Batlle L.A. is Horrible

I am disappoint. I recently watched that Battle L.A. movie everybody was getting hyped about (me included). It was not a good movie. Not at all.

It’s pretty much the “Wolverines!” mission from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 where terrorists are invading American suburbia, but repeated for two hours and the terrorists kinda look very goofy.

The main focus of the movie is really the military. It’s a very dumb, uncritical celebration of how totally awesome and sweet U.S. Marines are. How they keep fighting even against all odds and how they are ready to sacrifice themselves for freedom and apple pie.

To give you an idea of how disappointing this movie is, imagine the following scene. We are maybe a 3rd into the story. The aliens are attacking. We haven’t had the opportunity to have a good look at them yet. Suddenly, the hero stumbles across a wounded alien soldier. Together with a veterinary, they begin to see what it’s made of. We think “Alright! Finally some juicy, horrifying insight about the alien nature of the aliens!”. But no – they strip layers and layers of fabric from the alien and find some transparent goo. And that’s pretty much it. The hero then stabs the alien in a couple of places and draws the only piece of information the movie will ever care about the aliens: you have to shoot them in the heart to kill them. Hoorah!

This is not a movie about an alien invasion. The aliens are only here as an accident. They are irrelevant. They are targets. They even look humanoid and use very human weaponry. You could totally replace the aliens with Russians or Koreans or Terrorists and you wouldn’t need to change anything, ANYTHING about the movie. Probably not even the dialogue, because there are almost none. This is a movie about Marines being heroic and blowing up shit to save innocent people.

The very little we learn about the backstory is stupid too. Occasionally, there are excerpts from news reports explaining how the aliens are probably here to steal our water. While it’s true that Earth’s unique quality is the fact that it has liquid water on it’s surface, it’s certainly not the best place to get water in the Solar System. The outer Solar System has entire Moons made up of water ice. Saturn’s rings are made of water ice. It would be much easier to simply go there, grab the ice and melt it. You wouldn’t need to haul the water from the deep gravity well of Earth and you wouldn’t need to kill any indigenous population. Speaking of which, why DO they need to kill the indigenous population anyway? If they want water, what the hell are they doing jumping around the L.A. Suburbs?

But the movie is not the worst thing coming out under the Battle L.A. umbrella, oh no. The worst thing is probably the XBLA video game. Oh boy.

You know you are in for a stinker when a game based on a gritty, realistic movie like this uses cel-shaded stills retraced from movie stills to tell the story. The game-play outclasses the movie in dullness, repetitiveness and lack of inspiration.

Or let me put it this way: i’d rather watch Independence Day and play the Independence Day game than watch Battle L.A. and play the Battle L.A. game. Oh yes, they are THAT bad.

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

One response to “Batlle L.A. is Horrible”

  1. Daniel Renkel

    You sound quite shocked…. just as if you expected anything else. Did you see any of the trailers upfront?

    I’m truly annoyed about all that (good selling!) military topics, mostly brought into media from the US. To me as an (naive) european, it sometimes seems as there is nothing else “exported” from the US for modern media. Many many Games and also quite many action movies seem to not feature anything else anymore.

    And it seems that 90% of consumers (male, of course) are hooked into that topic. All those modern FPS (for consoles and pc) seem to sell like nothing else.



The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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