Leviathan Warships: Take A Good Hard Look at this MotherF@!*ing Boat!
War drives innovation. For all the hardship, blood, and horrors of war, the silver lining for humanity has been the innovation and the progress it has, for better or worse, provided technologically. So what happens when you take thousands of gamers across four platforms, give them tools to innovate and then set them loose on each other in turn based naval warfare? Leviathan: Warships is what happens.
Strategy games are a dime a dozen on the Android platform. Everything from real time strategy games to reverse tower defense games to RPGs have been done seemingly hundreds of times on the mobile platform. That is why it is a pleasure to find a strategy game on Android that is as refreshingly unique, deep and balanced as Leviathan: Warships is.
It has been a while since I have been as obsessed with a game as I became with Leviathan: Warships over the past few weeks. While it does include a short single player campaign, the real fun in Leviathan comes from jumping online and battling friends or strangers. The amount of shit talking that has been going on between me and my friends these past few days has hit a level I haven’t seen since the long nights of Starcraft and Battle.net.
Creating a completely Interactive and then jumping online with it and either winning or losing would cause me either great shame or pride that few games can match. Its not just that I won or lost, its my creation, the thing I spent hours perfecting, beating or getting beat by something someone else spent hours perfecting themselves. When someone out flanked me and destroyed my flagship before I even got a chance to implement my strategy, I felt as dumb as Alonso Perez Guzman in 1588 (look it up kids!). When things went according to plan, on the other hand, I felt like Chester Nimitz after the battle of Midway. custom fleet using the very robust tools provided by developer Paradox
The ships in Leviathan are slow, it takes forever to get anywhere, even for the faster ships, but it is this slowness that causes every decision to hold great weight. Mistakes can not easily be rectified, and my opponents were on me unmercifully when I tripped up. That isn’t to say that the battles aren’t fast and frantic, when playing with one minute or lower turns I had to be observant, quick and detailed if I wanted even a chance at succeeding and I often found myself desperately trying to tap orders right as the timer was running out.
I still cannot decide what my favorite part of Leviathan is, I spent hours pouring over my fleets, trying to figure out how to get that one last piece under the point limit, and I’m beginning to wonder if I enjoy it as much as actually playing the game proper. The fleet editor was a calm, welcome reprieve from the stressful and intense battles that became the source of inspiration for my fleets; it was a circular process in that way. Go online, get beat, make adjustments, go online again, maybe win, eventually lose, go back to the drawing board. Its was this creation aspect, the ability to make my troops (or in this case, ships and boats) uniquely my own, that makes Leviathan stand head and shoulders above other strategy games.
While more ships and weapons would have been appreciated, the fleet creation tools are still unlike anything done before and most importantly, are incredibly balanced. When I lost, I lost because I didn’t consider something or I didn’t expect something my opponent did, but rarely, if ever, did I feel cheated out of a win. This is the true test of any multiplayer game, can a player lose and have fun losing? In Leviathan, I certainly did. Like wiping out in surfing, losing is just a necessary part of Leviathan, not just because players are better, but because fleets and strategies need to be tested out, adjusted and perfected.
I could do that pretty much everywhere, with the game, and my in-game account, transcending four platforms (PC, Mac, iOS, and Android) I could literally make a move on my computer at home, then jump into that same game on my Android Tablet on the bus on my way to work, and then adjust my fleet when I got home (because I certainly wouldn’t play it at work when the boss wasn’t around, that would be wrong).
Which brings me to my few gripes about the game, if they can even be called that. As mentioned, the single player campaign is lacking, but that isn’t what the game is really for. A few more ships and maps would be nice, but other than that, this is as close to perfection as you can expect out of a strategy game for five (or ten) dollars. Early consumer reviews had claimed that the UI on tablets was lacking but I personally had no issue with using touch controls, and found them perfectly comfortable. While using a mouse with a scroll wheel for zooming and having a larger screen was quicker, the turn based nature of the game meant I had no problem competing with Mac and PC users. My transition of playing the game first on my laptop through Steam and then later on my Nexus 7 was as seamless as you could expect, and I didn’t feel outmatched in anyway because of it. Leviathan is a testament to cross platform play done right.
Leviathan: Warships first made headlines with arguably the funniest trailer in gaming history. A great trailer brought attention and hype, but no guarantee that the game would be well received, if Paradox swung and missed, they would have had seagull shit all over their faces. Leviathan isn’t perfect, mostly because they don’t cram sixty dollars worth of content into a five (or ten) dollar package, but I can’t really fault them for that. What is here is amazing and is done nearly to perfection, that I would pay sixty dollars for the same game with more ships, weapons, maps and a full single player campaign is besides the point. What is here is more than worth the asking price, besides, playing human opponents online and creating your own fleets provides unlimited variations of the same scenarios and there is certainly the structure in place for Paradox to add more to the game later. Paradox took a chance by developing a slower turn based strategy game about boats simultaneously for four platforms, but they knocked it out of the water.