Battlestar Galactica: Deadlock Review

Battlestar Galactica: Deadlock Review
From IGN - December 13, 2017
By Caley Roark

Despite all its acclaim, the reimagined Battlestar Galactica series that ran from 2004 to 2009 has been severely underrepresented when it comes to quality games. Similarly, recent choices for space-based strategy games have been limited too, especially if you arent looking for a 4X experience. But Battlestar Galactica: Deadlock solves all of these issues single-handedly, with tactical-strategy gameplay featuring Cylons, Vipers, and Battlestars. The best surprise, though, is that its all of that and a good game.

Deadlock is a cleverly designed space combat game layered on top of a challenging resource-management simulation. In this regard, Deadlock echos what makes games like XCOM so addictive: the ships you manage from a strategic perspective are the same ones you command in combat, so decisions made in one phase have significant impacts on the other. For instance, spending resources on a fleet officer might enhance a ships firepower in combat, but lose that ship and you will have a harder time tackling future missions. Its a formula thats worked in other games, and works just as well here.

Regarding the combat, it feels fresh. Its neither as rigid as XCOMs grid-based gameplay, nor as frenetic as something like StarCraft. Instead, it uses a simultaneous turn structure where you and your opponent lock in movement and commands at the same time. These orders are then executed collectively, with the results playing out cinematically in front of you. This system is reminiscent of the highly regarded Frozen Synapse, but may have as much in common with tabletop miniature games like Star Wars: Armada and Star Trek: Attack Wing. In fact, anyone familiar with those games will likely appreciate the feel of Deadlocks combat.

Even if you arent, Deadlocks combat interface makes it easy to feel like an armchair admiral. Its as simple as moving an outline of your ship to the exact spot youd like it to be at the end of the turn and taking into account the highlighted area that represents maximum range and translucent firing arcs which show what a ship could possibly hit. Since the ships in Deadlock are large capital ships with low agility and varying firing arcs, planning two or three turns in advance is important.

Understanding your fleets limitations and other class-based differences is crucial for success. The different ship types generate a lot of tactical decisions that keep combat interesting. Lumbering Jupiter-class Battlestars can attack in all directions, but also tend to draw the brunt of the Cylons fire. Meanwhile, the maneuverable Manticores have limited firing arcs and have to be carefully aimed where you expect the enemy to go.

Deadlock also includes fighter combat, a staple of the TV series, and these small-scale ships are represented in a great way. Wings of fighters can be assigned to attack and defend specific targets, and grouped into fighter squadrons. When viewed at a distance, the groups of fighters blend into one large glowing icon which is very easy to see, reminiscent of Homeworld 2 or Sins of a Solar Empire.

An additional twist that puts Deadlock ahead of its tabletop game relatives is its representation of three-dimensional space combat. You can adjust the elevation of your ships, and because ships can collide, its a necessity to manage it if you want to avoid crippling your own fleet. Ships do tend to clump together, paradoxically making a space-based battlefield seem congested.

Beyond the movement decisions, issuing commands keeps things compelling as well. Each ship has a variety of actions it can take, from firing missiles to launching fighters to repairing subsystems. Missiles are hard-hitting but limited in both number and by reload time. Repairs are straightforward enough, but knowing what and when to repair is crucial. If a ship is heavily damaged, is it better to be able to steer or fire? All of these options make each turn feel much bigger and fuller of important decisions than the 15 or so seconds that they represent.


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