Licensed games have it tough; Gamers never give them a chance and the default opinion is “phoned in cash grab”. Battle: Los Angeles doesn’t exactly run contrary to this opinion, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. Just nothing special.
In Battle: LA you play as part of Echo Squad fighting for control of the streets of Los Angeles against unknown alien invaders. The game’s 3 missions closely follow the plot of the movie, and you get to play through some of the movie’s more iconic scenes. As part of a squad of marines you don’t fight alone, and this game is impressive in that your squadmates actually do help you and are more than just target practice for the aliens.
Battle: LA plays very similarly to a Call of Duty game. You run through a linear level while scripted events happen periodically and shoot down the iron sights at the enemies. It’s very much a Call of Duty Lite, because nothing this game does ever reaches the excitement of your favorite Call of Duty. Everything is very sterile, with all the levels consisting of the same run down streets, only one type of enemy, and just 3 weapons. Things aren’t as bad as they seem, though, because the game is pretty short (playing on normal should only take you an hour or so) so nothing gets the chance to become old or tiresome. The firefights themselves are solid if straightforward, consisting of both sides ducking behind cover and taking potshots at one another until everyone keels over. Surprisingly, the environments are destructible and seeing pillars get blown apart and glass shatter adds a bit of atmosphere to an otherwise simple engagement. At times the gameplay is mixed up a bit by giving you a machine gun turret or tasking you to flank the enemy alone to take out their heavy artillery, but there’s still not a whole lot to it other than “shoot that way”.
Graphically, the game is a mixed bag. It uses a comic book style for cut-scenes and tries to translate the same style into the gameplay. It never looks bad, but there always seems to be a lack of detail in all the environments and a fair amount of texture pop-in. The animations in particular could use a lot of work, as everything is very floaty and nothing ever feels like it has any weight to it. Everything from your character’s running animation to the explosion of vehicles to an enemy falling over dead looks very lifeless.
There’s a distinct lack of excitement that permeates every aspect of Battle: Los Angeles. The gun battles never feel fierce, and even on the harder difficulties it never feels like you’re actually fighting for your life. For the most part it just feels like you’re going through the motions. Whatever plot there is to be had in the game is nearly incomprehensible if you haven’t seen the movie, since it merely gives you the key scenes without any context. Let’s be honest though, you’re not playing this for the plot anyway. Unfortunately there’s no multiplayer to be had here, although the game does comes with a surprisingly robust set of unlockables, featuring things like making of movies and artwork.
Battle: Los Angeles is a very plain game. There’s nothing to differentiate it from the myriad of other shooters on the market, but there’s nothing particularly heinous about it either. If you’re hard up for an action game you could do worse, but your $10 would be better spent seeing the movie it’s based upon.
*Konami provided SlimGamer.com with a promo code for a review copy.