Battlestar Galactica: Deadlock – XBox One Review

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They say that you should always be wary when something has a colon in the title because there’s a strong correlation between the presence of a colon and the likelihood of something to be something that comes out of your colon. Battlestar Galactica: Deadlock is however far from something that comes out of your colon, but while I will go as far to say as it’s not rubbish I won’t go as far as to say it’s great.

Let me clarify my position here, I like Battlestar Galactica the TV series, not enough to watch it all the way to the very end, because it started to drag on a bit but what I saw I liked for the most part. I like the universe that has been built around Battlestar Galactica also, its steeped in intrigue and peril with lore coming out the wazzoo so it very much deserves a game which invests in this and explores it further. I will also say, I am a huge fan of the original X-Com games, from whence this game takes a significant amount of influence and turn based strategy games in general.

It is therefore somewhat upsetting that I have to admit I’ve fallen out with this game, and that might be down to my chosen method of playing it. Turn based strategy games are far more forgiving to console players who can plan their manoeuvres and strategy while not suffering at the lack of a mouse and keyboard, but I still find myself crying out for one, my experience on the Xbox One is that this game controls pretty horribly for the most part, and while developers Slitherine have gone to great pains to make a game that will work on a standard controller and while it handles nicely enough it still feels awkward without a mouse wheel and well… a mouse

The story, what there is of it is told through text boxes and audio logs at the main hub and during missions but for the most part the story is lacklustre. These events of the game take place during the first Cylon war, you play a Colonial Commander of Rear Admiral Lucinda Cain, presumably a relative of the Rear Admiral Helena Cain of the series and are essentially in command of the entire colonial fleet. The game starts after a devastating attack wipes out Colonial HQ breaking the deadlock of four years of war, hence Battlestar Galactica: Deadlock. The surviving ships and the fleets mobile (IKR) ship yard are left to turn the tide of the war against the Cylons and save the 12 Colonies

While inspired by turn based strategy games like X-Com there are a few extra lessons which I wish Battlestar Galactica: Deadlock had learned. Such as, tell me what a menu item is or means, don’t give me an obscure picture and expect me to understand it, its clunky and unintuitive. What X-Com and some games like it aren’t afraid of is sub-menus, or tabs to break up what I’m doing. Quite a lot of the stuff you’re required to do is basically standing in the middle of a room moving fleets around a board, assigning personnel, building ships and trying to blow up Cylons.

I’d love the option of a cursor, say by tapping down on one of the analogue sticks because scrolling back and forth between fleets all over the known galaxy is a pain in the backside. Factor in I might want to move some ships between my different combat fleets it becomes a big pain in the backside. When I’ve got loads of ships to move around the galaxy to form fleets and move ships around it’s a double stacked pain in the backside with a side of whipped cream and blueberries!

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Game itself looks spectacular, I can’t fault the attention to detail in the graphics, particularly in the combat missions, ships made for the game are loving made and faithful to the style of BSG, even ships that give a wonderful nod to the series of the late 1970’s but still maintain a faithful look to the modern Battlestar Galactica style. Each ship has a spectacular level of detail and there’s a great deal of thought into providing different ships for different jobs to build your fleet in a way that offers a variety of playstyles and approaches.

The Mission view is a pretty spectacular addition, which allows you to watch a full speed cinematic of your battles when they’re finished, and I have to send some huge compliments to Slitherine for that because as much as I thought I wouldn’t be interested in that I very much was, it’s pretty satisfying to see all your hard work paying off in real time, particularly if you blow the Cylons away really quickly.

The Mission Variety in Battlestar Galactica: Deadlock is largely limited, which is disappointing. Some of the story missions have a little bit of variety but the mission is largely jump place and destroy the Cylons. Sometimes it might be jump to place, destroy a thing and then destroy the Cylons or Jump to place and protect the thing, the best approach to achieving which is to destroy the Cylons a bit quicker. On a couple of occasions there are bad guys other than Cylons to kill but that whole section is confusing and while the story tries to explain why we have to fight these people, it doesn’t really tell it that well because we don’t have enough background to why they don’t like us in the first place and given we can still have a popular in game reputation with them at the time it makes little sense.

To my mind this game didn’t suit a console port, I can understand why they did it, but I can imagine its just 10% better with a mouse to control things. I think a few pre or post mission cut scenes would have really boosted the engagement levels and slightly less Irish music in the background wouldn’t go a miss. All in all, if you’re a fan of the show you’ll probably like this game. If you aren’t you’re probably not. If you can though, get the PC version.