Over the past few years one multiplayer game has dominated the PC and Xbox consoles, and that was Battlefield and the various iterations it comes in. DICE really did strike gold when they took the Codename Eagle format and rebuilt it in a more realistic style, so much so EA bought them out. However with success comes imitations and at the most basic level there is no doubt that Midway has been inspired by that series of games, but to call it a clone would be criminal as Eidos and the developers look to have constructed an incredibly deep game with a strong single and multiplayer component
[img]battlestationsmidway_xb360_1[/img]The game is set in World War II, or more specifically the land and sea battles between the Japanese and Allies in the Pacific; one of the theatres that turned the war the Allies way and had the Japanese retreating. The developers have gone to great lengths to allow you to either replay or change history with the two sides included both battling in combat which actually took place during the conflicts.
When you first start the game you will probably be a tad confused as to how to actually play it, as Battlestations: Midway does something a lot of games have tried to do in the past but failed. That is, build an action game which has strong RTS elements allowing you to take control of any unit on the battlefield. This is no doubt the first game that will succeed with this formula if preview builds are anything to go by.
In both Single Player and Multiplayer you take control of an army, either the US or Japanese, and the units associated with that. The best way to explain this is to talk about how a game begins. For instance, you start off with control of a shipyard which can then launch destroyers or aircraft carriers and they in turn can launch aircraft of various types such as bombers and fighters. Battlestations: Midway gives you an unprecedented amount of control over your units and, the thing is, it actually works. This is because the AI and map screens seem to work well in tandem.
[img]battlestationsmidway_xb360_4[/img]Fundamentally, there are two ways to control units in Battlestations: Midway. The first is to give orders by changing to units individually, the other is to give orders on the map screen which is the easier and more robust of the two methods. The AI is extremely well done and it will be crucial to the success of this game. Basically you tell a ship to do something and then change to a fighter to get into the combat, and the ship in the background will continue to defend itself and carry out the orders.
The unbelievable thing is that this translates to multiplayer as well. This is not a 'drop in and drop out' type of game, as you do take control of an entire enemy army or section of army when playing in multiplayer. So just like in single player, you have to move all units, give orders and play like an RTS when taking on opponents via Live. This is the feature that the developers hope will sell the game, and after some play time with a preview, they have definitely done this section of the game right. The engines for both flying and naval combat seem realistic and it remains a pick up and play game despite having some very serious and realistic overtones to the gameplay.
One thing we have to point out at this stage is the graphics are really not all that great. We are giving Eidos the benefit of the doubt right now but this could end up being one of the worst looking 360 games in 2007. However with such a unique and innovative style of play, it may not be as big a problem as expected. Gameplay over graphics - always.
Battelstations: Midway is starting to gain a bit of hype and may turn out to be a big game for Eidos and its team. It has a unique game mode, interesting setting and strong online play; all the elements needed for a successful game. Time will tell whether the game is too unique and innovative for its own good, but this is a game that action fans should definitely keep an eye out for.