Price: £6.49 (approx.)
Format: Xbox 360 via XBLA, PS3 via PSN
Developer: Saber Interactive
Battle: Los Angeles is a first person shooter that casts you as a lowly army grunt who must somehow save the world from alien invasion. When I say save the world, it’s actually Los Angeles you must save, which is obviously where all the important people are, like street mimes, crystal meth abusers and, er, Jack Bauer. Couldn’t they have given him a call instead?
Videogames often suffer from such clichéd scenarios, but for titles like this, based on films, there is no such excuse – especially as you can effectively add the film’s writing budget to that of the game. As far as I can tell from playing this title, the film is a politically neutered, hi-octane version of 2009′s District 9.
It doesn’t help that the Battle: Los Angeles game has an amusingly cack-handed method of presenting the plot – cartoon cut-scenes with cringe-worthy pre-Steamboat Willie animation, and characters sporting huge speech bubbles that appear to have been created in ComicLife by a thirteen-year-old work experience kid with braces and a serious problem with hand-eye co-ordination.
The actual in-game look powered by the Sabre Engine isn’t bad, and I actually grew quite fond of the visuals after a while. During the game everything is nicely rendered, if a bit washed out, and some nice lighting effects and interesting background explosions liven up the usual crouching, strafing and shooting action. The sound and music is adequate, some good touches like the echoing voices in certain buildings as your colleagues shout at you, but nothing spectacular.
Firing weapons feels nicely robust with the pad thudding in your hand, and control-wise the layout is familiar from a ton of other games, as are the guns; and my particular propensity for firing rocket launchers against bits of scenery and killing myself miraculously seems to be present in this game too.
You fight quite short sections at a time, dodging falling debris and doggedly following Staff Sergeant Nantz’s increasingly annoying barking. I tried to lose him amidst the rubble but sadly, when I returned to the fray, he was still waiting there to chide me for holding him up.
Frequent checkpoints mean it isn’t too difficult to get through the game, even on higher difficulty sections, as long as you take your time and use cover (something your superior never seems to tire of telling you). I could have done with more variety in the speech, as replaying a campaign merely reveals the same ‘Taken shots!’ and ‘We need to find cover!’ shouts occurring time after time.
There definitely could have been more variation of enemies to fight too, and the campaigns isn’t nearly long enough – not much more than an afternoon of play whether you’re a dedicated FPS lover or not.
On the plus side, it does play decently, looks OK and by my reckoning 800 MS points is less than a tenner in real money, so if you’ve exhausted all the other games in the genre, or just want an OK shooter for little outlay, then Battle: Los Angeles is just about worth a visit.