Final Armada PlayStation 2
Published by: Virgin PLAY
Developed by: I-Imagine Interactive
Release Date: 17th August 2007
When a deep-space probe belonging to the Ecco Corporation passed by the planet known as Taro 459 it learnt that the planet contained a new resource that might be of value. The Ecco Corporation took the decision to colonize the planet and extract the resource. The planet didn't appear to be inhabited so essentially there appeared to be nothing to stop them. The crystals they extracted from an unknown compound turned out to be a superb resource and the Ecco Corporation had high hopes for the plant. However, the whole thing was soon to go pear-shaped. Communications from the colonists on Taro 459 stopped and a Battlecruiser was sent to the planet to investigate. The Battlecruiser was destroyed and just before its destruction it sent a communication that it was being attacked by over 200 ships. Without hesitation, the Ecco Corporation assembled the bulk of its military fleet to the planet and a huge battle with an alien race known as the Qorax took place. The Ecco Corporation was victorious but the price of victory had been great and there were only a few surviving ships. The decision was taken to land on the planet and pursue the remaining Qorax forces.
Final Armada is a vehicular combat game that charges you with controlling the Ecco Corporation's advanced Planetary Scout Combat Vehicle called the Aggressor. The battles you face won't be a solo effort as you'll have a wingman at your disposal and you can issue orders to him via the directional buttons. The Aggressor has two modes, Terran mode and Hover mode. In Terran mode the Aggressor drives around on all-weather wheels and in Hover mode the wheels fold out of the way and the Aggressor hovers. Both modes have their uses. In Terran mode the Aggressor moves more quickly and can recharge its shields. It also fires a machine gun as its primary weapon which is good for breaking through the enemies armour. In Hover mode the Aggressor has a laser gun as its primary weapon and this is excellent against the enemy's shields. During combat you'll want to switch to Hover mode because it allows you to strafe and a faster turning rate. In addition to having primary weapons the Aggressor has secondary weapons and it's possible to cycle through them during a mission. Your performance in a mission will earn you Nanotechs (the game's currency), which can also be collected as a power-up during the course of a mission, and this allows you to purchase weapon, armour and special wingman commands in between missions. You'll also be able to compete in Simulator Battles between missions to earn more Nanotechs.
With Final Armada being a mission based game it's crucial that the missions are both engaging and enjoyable. Sadly the game falls short on both accounts. The problem is that the missions just aren't interesting enough. You'll begin with a fairly dull tutorial and then go onto the early missions where you'll have to activate beacons and rescue colonists and even at this early stage you'll find yourself losing interest with the game. The problem is that it's just so monotonous. The missions begin with a quick discussion in the conference room, a small cutscene of Andersen walking towards the Aggressor in the hangar and then another cutscene of the Aggressor being dropped onto the planet's surface. From this point it's all rather clinical and forgettable as you simply travel to the required location, do what you have to do and in some cases return back to the ship. You do get the odd bit of variation such as when you're manning a turret but this does nothing to improve the experience. There are no memorable moments here. What makes it worse is that the storyline does absolutely nothing to spice up the missions. This is a real shame as there are some good ideas here that will go unnoticed by many. For instance, one of the problems I've found with the vehicular combat is that it can be tricky to fight enemy vehicles at close quarters but having the ability to switch to the Hover mode allows you to control the Aggressor easily in even the tightest of spaces.
Final Armada is a little disappointing in regards to its graphical quality. If anything the game looks like a PlayStation 2 game that's arrived in the console's early life rather than its latter days. The draw distance isn't great and the amount of graphical pop-up is disappointing to say the least. The vehicle models don't look too bad to be fair but even so there isn't anything here that's graphically impressive in any way. Load times are quite short and the frame rate is mostly OK but it does dip slightly at times.
Deaf gamers shouldn't have any problems with Final Armada. There is no speech in the game and all dialogue is text only. The cutscenes are shown in a letterbox format with the text being displayed in the bottom black border. Communications during missions are also subtitled. The subtitles, for both the cutscene dialogue and mid-mission communications, have character portraits placed alongside them so it's always possible to know who is saying what. Mission objectives are shown in text and can be recalled at any time during a mission by pressing the select button. The game provides you with radar, displayed on the bottom right of the screen, to allow you to see which direction you need to be going in order to complete your objectives. The radar also displays icons to alert you to the position of friendly units, targets to protect, targets to destroy and enemies amongst other things.
It's no surprise that Final Armada will cost just £19.99 when it's released. In many ways the game smacks of a low budget title with the graphics failing to impress and the game's storyline being nothing short of forgettable. Both of these shortcomings could have easily been overlooked if the missions in the game had mostly been enjoyable. Sadly there's nothing memorable here and with the game being a single-player only title there isn't even the possibility of an online or offline multiplayer mode to add extra value to the overall package. The game is deaf gamer friendly, which is nice to see of course, and the ability to switch the Aggressor from a jeep to a hovercraft type vehicle is a novel inclusion that works surprisingly well but on the whole it's difficult to see anyone being satisfied with Final Armada.
Whilst the idea of having a vehicle that can be switched from one type to another is a good one and works well, it's a shame that it will go unnoticed due to it being included in such a poor game as Final Armada.