Hands-On Preview: Battle Group

If you’ve been waiting for a really neat rail shooter to hit iOS, you’ll want to keep an eye out for this upcoming collaboration from Bane Games, Squid Tank and Game Audio Australia! Battle Group – which should sail into the App Store this October – lets the player helm a warship charged with clearing international waters of pesky pirates. Now, these aren’t the cute “Arr, me matey!” pirates we’ve been seeing plenty of on iOS lately, but rather the near-future kind who like to shove ballistic missiles into any ship that passes through their illegally claimed territory. And contrary to modern-day pirates, these ones have access to jet bombers and other advanced weaponry — getting some insight into just how this happened is part of the allure that draws the player into its campaign.

Per on-rails tradition, the player’s battle cruiser moves along a set course in vertical and horizontal scrolling levels while the player handles weaponry. The best offense being a good defense, this means the player must not only blow enemy vessels and aircraft to smithereens, but also annihilate incoming projectiles before they land on deck. We haven’t gotten far enough to unlock new flagships yet, but we’re already enthused with the missiles available to the starting cruiser. The player has to be careful not only to get a good lead on targets, but also has to consider the explosive range of missiles when dispatching them; the player sets both release angle and detonation point with touchscreen taps.

What intrigues us most about Battle Group is the sensible way that it wraps plot, achievements, and gameplay results together. The player is informed that his or her progress is being carefully monitored by nations that are contributing to a NATO-style military alliance, and member states will supply support ships to this operation as a reward for good performance. The player may bring one flagship and one support ship into battle as far as we’ve played, the support ship bearing a different type of armament and functioning almost as a special attack that requires cooldown between uses. The extra firepower comes with additional responsibility; it’s rather appropriate that the player unlocks backup vessels through performance, because two ships are more difficult to defend than one!

Screencaps may not inspire much awe given Battle Group‘s realistic weaponry and overhead perspective, but it’s difficult to appreciate the production values going into this one until you’ve played it with a good set of earbuds plugged into your head. Well composed mission briefings are delivered to the sound of charismatic voice acting, and garbled radio transmissions heighten the player’s impression of having sailed straight into a war zone.

We’ll be back with a developer interview and our iFanzine Verdict once Battle Group releases. If the sound of its action-packed naval engagements have caught your fancy, be sure to keep an eye on Bane Games’ website and Facebook page for the latest development news!