Battlestar Galactica Deadlock Review – PC

I’m a huge fan of Battlestar Galactica, both the 80’s series and the 2004 reboot, so when I heard there was a game on the way I was pretty excited, even after I learned it wouldn’t be an action space shooter but rather a turn-based strategy game…my least favorite subgenre of strategy games. Thankfully, the designers have managed to create a fairly streamlined process that maintains a much faster pace than any other TBS game I’ve played before, plus the ability to see my entire game played out in real-time after the mission is over is a huge bonus.

Battlestar Galactica Deadlock sets itself up as a prequel to the established lore of the show, playing out during the First Cylon War, but backstory and narrative quickly become reduced to simple mission briefs setting up the game’s individual missions that focus on squadron battles. With multiple ways to play including a Campaign mode, skirmishes, and online battles, plus plenty of side missions, there is plenty to experience in Deadlock.

The game is an uneasy balance of strategy and sim, requiring you to manage numerous facets of your fleet, spending resources, upgrading ships or building new ones, or exploring new tech. There are lots of systems in place, and you are kind of thrown into it with minimal in-game training. Even hours into the game I always felt I was under-performing simply because I didn’t know everything I needed to know.

Deadlock is a straightforward turn-based game where you cycle through your units telling them where to go and what to do then ending your turn and watching your “program” unfold in short bursts of real-time. Ultimately, at the end of the level you can watch the entire battle play out complete with cinematic camera angles and a bass-thumping percussive score ripped straight from the new series. By the time I was wrapping up this game I felt more like I was an effects guy designing CG battles scene-by-scene for a new series than playing a war game. But such is the curse of any TBS, which I usually find as stimulating as playing chess by mail.

Deadlock is certainly more exciting than waiting by the mailbox for checkmate, with up to seven ships to micromanage while taking into consideration enemy movements and fight tactics.   The 15-20 hour campaign seems like an eternity, mostly due to the daunting learning curve and the complex UI that overlays space and ship graphics with dizzying amounts of stats, data, and menu options. If you find you are enjoying the experience then online co-op and 1v1 battles as well as endless skirmish battles offer up an eternity of content.

Technically, Battlestar Galactica Deadlock has some acceptable graphics. Things look okay from a distance but textures muddy up when you get too close. I’m not a big fan of the chosen font for the menus and UI and the thick lines reminded me of Trek’s LCARS interface. While the voice acting is merely passable it is the score that steals the show with tribal beats that turn every replay into an authentic outtake from the 2004 series.

Admittedly, I’m not the best person to probably be reviewing this game as strategy games; especially turn-based strategy games are my weakest genre. I’m more of an action guy and Battlestar Galactica Deadlock is 95% mental planning and 5% action and even that action is merely the result of that previous planning. I’m not sure the Battlestar Galactica license was even needed or best served with this game. While Deadlock is a competent space battle game it would be, at its core, just as good without the license. The nostalgia seems a bit heavy handed and perhaps exploitive in its recruiting of sci-fi nerds, but then again, those are the people who will likely have the patience to get the most enjoyment from this game. And there is a lot to enjoy if you have the patience and skill to create those moments.

Author: Mark Smith
I've been an avid gamer since I stumbled upon ZORK running in my local Radio Shack in 1980. Ten years later I was working for Sierra Online. Since then I've owned nearly every game system and most of the games to go with them. Not sure if 40+ years of gaming qualifies me to write reviews, but I do it anyway.

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