Published on May 3rd, 2018 | by Michael Newman0
Battle Fleet Ground Assault
Ever since I was a kid I’ve been fond of military based strategy games. I began my long journey with military games when I played my first game of RISK. From there I worked up to the more complex titles, initially with board games such as Axis and Allies, then to much more complicated games from publishers such as Avalon Hill and their amazing Gulf Strike game. As I got older, much of the strategy genre leapt from the tabletop onto the computer screen, and I played games such as SSI Panzer General or more recently Relic’s unforgettable Company of Heroes. Battle Fleet: Ground Assault appeals to those who are looking for a fun, turn-based, tactical war game, yet want a game simple enough to jump into and play right away. It succeeds at this…mostly.
Battle Fleet: Ground Assault, puts you at the helm of numerous tanks, battling across Western Europe during WWII. The game starts out with a map of both Axis and Allied controlled territories and you take turns identifying locations to attack and control in an effort to win the war. The map displays the country, as well as who controls it, and various other detailed information such as the number of factories in the country, artillery present, airfields, etc. In general RISK like fashion, you identify the territory you want to attack, select it, and then you are teleported to the battlefield where you and your opponent take turns duking it out for control of the territory by wiping each other’s tanks off the face of the Earth.
The battlefields are fairly barren, although there are mountains and buildings that you can utilize to gain an advantage over your opponent. At the bottom of the screen are a list of icons that represent which unit’s turn it is. The gameplay is pretty simplistic, you move your units across the map, trying to position yourself in the most advantageous way possible. Each unit (with some exceptions) has the option to move and/or fire and has a specific maximum range that it can fire at. You attack the enemy by lining up your shot (with the mouse/keyboard), and then moving a slider bar to select your range. If you successfully hit your opponent’s tank, it will do damage and that damage can affect the tank’s movement, ammunition, crew, or if damaged enough, destroy the tank entirely. Scattered throughout the battlefield are crates that when captured provide “command cards” that grant special abilities. These abilities can be something as simple as granting the player improved aiming or allowing them to call in an airstrike. It adds a little bit more variety than simply going tank-to-tank and can turn the tide of a battle if used at the right time. Play continues until all your opponent’s tanks are destroyed.
While I certainly can appreciate making a game accessible enough for even novice strategy gamers, in my opinion combat was a bit too simplistic. It comes down to simply pointing your barrel at the enemy and guessing how far away the enemy is. If you miss, you adjust your range and fire again, and so on and so on. You’d think playing against a computer AI would make it easy for them to adjust their shots and knock out your tanks, but sadly sometimes the AI will wildly overshoot the player. I understand that it may be complicated when you are relying on these simple mechanics to make the AI act like a human player would, but sometimes I felt like the AI was taking it easier on me than it should have.
This leads me to my next point, if it isn’t already obvious this game involves tank combat…and only tank combat. Yes, there are some artillery units you take command of and some support trucks, but otherwise it’s all tanks, all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I love tanks, but it is difficult to immerse yourself in a WWII strategy game, where there is nothing BUT tanks. Does that make the tank combat any less fun? Not really, but it does mean that other than the types of tanks you unlock or use, the game play is always the same. If you’re looking for a grand strategy game where you get to relive some of the greatest battles of WWII, then Battle Fleet isn’t going to provide that. It’s something to be aware of going into it so you know what to expect.
Graphically the game is nice. It’s not the prettiest looking game, but the individual tanks are detailed enough that they are still fun to look at. Otherwise the landscape is fairly bland, some buildings here or there (which are destructible…which is a nice touch), maybe a field, and some hills. Nothing to really write home about. It’s functional for sure, and doesn’t detract from the gameplay per se, but it’s not going to win any blue ribbons in the art department.
The tutorial is barebones to say the least. It gives you a brief overview of how to move your tank or change your angle but doesn’t go into any other detail. This game basically throws you into the deep end of the pool and waits to see if you sink. Thankfully, the game is not terribly complex, so it’s not too hard to pick up and learn. I just appreciate when developers take the time to explain their game in a bit more detail…heck even RISK comes with a 16-page manual. There are little nuances that I still struggle to understand what their role is so a bit more thorough documentation would have been nice.
All my gripes aside, I still had a blast playing this game. It’s refreshing to play a strategy game that doesn’t bog itself down with lots of rules or icons to learn. If you take Battle Fleet for what it is, a simple, but fun, tank game there is a lot to enjoy. Not everyone wants a grand strategy game, or a game that seems overly complex and inaccessible, and I certainly think Battle Fleet: Ground Assault would fit that bill. Missions last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, so you can easily jump in for a quick game and then carry on with the rest of your day. Battle Fleet is a game that’s fun to play, doesn’t require a lot of preparation and you won’t have to relearn how to play it if you step away for a while. Now everyone climb into your tanks and move out…make Patton proud!
What I liked: Accessible, Selection of tanks, Only tank combat
What I liked less: Lacking tutorial, Graphics are a bit dated, Only tank combat
3.5 out of 5 stars