Battlestar Galactica has had a few forays into the video game world, with distinctly mixed results. Now, almost eight years after the show ended, we finally have a great one.
The basic premise of Deadlock is this - You’re controlling the first attempts to build a united Colonial fleet during the First Cylon War. While no larger than a basic strike force, it is your job to defend the colonies, keep it funded and fight off opposition from those who want to undermine you from within. Perhaps once you’re done dealing with all the problems your own people are creating, you can get around to fighting the Cylons.
There’s a definite XCOM quality to the game but its real strength stems from how it approaches combat. You give commands to your ships, from what to fire on to when to withdraw and cover basic manoeuvers. You then have ten seconds of those actions play out, before the game freezes again allowing you to take control and issue your commands once more. It’s an easy solution to the usual problems which put many people off of playing RTS experiences, and the turn-based design assists in formulating tactical plans or familiarizing yourself with the variety of ships.
The use of timed mechanics and abrupt pauses benefits Deadlock across multiple platforms. Despite efforts to ease the experience, RTS games on console have always been notably flawed due to the limitations of controllers. Yet, because combat only takes place during brief bursts of action and you have relatively few ships to command, it works perfectly on all machines. Even the control layout is a simple matter of ordering the ships to follow certain orders in turn which, while intuitive, lacks the more finicky elements which can only be accomplished via mouse and keyboard.
While Deadlock lacks the grander scale of Starcraft, Ashes of the Singularity or even Homeworld, it nevertheless captures the perfect grim nature of its setting. While it emphasises micro-management of ships over sweeping formations, it more than makes up for that with its attention to detail. Many ships have weakened areas they need to protect, multiple firing solutions and independent abilities which can change the course of a battle in moments. You need to do more than merely command general actions, you need to dictate when to launch nukes, lay down salvo firing solutions and launch attack squadrons in combat sequences. It’s a level of detail and control which would be almost impossible to manage in real-time without losing control of the fleet.
Deadlock has proven itself to be a major success and a worthy prequel to the revamped series. With many of the same themes carrying over into the story and solid fleet-based combat, it’s a must buy for any fan of the franchise.
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA - DEADLOCK / DEVELOPER: BLACK LAB GAMES / PUBLISHER: SLITHERINE LTD. / PLATFORM: PC, PLAYSTATION 4, XBOX ONE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW