Review by LeQuack147

"So many guns... so many..."

Fans of destruction rejoice, Warship Gunner 2 is here to satisfy your thirst for mayhem. And customization.

Story

Simple but functional. You play as an Officer in the Wilkian Navy (Wilkia is a fictional country near Japan). Everything's going fine until the ships you are practicing with turn on you, forcing you to fight (or flee from) several well armed ships on the first mission. It turns out the Admiral has decided to take charge of the country and then the entire world which means destroying everything that might stop him. He's also employing "super-weapons," ships of mammoth proportions which all sport ridiculously powerful weaponry. As you may have guessed, destroying these war machines will come down to you. The story is told through cutscenes and dialog during missions. The storyline branches into 3 paths, which add to the main story at certain points with more cutscenes and missions. The path you take depends on the Commanding Officer you end up with, and the added missions relate to their backstory, their ways of assisting the war effort, and similar themes.

Graphics

Unimpressive, especially at the beginning. Fans of the series were celebrating that this game features actual waves instead of a flat ocean surface, so that should explain how bland it looks. The warships are mostly gray and equally boring to look at. Weather effects are only seen on a square patch around your ship's position "Why isn't it raining over there?" The superweapons look somewhat more interesting, but that's the high point when it's quiet.

Then, you enter a battle. Suddenly there are shells flying everywhere, there's 20 some-odd aircraft circling your ship, launching their own ordnance, and you can barely see anything you are trying to shoot at through the missile trails, but in a good way. The lack of interesting graphics isn't as big a problem considering how much action is on the screen at once. And as boring as the ships look, they are very well detailed. The explosions and projectiles aren't anything new or special, but you'll never get killed by ordnance because you didn't see it. The only problem is between the ships, the planes, the explosions, and your HUD, the screen can get crowded. This only happens in the biggest of the battles though.

Sound

Chaotic. There's all sorts of weapon fire going on during missions, all of which has fitting sound effects. When 80 cm guns are going off, you will know. Meanwhile, the 10 cm's you started the game with sound quiet by comparison. The only voice acting you hear in this game is from messages during missions: "Enemy ship sunk!" "Fire in ammo depot!" "Full speed ahead!" These can be annoying after a while, but they serve their purpose of informing you during battle. The music works well with the hectic battles the game throws at you. The music helps to reinforce the scale and ferocity of the battles you engage in.

Gameplay

If you love customization, this game will make you weep tears of joy. It's one thing to go around blowing stuff up in a battleship, but what about one you designed yourself? Between R & D and Design, you have full control over what is equipped onto your ships. R & D allows you to research new guns/parts/planes or better versions of your current ones. You can either go run some missions while the research completes, or speed things up with a bit of extra cash. In Design, you set up your warship of choice: ship type, armor plating, systems, engines... all that good stuff. You can even place the guns and launchers exactly where you want them on the deck. The only major restrictions are how much weight your ship can carry, and how much deck space it has. Once you've decided on a design, you can even take it on a test run before attempting an actual mission with it. The interface can be intimidating at first, but learning it allows you to design complete ships down to the smallest details. Thankfully, you can create a good ship in the early game just by stacking as many deck cannons on board as possible, so you don't have to familiarize yourself with every possible option from the get-go.

Then there are the missions. 9 times out of ten, your job is to kill everything (ships, planes, shore defenses), any way you can. Sure, the story will give you some reason for doing so, but all that matters is sinking/blowing up anything that crosses your path. You use the shoulder buttons to steer your ship, while using the face buttons for cycling through weapons and firing. You can set up to half of your weapon slots to fire automatically, so you don't have to worry about intercepting missiles and aircraft. The controls are responsive enough to sail through the middle of an enemy fleet without crashing, pelting them with shells and missiles the entire time. Evasive maneuvers are quite possible, with all except the largest and slowest of ships.

The missions have an arcade feel, as destroyed ships often drop ammo and health (as well as parts and funds for research). At the end of each mission, you get a rank, S (the highest) is reserved for completing all objectives and destroying all enemies (or almost all of them, they give you a little leeway). You also get points for a successful mission, and lose points for failure.

There are the standard weapons: deck cannons, rockets, machine gun platforms, but this game also has more exotic weapons, unlocked after beating the game the first time. There's laser weaponry, railguns, flamethrowers and wave guns (the WG version of the BFG).

But then, this is where the problems start to come up. The balance amongst these weapons is off. Lasers are heavy, bulky, and by the time you get them, most of your enemies have EM shielding. You can launch, at best, 30 planes at time, and even if you've sent the best ones in your arsenal, they take all day to destroy even a small fleet. Meanwhile, enemy laser-equipped ships outnumber you 10-1, so even your best shielding won't protect you for long, and enemy planes will spawn indefinitely as long as they have 1 carrier or airfield. And once you have the ability to fire your 80 cm cannons at a rate rivaling machine guns, you won't need anything else. On the plus side, the game puts you through hell in naval battle form before you can obtain this game breaker. Still, with all the different weapons, it seems a shame that some of them are too impractical to ever be used.

The main storyline is difficult the first time around, equally so the second, as it balances out your new weapons and systems with more numerous and powerful enemy ships. The chance to use my enormous battleship on the first mission was fun. Some will be put off that their New Game Plus experience is tempered by encountering more powerful ships, while others will appreciate the added challenge.

Then there are the superweapons, mentioned only briefly before. These are the boss battles. They have more health, more guns, more armor, and occasionally more speed than you could ever dream of. There's plenty of variety, as with everything else in this game: A high-speed cruiser, a bomber that packs battleship cannons as its main guns, a howitzer on rails... they've got everything. At least their size makes them an easier target so you won't waste ammo, as you'll be using unbelievable amounts of it during these missions. Some have weaknesses that can be exploited to destroy them more quickly/easily, but they are still challenging.

Occasionally they'll throw a defense or escort mission your way, which can be frustrating if your ship isn't properly equipped. I lost several such missions just because my ship wasn't fast enough to reach/keep up with my allies. There are some more unique missions, such as trying to locate a stranded destroyer, and trying to sail through enemy territory when you're outgunned. Yet, there aren't many of these, and as much as I enjoy the "Kill It ALL" missions, I wish they had as much variety as the weapons.

Replay Value

By the truckload. So, I've already mentioned it's not over just because the storyline is done, but I haven't made it clear just how true that it. Finishing the first playthrough also unlocks new game modes: Inferno (Like Time Attack for destroying enemy ships), Boss Rush, Special (Difficult missions with great rewards) and Survival (play through an entire storyline branch with 1 ship and no repairs/restocking between missions). There's also the matter of medals. These are awarded for achieving certain goals, like getting an A rank on 50 missions, or obtaining points. The game actually has rewards for feats such as destroying 999 of each ship type, or completing 999 missions. Completionists may go crazy trying to get all of these medals, but other gamers will likely stop before then. Even so, this game will remind some of Civilization with its way of making you play "just a little longer." The ship designing alone will keep players occupied as they try to find their ideal loadout. Then, just as they think they've got everything perfect, they'll unlock a new weapon, or run into a new enemy, and tweak their designs some more. Did I mention there are 1500 total parts you can use?

That brings me to one last gripe about this game, it's a little too grind-oriented. Some prizes, like the 999 mission medal, are acceptable, since you might reach that many trying to unlock the countless other medals. But then there are the battlecarrier kills. The battlecarrier is a unique (though not really powerful) ship that rarely shows up during the game, which also has a reward for destroying 999 of it. Problem is, the 2 times it shows up, there are only 4 of them. Meaning you'd have to complete one of those two missions 250 times. And managing this feat is vital for unlocking the parts at the very top (technically bottom) of the research tree. Granted, you can just keep fighting with your current load out and never worry about those last few parts, but some people just have to unlock everything. After over 150 hours of gameplay, I still haven't gotten everything, but I was concentrating less on grinding and more on creating impressive ships that could destroy everything on screen.

Final Recommendation

If you like customization, get it. If you like naval battles, get it. If you're a completionist looking for a challenge, get it. Anyone else may want to consider renting first.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 05/07/10

Game Release: Warship Gunner 2 (US, 03/21/06)


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