Battlemass 2 Desura Review

Battlemass 2 is a turn based military combat strategy game played out on a map with hexagonal tiles. Its similar to Civilization without all of the management frills. This is strictly one on one, you against a computer in single player or online against another player. The object is simple, destroy your enemy’s base while defending your own. Every turn consists of three phases. The first phase is combat where you move your units around and attack the other player. The second phase has you harvesting for resources as a currency and the final phase is where you can build more units at the base. On the surface it might sound shallow, but the combat gets pretty deep. Good enough to satisfy intermediate players and accessible enough for new ones.

The hexagonal land tiles are raised and lowered, so your unit won’t be able to travel down or up a tile that is too tall or short.  The mining for resources is what really adds a new level of depth for the game. Each harvester that you build has a turn to click on a surrounding tile. That tile is then reduced in height and you get an extra resource to build more units.. There are special tiles with some sort of crystal on them that give a second resource for that turn. By reducing the height of the land, you can make strategic gaps that become uncrossable by land units. The harvesters can be destroyed and they’ll have to be if you want to choke off your enemy’s funds. Your home base can also act like a harvester. Before you know it, the land will be completely warped and changed around these harvesters.

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Harvesters need to be bought and permanently placed within range of your area. Every harvester that’s active increases your territory. Your territories can overlap with your enemy. Their harvesters can be placed in your area. It just makes things more interesting with both harvesters deforming the land. Tiles underneath of harvesters or around bases cannot be reduced in height or it would probably make the game impossible.

There are only seven unit types (including the harvester), but that feels like all that’s needed. Each type has health, damage, range and movement. Weaker units are of course cheaper to buy. Weaker is a relative term. Three ant tanks  do more damage than a rain maker cannon. Three cost just as much as one, the ants move three tiles and the rain maker drives one. The real difference is the ants have a range of one tile while the rain maker is two to three tiles. For the same price, both can decimate an opposing unit. When moving units you can land them on the crystals to destroy them in order to deny your enemy from harvesting them. Its not a real game changer, but its there.

If the enemy has made an insurmountable trench, there is a single air carrier unit that when sharing a tile with a land unit, it can carry them and then drop them off later. The carriers are weak in health and dame, but they are the quickest unit and they have a two tile range. This all justifies their high price tag. If one of these carriers goes down while air lifting a unit, they’re both gone.

When a unit is built, you place it directly around your base, so you can only build six combat units in a turn. This is good and bad. You can have so many resources on larger maps that you won’t know what to do with them all. So will your enemy. The intelligence of the computer is pretty good. Its no push over, but there are no difficulty settings. Every game is still completely different, mostly because of randomly generated maps. You can fiddle with some generator settings before the map is made.

Graphics wise, Battlemass 2 is designed to look like you’re playing on a game board with figurines. That’s part of its charm. Even while they’re supposed to be toys, they still move, fire guns and explode into fragments.  You can zoom in and out of the game map to get close or far to the action. The music is very fitting and some tunes are relaxing while others get the blood pumping. Its relaxing to sit and play, before you start overwhelming the opposition and overtake them. I get a sense of joy finally beating an opponent, even if on the small maps it still takes about an hour. The only problem is there is no save. If you quit you lose, which makes sense for a multiplayer game. The single player could use a save function, but I understand its not catering to the solo experience. I just can’t find a match online.

Its a fun game to play, I just wish there was more to it. Even if every game is different, its still the same time after time. No scenarios, no other objectives, no new units. Everything is unlocked from the start. The only progression is how many harvesters you have compared to your rival. There really needs to be scenarios, different units and objectives, but I understand this is like a game of chess with different mechanics.

Another hiccup that I have is in the combat phase of your turn. Each unit can attack and move. You can either click on units or use the left and right buttons to go to the next or previous unit. The problem I have is several times I end up looking at the same piece, because it hasn’t moved and I don’t want them to or it has moved and its waiting to fire with nothing to shoot at. I’d prefer a do nothing or finish unit’s turn. There’s no easy way to look at the map to see everyone’s health. Instead I can click on each piece to take a look. The final issue that I have is the camera smoothing. When the camera pans anywhere, it will slowly come to a stop. Even if it looks like its done, no its still moving.

These issues are easy to overlook with a game so fun. The true test is seeing if the servers get filled and there are enough people to play against. Perhaps even have ranked matches. Its fun to play a game or two, but without a campaign, I don’t think that I’ll be sticking around to play it.

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