Making a video game can be a very tiring task, sucking many hours away as each day passes. Anyone that produces a playable product deserves some credit, but if that product is total garbage upon release, no amount of hard work can rectify that. Hard works can derive respect, but it cannot excuse an utterly broken project. Thus is the case for the latest first-person shooter to hit Steam, Battle for the Sun.
Once you begin Battle for the Sun’s story mode, you are thrust into the role of a soldier who simply wants to fight for his homeland against invading aliens. Within moments, you get the hint that this game is an absolute mess. The cutscenes are filled with shots that focus on meaningless activities, while the audio seems to be recorded on a microphone found within your local library. The mixing makes it worse as it sounds like the voice actor is ten feet away while reading his/her lines. Unsurprisingly, there is little emotion asserted with each piece of dialogue.
The real gem of the audio, however, is that developers Appsolutely Studios found it necessary to censor every curse word. As with many war titles, there are a lot of F bombs being thrown around. Instead of hearing them, you get starred out words in the subtitles, and a nice loud bleep from the actual dialogue. Despite its pointlessness, this does bring about some (unintentional?) laughs.
Narratively, Battle for the Sun follows a basic path up until its end level. You are, hilariously (above image is the first sight of him), introduced to your General, Griggs, early in the game, providing leadership throughout the game. There are no real twists or turns until the very end of the game, when things start to heat up in a very enjoyable way. Don’t get me wrong, it is not enjoyable due to some sleek writing or successful foreshadowing, it is enjoyable because of the comedy it produces. The painful voice acting coupled with clumsy animation can make for some very memorable sequences throughout the final twenty minutes of Battle for the Sun.
Unfortunately, that comedy does not transfer over to the gunplay found within the game. Once you start trouncing through the weak-minded foes in the game, you realize that the controls hamper any sort of enjoyment that could possibly be derived from popping off shots at aliens. Moving the standard machine gun from left to right feels like dragging a four hundred pound brick through the mud. Due to that, lining up an accurate shot is next to impossible. In an attempt at keeping the player’s sanity together, the hit box on your enemies is much larger than their player model. This makes shooting to the slight left or right of your enemy just as effective as a headshot. There are a few weapons to select from (pistol, shotgun, RPG, etc.), but none of them control well enough to make a difference. Since the combat is so hard to control, this makes the game much more difficult in all the wrong ways.
If you want to avoid that difficulty, there is an alternative path you can take to completing each level, although I doubt it was what the developers had in mind. Instead of clumsily firing off a shot at the three enemy models standing in front of you, run serpentine towards them and avoid every shot. You can then run right by them and hit the next checkpoint. While it may make your left thumb tired from holding down the stick, it is much more enjoyable than partaking in the firefights. Then again, stubbing your toe on a flaming bed post would be more entertaining than having to shoot in circles until one of your bullets is close enough to kill an enemy.
As with many shooters, Battle for the Sun features an upgrade system that will allow the player to obtain more firepower, quicker reloads, etc. You get the points for these upgrades by picking up green alien resources found around each level. The noise made when you pick up each resource is one of the few enjoyable things to be found within Battle for the Sun. It’s a pleasant little ding that could easily be the default text message noise for the next generation of iPhones. As for the actual upgrade system; it produces little noticeable change as you level up.
There is a full five-second sequence in the middle of Battle for the Sun where you see a largely green environment. The view is comprised of trees and some buildings in the far off distance, all while you ride off in a helicopter. This quick shot has a very minimalistic appeal. It also acts as the only time you see something in Battle for the Sun that approaches any level of visual enjoyment. The levels you find yourself exploring (or sprinting through) are filled with bland, repeated textures that look ripped from the Army Men series on the Nintendo 64. There is a sequence that takes place wholly underground, which produces some of the most bewildering pathing issues encountered in a video game. These sections wouldn’t have been acceptable two generations ago, let alone here.