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Score: 85%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: Gamer's Gate
Developer: BLENDO Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 -2
Genre: Turn-Based Strategy

Graphics & Sound:

It still warms my heart to see that massive AAA game development is not the end all, be all, of game creation. Small studios no doubt feel the pinch of being, well ...small. But, this does not stop them from creating beautiful, simple, clean, fun games for players to enjoy. Flotilla should be on the lips of everyone who speaks of great independent games for 2010. I have always believed there is a simple formula to the success of independent games. Take a mechanic that works, have a clean interface and graphics, and then make it fun to play. No problem, easy peasy. Score one for Flotilla.

I don't really know if it is necessary, but I really like it when independent games have that "Garage" feeling to them. This can be from how it is marketed to the music they use. Here, it was the use of hand drawn graphics on top of the simple 3D polygon graphics. The first thing that popped into my mind when I saw the ships was a well done version of the old Nintendo game Star Fox. None of the ships have a pretty mesh or are painted to look realistic. You don't need all of that. Don't get me wrong, it's pretty, but you don't need it.

The sound may not have the musical impact of, say, Halo, but it is very well done. Each of the tracks that are associated with one action or another are well-timed and appropriate. There is also a beauty to space battle being done to classical music. Though it wasn't battle, it worked for 2001: A Space Odyssey.


Despite its simplicity, Flotilla is a strategic turned-based game of space battle. Make no mistake, you are here to kill. First things first, you enter your captain's name, which brings you to the Main Menu. There are two types of play you can access on the Main Menu. There is Adventure 1 and Skirmish. Let's start with Adventure 1.

You can have a player join you on your adventure. On the PC, you will still need a "Game Pad." With this game also being available on LIVE, I wonder where I will get one. While determining if someone will sit next to you and play, you will also be presented with a button that turns on the Hardcore. As advertised, the adventure is longer and the enemies deadlier. Once inside, you are presented with a 3D map of your universe. You first stop is the planet Tutorial. I suggest you spend some time here. I will go over movement in just a second. From any planet, there are a number of choices of where to go. There is something to do on every planet. The choices you make when you travel to these planets can win you friends, gain you ships, or get you into hot water. There is no way to avoid battle. At some point, you are going to have to fight your way out of trouble.

It is time to talk about fighting, and about your ships. While traveling, you will encounter those who want to kill you. This happens to me all the time. You will then enter battle. Battle happens in two phases: The Command phase and the Battle phase. During the Command phase you will instruct each ship individually, one at a time. You have four commands. You can ATTACK (&) MOVE, FLANK (&) MOVE, FOCUS FIRE, or just be DONE with that ship. ATTACK MOVE allows you to move laterally and vertically in space, while firing. FLANK MOVE increases your speed, but will not allow you to fire. FOCUS FIRE will decrease your speed, but increase your fire rate. To move, you will choose a lateral direction and distance, vertical direction and distance, and then orientation to the ship. All ships have some shields. This shielding is usually weaker in the back and bottom. You are trying to maneuver your ships into position and strike your opponent.

Every move you make is stored in your Mission Log. The humorous "Choose Your Own Adventure" style of choices makes the game very entertaining, outside of just blowing stuff up. Each of your ships also has a story as you can see how many kills they have and what their "Veterancy" is. You will earn different upgrades for your ship. While in the map of the universe, you can click on Fleet Setup. This will take you to an interface where you can fill the slots on your ship with weapon and ship upgrades.

The Skirmish Mode allows you to have straight up battles. This mode is not networked on PC, so you can still only involve one other human player. There are two teams, with two player slots each. You can use this to hone your 1v1, 2v1, or co-op gameplay.


Flotilla is one of those conversations in simple mechanics that make for thousands of challenging strategies. Like any battle, the chess game of where to move your ships is a daunting task. Sure, in some battles you may get away with simply overpowering your opponent. But, more times than not, you are the one that is outgunned. You have to really anticipate the flow of battle. It is not just what you do, but what they do to counter you. Are they moving toward you in a head-on attack? Are they flanking you? It is not as easy as it may lead you to believe. I really get that, "There is a cheat code at work here," feeling sometimes. You are going to lose ships. Make sure they lose more.

Game Mechanics:

Flotilla's story archs are a little fantastic. I was not sure at first where the game was actually going with the combination of crazy stories and space battles. But, just like chocolate and bacon, the two parts really do come together very nicely. My want list for the continuation of this game is simple, I want more. I want more ships, more missions, more of everything. Networking for a PC game would be nice as well.

I do have to say this, and not take away from the strides that Flotilla has taken. There are games out there that offer more space battle for the same price point. I temper that fact with the point that these games also demand more from you in time and in immersion. I just had to point that out, if you are here for the massive space battles and cohesive storyline. There are others out there. If you're in the mood for a quirky space battle game, with a well-done battle mechanic that is more on the casual side, this is your game.

I hope this is only the beginning of their plans for this game. It has some serious potential. This is a great "sit back, kill a few minutes at work" style of game, but not so much a "race home to play it" game. So, close your office door, put on your headset, and veg out. There is always another spreadsheet to be done later.

-WUMPUSJAGGER, GameVortex Communications
AKA Bryon Lloyd

Minimum System Requirements:

Pentium III, Windows 2000 SP4, 1 GB, DirectX 9.0c

Test System:

Dell XPS 630i, Vista, Intel Core 2 Quad, 6GB Ram, ATI HD4800

Related Links:

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Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated