“Alright soldier! You’ve got one job! Take your gear and march forward towards the enemy encampment!”
“What then sir!?”
“What then!? You keep on marching soldier!”
“Sir Yes Sir!”
And that is exactly what you do as a Battalion Commander. You march forward guns blazing against any and all that stand in your way. Don’t worry though as you won't be going at it alone. Along the warpath there are trapped soldiers that can be recruited along the way in order to help you out. As a perk of the job, as you get promoted through the ranks the number of possible soldiers under your command increases and the available gear gets better.
Gameplay is rather easy as a good portion of it handles itself. Your Battalion Commander moves forward and the only input required from you is moving him from left to right or up and down the screen as it moves forward. Taking care of pulling the trigger himself (hurray for unlimited ammo!) all you need to do is place the enemy in your crosshairs to remove them from your path. That’s the easy part. Making it through? That’s a different story.
You’ll be dying. A lot.* Think of it as groundhog day if it had a twisted sick sense of humour as it decided to change where things are on you every time that you move forwards. This I can say was a good thing to have as you’ll be seeing the first few hundred meters. A LOT.* Having enemies in different positions, groupings, tanks, armored personnel carriers, and helicopters coming in at you randomly does help keep things interesting though.
Along with the randomness of your enemies, the same can be said from your forces point of view. Soldiers that can be freed and then join you also also random in both where and when they appear as well as the profession (grenadier, rocket launchers, marksmen, and riflemen) that they hold. The difference between the two is that after every death, experience is accumulated and works towards your next rank. Once you are promoted you obtain access to upgrades both for yourself and for those that join with you. Grenadiers instead of lobbing grenades now hold flamethrowers for example. Now while your forces have obtained upgrades, it doesn’t mean that the random placements of enemy forces will make it easier. If anything? They get “more” in order to throw a wrench in your plans.
These two elements are really what make Battalion Commander what it is. You get access to more, the enemy has more to throw at you. It’s a vicious cycle that makes you continually have to get better. You get access to a perk for example that grants the Commander a vehicle to start off with that not only moves fast but allows you to run over the enemies that are on foot. This makes the first two to four hundred meters easier to move through until of course the enemy literally swarm you with everything they have to destroy your vehicle. Things fall back to normal once your squad is back on its feet instead of behind a wheel.
The concept of gameplay is easy to get behind but hard to master. There are only two gameplay modes, campaign and endless, but honestly the thrill of making it that much further acts as a driving force in order to better yourself. Battalion Commander can either be a quick and easy play especially if you have the Vita version, or a good way to pass the afternoon as you repeatedly try to make it further. The only disappointment is with the visual backdrops as it’s a steady repetition of snow -> spring grass with snow -> summer green grass -> snow.
Battalion Commander is quick and easy fun that can either pass a few minutes or pass a few hours. While it may be single player it’s easy to pass the controller over to a friend to see who can get the furthest and claim bragging rights.
*Or maybe that was just me as I progressively learned what “not” to do.
Shoot 'Em Up
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Article by Pierre-Yves