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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Shooter

 

Publisher

Atari / Infogrames

 

Developer

Lost Toys

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q1 2003

 

 

- Interesting gameplay twist to the standard shooter fare

- Very immersive; feels like there’s really a war going on around you

- Lots of explosions; they look and sound excellent

 

 

- Enemies get a little repetitive

- Many gamers will have to adapt away from “kill first” strategy in order to score well

- Sometimes feels like you’re not playing a major role in the conflict, despite your objectives

 

 

(Review) Star Wars: Starfighter (PS2)

(Review) Star Wars: Clone Wars (PS2)

 

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Battle Engine Aquila

Score: 7.0 / 10

 

There have been several games that have tried to bring a totally immersive experience home, especially LucasArts’ Star Wars: Starfighter series.  These games actually put the player in the middle of some huge battles, with seemingly hundreds of other ships doing battle and getting blown away around the player. Between the multitude of ships, the sounds of lasers and gunfire being intermittently interrupted with pilot chatter, and the adrenaline rush of avoiding getting shot down, it’s hard not to feel like you’re in the game.

 

battle engine aquila ps2 review          battle engine aquila ps2 review

 

Battle Engine Aquila attempts to bring the same level of immersion home, while in a somewhat different setting. Aquila takes place on a world dominated by water, and there is a conflict going on between the Forseti and the Muspell. Brought into the conflict involuntarily due to your seemingly reckless abandon and skills with a flight stick, you must pilot the Aquila, a prototype battle mech that can fight on the ground or in the air. Your skills in the Aquila will serve to support the Forseti army in its exploits. While players are engaged in missions, there’s a lot going on around them. Ground soldiers and aircraft are constantly doing battle, and players are just a part of the grand battle that’s going on around them. Unlike the Starfighter games, however, you don’t always feel like you’re having a big impact on the war or the battles that are going on.

 

The Aquila is quite a machine. Aside from its abilities to fly or cover ground like a mech, it carries various weapons of destruction and can deal out plenty of damage to anyone—or anything—that stands in its way. There’s one immediately fatal flaw, however: the Aquila is extremely vulnerable to water. In fact, just touching the water means instant death… and in a world dominated by water, that can be a common occurrence. The controls are similar to what you’d find in a first-person shooter (FPS). The left analog stick controls movement and the right stick controls vision. The directional pad is used for zooming in on targets, and the trigger buttons fire rounds of ammunition. The square button transforms between aircraft and ground modes, but be careful—the aircraft mode can only be maintained for a short time before a landing must occur to gradually recover energy.

 

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When it comes down to playing Aquila, players will quickly learn that there’s more strategy involved than simply blowing everything away that you see. Going in full-throttle without knowing your targets and supporting your troops will earn mission failures more often than not. You have to pick your targets carefully and keep the fate of your army in mind. What’s more, Aquila grades players on more than just running willy-nilly throughout the game’s 23 normal missions. In order to unlock many of Aquila’s hidden secrets, it’s 

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important to focus on the mission objectives and accomplish them as efficiently as possible. Of course, with as much enemy interference as Aquila offers, that’s easier said than done. There are co-op modes to play, too, if you have other war-minded friends to play with.

 

Visually, Aquila is decent. The backgrounds look quite good, with plenty of buildings and other objects about, complete with fair amounts of detail. The enemies look good too, although after a few missions, it’s fair to say that you’ll have seen most of what the Muspell army has to throw at you. There’s a fair amount of light sourcing and particle effect usage throughout the game. The Aquila’s big targeting reticle and associated HUD information is generally transparent and (fortunately) do not obscure the field of vision. The frame rate isn’t stellar and gets hit with bouts of slowdown on rare occasions, but it gets the job done in this instance. Rest assured that there are plenty of explosions here, and they look quite good.

 

battle engine aquila ps2 review          battle engine aquila ps2 review

 

If Aquila lacks in the graphics department, the sounds and music more than make up for the aesthetic difference. The sound effects are stunning, with loud salvos of weaponry and plenty of deep, bass-laden explosions. There are plenty of voiceovers to carry players through this game, right from the start. The voice acting quality is credible if nothing else, as there are distinct characters and emotions being conveyed. The music is also solid, if not a little grandiose at times.

 

Overall, Battle Engine Aquila benefits most from its immersive qualities as players will feel like they’re really involved in the game’s action. Unfortunately, while the immersion factor is high, it’s hard to feel like you’re playing much more than a support role in the overall war at times, unlike the role played in the Starfighter games. While there’s certainly more than enough in the way of hidden goodies to keep players interested, one can only wonder how much better of an experience that Aquila might have been if the player was cast in a more centralized role. On the plus side, there aren’t too many shooters for the PlayStation 2, so fans of the genre can certainly do worse than Aquila. If a sequel is in the works at some point, Lost Toys could certainly build on this experience and deliver a top-notch shooter; but for now, if you’re willing to overlook a few flaws, Battle Engine Aquila is certainly worth a look in a relatively smaller-populated genre.

 

- Peter J. Skerritt, Jr.

 

(March 16, 2003)

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