Battleship, as most people remember, is a pretty simple board game. You call out a location on the enemy’s grid, and if they have a ship in that area you mark the spot and wait for them to try to do the same. This classic back-and-forth has been faithfully brought to the iPhone, and while that’s not what we would consider an impressive feat, it’s still a lot of fun.
Classic mode plays by the basic rules you remember as a child, with one difference. By default, you’ll now be allowed to see which ship you have hit. This helps determine if you’ll need to land five hits to take down the carrier or just three to take down the submarine. Also, if you know the carrier is the only ship the enemy has left, you can narrow your search to areas that only have five consecutive open spaces, speeding up the game. This setting can be overturned in the menu.
If the Classic mode is a little too slow-paced, another mode called Salvo is available. Salvo allows you one shot per ship remaining in your fleet. You’ll start with five ships, allowing you five shots per turn. Every time the enemy sinks a ship, you have one fewer shot to fire, making for a nice little twist to the Classic mode.
The real additions to the gameplay reside in the Superweapons mode. 17 additional weapons are available in total, though you’ll need to limit yourself to three in any given game. Some weapons are obscenely powerful, such as the “White Star”, which hits 9 squares in a single turn.
These weapons need to be charged, keeping players from spamming them over and over. Defensive abilities are also available, including decoy ships and protective shields, although these don’t keep the matches from being much shorter than your typical Classic game of Battleship.
Ultimately, we appreciated the variety of tactics and faster pace of the Superweapons, and spent the majority of our time playing that mode. One glaring problem is that only four weapons are available at the beginning of the game, with the rest locked until you’ve sunk dozens of ships or completed certain challenges.
Where’d I put my life preserver?
While unlocking weapons is annoying, the biggest problem with Battleship is the lack of online multiplayer. Playing against the computer, who ultimately knows the location of all your ships, isn’t nearly as fun as battling a human opponent. While the local wi-fi, Bluetooth and pass-and-play multiplayer work well if you have a friend in the same room, they should be complemented by an online option.
Indie developers have released free games with online multiplayer, so we don’t understand how a company as large as EA can neglect to add even rudimentary online play in simple games like Battleship.
While we’d like to see online play added, Battleship is still a faithful recreation of the classic board game, and the Superweapons mode is an excellent addition. If you’ve been itching for some ship-sinking action on the go, this could be a hit.