Published by: Blendo Games
Developed by: Blendo Games
Flotilla is a no frills, 3D, turn-based space combat game priced at just under £8. At that price you might not be expecting much and in fairness you’re not getting much other than a collection of battles and the ability to engage in skirmish battles. Fortunately, the battles are enjoyable and do require a fair degree of thought. Those expecting elaborate campaigns and plot-twisting storylines are going be disappointed but at the asking price that’s not the problem it would normally be.
There’s not much of a storyline in Flotilla but that’s hardly surprising as the main focus has been kept on the battles. You’ll play as a space captain who has only seven months to live. You’ve decided to embark on one last adventure and on it you’ll have a range of random encounters which are preceded by two or three lines of dialogue before you’ll square off against enemy vessels. You usually get to make a choice before heading into combat however. A group of scientists may choose to offer you cargo or an extra spacecraft to add to your fleet if you help defend them or a rogue reindeer may offer you a way out of fighting if you choose to surrender one unit of cargo. Of course there are times when you won’t have any choices to make. You might encounter a pipe-smoking fish who just wants to blast you into a million pieces and then you have no choice but to battle.
There is an assortment of different spacecraft in Flotilla. There are Destroyers, Beam Frigates and Gunships, Torpedo Gunships, Dreadnoughts, Battleships and Proto Fighters. Your spacecraft can also be upgraded which can help to make the battles a little more interesting. It can be difficult getting to control some of the ships however as it’s not long before you’ll come up against AI enemies who will blast you out of the galaxy. There’s no way to save your progress and once you die you’ll have to begin a new adventure with only two of the most basic spacecraft which can be a little annoying.
The battles are engaging affairs and really do require you to have an effective strategy. You’ll come against a variety of spacecraft that are simply too strong to tackle head on. More often than not you’ll have to out manoeuvre them and fire at them from underneath or behind in order to do any kind of damage. Up to two players can participate co-operatively in missions and you can even choose to enable the Hard-core mode which essentially makes for a longer battle with more aggressive AI enemies.
In a battle you’ll take turns (which last for 30 seconds) moving your spacecraft and choosing which targets they are to attack. You’ll have a choice of making an Attack, Flank or Fire move. The Attack move allows you to do a standard move and attack. The Flank option gives you an increased movement range but deactivates all weapons. Finally, Fire gives you the option of having increased firepower at the cost of a reduced movement range. In any given move you’ll set the planar movement, then the vertical movement, choose the orientation of the spacecraft and finally you’ll set the priority target to fire at. The only cumbersome aspect of the process is moving the camera around but otherwise it’s a straightforward battle system that allows you to concentrate on formulating the most effective strategy.
The brevity of the single-player Adventure mode is a little disappointing but by far the biggest disappointment is the absence of anything other than a hotseat multiplayer mode. Two players can join in on the same computer but there’s no support for LAN, Internet or PBEM (play-by-e-mail) gaming and that’s a real shame, especially as Flotilla seems like it would be the kind of game that would be ideally suited for these modes.
Visually, Flotilla adheres with the simplistic motif with extremely basic polygonal spacecraft and battle environments that couldn’t be much simpler if they tried. However, that isn’t a criticism because the graphics are good enough to get the job done and to allow the game to run on an extremely high percentage of PC specifications. Had this been a £30 game then it certainly would have been a cause for complaint but for the asking price it would be harsh to complain. In fact the presentation of the game as a whole has been kept simplistic with dialogue and tutorial messages being delivered via text. You do get some incomprehensible speech when an attack order is issued (which even a hearing gamer will make no sense of) that isn’t subtitled but it’s of no importance.
If you’re looking for a 3D, turn-based space combat game that’s purely focused on the battles and nothing else, then Flotilla may by the game you’re looking for. There’s a big question against the game’s longevity however and whilst it’s might seem a little pernickety to complain about the lack of multiplayer options when the game is costing less than £8, the brevity of the single-player experience, which admittedly tries to increase its replay value by randomising events, needs something else to make it feel like a more complete package. However, the game is fairly enjoyable and it’s definitely worth giving the demo a try if you like your turn-based space battles.