“Hexagons, war machines, and Norway…”
I’ve always had a bizarre fascination with those feisty Norwegians. For instance, did you know that the average annual precipitation of Norway is a whopping 29 inches? Or that the often neglected Norwegian Elkhound is an artful hunter of the often misunderstood Norwegian mountain bear? I know what you’re thinking- ‘Hey mister-reviewer guy, tell us something we don’t know!’ Okay. Were you aware that the Norwegian national anthem, better known as, “Ja, Vi Elker Dette Landete,” bears a striking resemblance to the Yuletide classic, “Deck the Halls?” And if you haven’t guessed, those delectably spunky Norwegians (who live under a parliamentary monarchy) have jumped headfirst into the great swimming pool of PC gaming with this unremarkable (but quite Norwegian) war simulation.
Battle Isle 2220 is pretty
much your standard hexagon-based strategy thang. The plot revolves around the
fictitious struggle between two fictitious factions of a remote world (fictitious).
The Drulls represent the “bad” guys, the empire which has GREATLY mistreated
the underrepresented Kai people. You are thrust into the role of Caro, a rebel
leader who has crash landed on an ‘uncharted desert isle’ (go ahead, hum the
tune). You discover an ancient race of Kai rulers who rather ungraciously demand
that you carry out their orders to emancipate the bedraggled Kai. Seizing the
opportunity, you are commissioned to commandeer legendary war machines and violently
eradicate any and all resistance. To put it simply, you make them all go BOOM!
The gameplay involves the point and click system. By clicking on a unit you can obtain information regarding ammunition, movement capability, and ranking. Movement and attacking are the bread and butter of the action, this being the hallmark of strategy gaming. Thankfully, the creators of Battle Isle have developed a fairly competent artificial intelligence system; that is, the computer plays like a veteran opponent. This increases the difficulty (I’ve yet to get past the eighth level – there are twenty) and makes for a well-planned game with a high replay value.
The graphics in the actual
game are surprisingly simple. The combat sequences look good at first glance,
but become increasingly repetitive, repeating in a repetitious and often repeated
manner. The opening video is LONG. In fact, video sequences abound and while
this may seem like a plus, the acting is straight out of a Susan Powter infomercial
By far the most rewarding and electrifying aspect of this game is the dubbing. That’s right, the dubbing. The game designers employed a crack squad of Norwegian actors and actresses, after which they dubbed in English-speaking voice-overs. This gives the game a nice Kung-Fu effect (though the script is slightly more elaborate and Norwegian). One wonders if anything was lost in the translation, like DRAMA.
The sound is exactly what you’d figure – tense sonorities elaborated in an alternation between minor and major modes, utilizing some aspects of Schoenberg’s twelve tone system to create a haunting and thoroughly chromatic mood. In other words, snappy little tunes thrown together on a Casio. The main theme is performed by the all-Norwegian metal group, Still Patient (a mix between Judas Priest and ABBA).
Let me be honest. There’s nothing particularly wrong with this game. However, there’s nothing particularly right with the game either. Battle Isle 2220 is as standard a strategy game as I have ever seen, with bonus points for difficulty and minus points for blandness. To get the full affect, I advise dusting off those old Norway travel books and learning a little about the country. While this won’t achieve anything concerning your success with the game, it’s better than wasting your time surfing the net (he says with a sly grin and a pint of frothy Norwegian lager).