publishers to target the market for these types of games.
With Battle: LA developer Live Action Studios appears to be trying to bring the big budget shooter experience, a la Call of Duty, to XBLA. It’s an idea that seems good in theory, most of said shooters have fairly short campaigns which would be well suited to an XBLA game, but does it work in practice?
Here’s what we liked:
Impressive visuals – Considering it’s an XBLA game Battle: LA is a surprisingly good looking game. It won’t give Call of Duty or Halo Reach a run for their money but it does have some nice visual effects, with impactful explosions and fluid character animations. The game also manages a few moments of arresting scale which you rarely see in XBLA games.
Set-pieces – For a game about an alien invasion you’d expect lots of interesting action set-pieces. There aren’t many (for reasons outlined below) but there are a few cool set-piece moments throughout the game. Aliens will constantly be falling to earth, complete with a cool streak of smoke and fire, billboards will be shot down and land nearby with appropriately grand crashes and debris and there are some other little moments involving planes being shot and the like. These are generally will executed and do add some atmosphere that the game otherwise lacks.
Here’s what we didn’t like:
Can you say short? – Battle: LA has three difficulty levels, the standard Easy, Medium and Hard. Each one can be played through in less than an hour. This would be acceptable if there was some replay value to be had. However there is very little reason to replay the game, even though there are unlockables. By completing the game on each difficulty (unlocks and achievements do not stack so you will need to finish each difficulty separately) you will unlock concept art, small behind the scenes videos and “mods” (essentially cheats). None of these unlocks are particularly interesting and they certainly don’t warrant the three separate playthroughs required to acquire them.
Unoriginal and generic – At this point we have a countless amount of first person shooters, and in order to stand out from the crowd a new FPS needs to bring something unique or interesting to the crowded genre. Call of Duty has its bombastic blockbuster campaign and expertly executed multiplayer model, Halo has its grandiose sci-fi storyline and unique multiplayer gameplay. Battle: LA does absolutely nothing that hasn’t been done before, there are no unique weapons, the combat scenarios require almost no skill or strategy and the gunplay is weak, boring and just plain not fun.
Battle: LA is an interesting experiment, unfortunately it seems half-hearted. The insultingly short and shallow campaign will do very little to sate most FPS players’ needs. Production values are all over the place; while the game’s engine is mildly impressive, the cutscenes (essentially a motion comic) and voice overs are of shockingly low quality.
There is simply not enough content here to warrant anyone paying 800 points. Even at half the price it would be a difficult game to recommend with so many more interesting and fulfilling experiences to be found on XBLA.
Score: Skip it
Second Opinion by Andrew Crews:
Although Battle: LA may be short, it’s still worth a quick run through the demo. The gameplay moves along fairly quick which may actually be a good thing. Too many games prolong advancement with mind-numbing waves of enemies and Battle: LA showcases firefights that are quick and painless. There are some obvious problems with the game, but none of those issues should be considered deal-breakers. If you try the demo and you like what you see, maybe wait for a sale price. A $5 price tag is much easier to justify than the current $10 price.
Score: Try It