Battle Stations Blockade – PS5 Review

Battle Stations Blockade is a 3D rail shooter developed by New Jersey-based studio Mission Critical that sees you controlling a pair of gun turrets on a battleship in voxel-style hostile waters.  Set across eleven stages, the game sees you taking out aircraft, paratroopers, boats, gun emplacements and even giant enemy crabs in an unrelenting battle against an army that have stolen some military intelligence from your commanders.

After a brief introduction from your commanding officer, you are given a brief tutorial which shows you the basics of the game.  You move your cursor with the left stick, shoot your two turrets with and select your turret types from a radial dial that you bring up with .  The various weapon types aren’t explained in the tutorial, which is a shame because there are nine varied weapon types and figuring them out in the heat of battle seems a bit thoughtless but you’ll soon get to grips with them.

And that’s it, after that you’re off on the open water sailing ever-onwards through each stage as enemies fly, sail or drop into view.  All you need to do is point and shoot.  Indeed, if it wasn’t for the watery setting this would essentially just be a clone of Operation Wolf or, better, its sequel Operation Thunderbolt as that one also had forward motion.  You can pretty much ignore the fact that you’re traveling at all as really all you’re doing is aiming and firing.  And then it’s just a case of taking out enemies before they damage you too much.  Each kill you get gives you back some health, so you’ll want to keep eliminating threats constantly.

Your basic 50-Cal guns can handle most situations, if not all of them.  They provide solid rates of fire and decent damage and so you’ll find that you’ll soon be clearing out the unfriendly skies and enemy-infested waters pretty easily, especially if you drop into the menu and speed up the cursor a bit.  It’s a simple thing but we’d have liked to see the right stick incorporated into the controls to maybe provide a faster moving cursor for when you need that extra movement speed but generally the controls are fine apart from in one minor aspect.

Your 50-Cal guns won’t kill everything with ease and so you’ll eventually need to dip into that weapons radial.  There you’ll find missile launchers, rail guns, a ‘scatter shot’ shot gun that’ll soon become your favourite weapon and more.   We found that it’s massive area of effect made defeating most enemies even easier than using the 50s but a lock-on ‘Multi-Missile’ was also super effective as was the ‘Nuke Launcher’ which, when you realise it can lock on, basically felt like a cheat mode for the whole game.  Given that these weapons are all unlocked from the start, it’s weird that there are so many overly potent choices.  The only issue was that radial dial selection method as we felt like it let us down at least 25% of the time and we’d end up not actually changing weapons.  That might be us showing poor technique but we’re inclined to think that the interface needs a little tightening up.

With so many easy ways to deal death, Battle Stations Blockade‘s first main issue is that it’s just so easy.  On whatever the default difficulty was, we were able to beat the game with barely any issues.  The only trouble we had was on the game’s one timed section and that’s because, for some reason, our weapons weren’t targeting the city we had to destroy within the time limit.  Failing that then locked us in a restart menu that didn’t respond.  This then led to our second main issue which was evident when we replayed the whole mission to get to that point.  The levels are too long.  Some of them are just seven or eight minutes but others seem to last for double that and more.

While we were able to beat the game in one sitting, it really dragged.  Each level feels the same with many new enemy types not really adding much intrigue, challenge or interest while the levels themselves all blurred into one long cruise through voxel-based colourful-but-bland hills and mountains.  There’s additional weirdness in that the end of level bosses don’t even die right.  When you remove their last hit point, the game abruptly takes you back to the debriefing screen.  There’s no explosive ending or enemy sinking.  Given that the game uses voxels, we were expecting things to properly explode.  It’s all just a little unexciting.  Sure, the visual style is kind of cute and there’s good use of colour but it didn’t excite like we initially thought it might.

If you want more challenge, there are harder difficulty modes and you can even rope in a buddy for some local co-op so that’s good but convincing them to point and shoot through a game that feels this long might be an issue.  That’s not to say there isn’t some fun to be had here though.  Playing with the various weapons and trying to take out submarines, aircraft carriers and such like is enjoyable but it feels like the overall structure of the game just needed some more work.

Battle Stations Blockade
5 Overall
+ Nice visual style
+ Good weapon selection
- Too easy by default
- The levels start to really drag
- Some technical issues
- Action isn't dynamic enough
Battle Stations Blockade intrigues with its cute, colourful and chunky visual style and wide array of weapons to play with but the overall design, mechanics and variety all need a lot of work still. There's fun to be had here but also, unfortunately, some boredom too. [rwp-review id="0"]

About Richie

Rich is the editor of PlayStation Country. He likes his games lemony and low-budget with a lot of charm. This isn't his photo. That'll be Rik Mayall.

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