by Valerie Stevens
June 6, 2006
games for the Playstation 2 are hard to come by. Especially naval games with
simulation elements, ship design features, and control over weapons. When
the press release for KOEI's Warship Gunner 2 came across my desk, I zeroed
in on the box cover. As you can see, a massive bombardment by a battleship
and a fast attack ripping across the waves--looked promising!
Despite the magnificent box scenes this is not a
simulation, it's more of a fast paced naval action/arcade game with really deep
ship design and text-based role-playing elements. As you might expect from a
console game, its target audience appears to be teenagers, guys who won't
think anything is out of place when the crew avatars have Yugio hair. One look at the
spiky-haired skipper and you know this game isn't going for the Dangerous Waters crowd.
Any good player knows to start out with the
tutorials and with WG2, it's a must. The interface is quite complex and
without the text and demo driven guides, you can forget about mastering the
game. Each tutorial explains the controls and functions, then shows a demo,
and gives you a chance to try it before moving on. You are at liberty to
skip the demos at any time but I plodded though all of them, investing about
45 minutes into my Warship Gunner career. Then I opted to skip the R&D and Design
tutorials. I was anxious to taste salt water.
soon as I finished the tutorial I started a New Game. You have four
difficulty levels to choose from, I selected the second level, "Easy". A
nice little cutscene of our little fleet--then all heck breaks loose. We are
attacked by elements of our own defense force and a wicked melee ensues. I would
have never survived without learning the ropes in the tutorial first. WG2's
action is abrupt and unrelenting. You're attacked by swarms of ships and, at
first, defense seems a daunting task.
Gunner 2 demands a swift mastery of the interface to be successful in
battle. The enemies do not leave you much time to check the manual. The
combat screen has an intermediate range radar and HUD overlaid and it can
be quite hard to make out the ships marked as icons on the screen. Tucked in
the lower left corner is a map-scale radar. Hit the X button to pull up a
weapons menu. The controller setup requires you employ ambidextrous use of
your thumbs. Left thumb controls the targeting mark, right thumb provides
the zoom, and you steer with L1 and R1. Autosteer can be enabled but I found
it easy to combine the manual steering with the targeting stick for
consist of destroyers, cruisers, battleships, carriers, subs, and planes. Surface
warships demand evasive maneuvers to avoid being hit and at the same time,
you must control the gun sights to strike back, maneuver properly to launch
torpedoes and depth charges. You can repair damage but doing so disables
your engines and defenses, so you need to execute a tactical retreat. There
are also automated defenses that are triggered when enemy torpedoes are
headed your way. You'll need all the help you can get in the lightning sea
After the fast and furious fighting, I've left 20
ships hull up. and the backstory begins. Our homeland, Wilkia, a nation
occupying an area where Korea and Mongolia are now, is experiencing civil
war. Wilkia has European roots, so when we learn that our brothers mean to
expand the fighting across the seas in global conquest, it's not a total
The missions are intercut with long and often
typically tedious text exchanges between the avatar characters. Having story
elements is a good thing but quality story elements are much better. If
you're not captivated by the dialogue, you can skip the blah-blah and get to
the next mission. I will say I thought highly of the overall strategic
story but some of the interpersonal bickering was dull.
The ship design element really boosts the game's appeal.
Between missions you can turn your combat success into new technologies and
armaments. Something like 1000 different pieces of hardware can be
combined to force-build planes, subs, and hybrid warships that would make
the Bismarck seem like a paper boat. Successful mission and objective
completion is key to upgrading your ships, adding more ships, and bolstering
your crew. There's no denying that the game developers put a lot of thought
into the numerous systems and upgrades. The missions get harder as you go
along so you definitely want to get the best gear to stay in synch. Ok, so
when the lighting bolt generators and laser cannons come along, it does get
a bit weird. At least it's entertaining, ripping through whole fleets of enemy
vessels with unimaginable firepower.
Warship Gunner 2 has a lot of replay value with 100
missions and "60 stages". The missions are usually only ten or fifteen
minutes long but on higher levels you'll have to play them a few times to
achieve mission success. Between missions you can relax and explore the R&D
options. It's a lot of fun, tinkering with the design stuff, then seeing how
well it works in battle.
areas where Warship Gunner 2 comes up short: graphics and physics. Graphics,
as in the environment and ship renders are serviceable at best; and physics,
as in there ain't none. Warships zip around, turning in pivot-fashion, and
bump into each other with no noticeable consequences. The heavy guns fire
almost as rapidly as the machine guns. Combat tactics are simplified into
weaving, aiming, and shooting--a swirling dance of sea-going pandemonium.
Throw in floating power-ups and funds.... you get the idea.
Submarines in the game don't race about to the same
degree but with the exterior view the only option and depth changes boosted,
they don't really feel like subs. The game does model a periscope which
requires bring your sub to periscope depth. But no sonar, TDC, or anything
like it. Very basic, arcade style action.
It's an odd mixture of Manga-style admirals, deliberately-thought out ship
design elements, sci-fi weapons, and rapid-fire, shoot-shoot carnage. It's
not in the same league as Silent Hunter III, more like Steel Tide. If you
can stomach the arcade style physics, and you find the ship-building
entertaining, you may find Warship Gunner 2 a pleasurable way to pass a few
What the game lacks in realism, it supplies endless shoot
'em up action.
If nothing else, this could be an intro into naval games for
|BONUS: +5 Deep design
Developer: Micro Cabin