Star Battalion Hands-On Preview – EMBARGOED INDEFINITELY

Star Battalion Hands-On Preview

We know Gameloft isn’t known for its highly original settings, but the plot of Star Battalion made us laugh out loud. You play as the Resistance, a rag-tag team of rebels fighting against an evil galactic Empire to bring back the old Republic.

OK, so it’s inspired by Star Wars– but what isn’t? The important thing is that Star Battalion plays a bit like X-Wing vs TIE Fighter, a PC space shooter that is dear to many gamers. Since many levels are set on a variety of different planets, we also got a Star Wars: Starfighter vibe from Star Battalion, and it’s already miles beyond the official Star Wars space shooter on iPhone, Trench Run.

You control your ship (one of eight playable) with the accelerometer, with added gyroscope control for newer devices. You can fire off missile, lasers, and control your shield, plus set your cruising speed to one of three settings. And in a nice touch, you can switch to a cockpit view for a more authentic feeling, though it is more difficult to play.

In the first level we played, on a Hoth-like snow planet, we were tasked with fighting both simple enemy ships and destroying ground units. We also had to fly through a tunnel, suggesting some potentially cool interior environments later in the game. In a later level set in a Coruscant-like, densely populated city planet, the enemies were much tougher, maneuvering behind us and occupying the attention of our AI squad.

When Star Battalion is released, you can head online through Game Center via Wi-Fi and play co-op through the entire game with a friend, which is a very exciting possibility. However, there is no option for deathmatch. We didn’t get to try this feature yet, but Gameloft assured us they’re taking online play very seriously in their upcoming games.

The sci-fi story is the least interesting thing about Star Battalion, and that’s fine with us. So far it seems to have great action, beautiful graphics (Retina-optimized, of course), and the potential for impressive online co-op. We can’t wait to play through the entire thing when Star Battalion comes out in October.