I can easily forgive the figures because I did exactly that at first (lightly painted, widely spaced photo-etch crew on the deck of a cruiser).
I couldn't wait to try 1/700 photo-etch crew when they came out years ago. My first efforts looked just like this. I discovered that photo-etch figures look odd unless you really put a lot of thick paint on them to give them a 3D look.
Another thing was that you need to put a lot of them on the ship...in groups...otherwise it also looks not so good. Crowds lessen the "flatness" of the figures.
So crowding the deck of an aircraft carrier around the planes works, crowding them around some small area of a capital ship works...but sparsely placed crew on a battleship or cruiser gives the effect you see here (and I know their really are a lot of figures on that Royal Oak - but you need much higher density clustered in tight groups to get your brain to not rebel at the flatness of them.
Still...I can't blame any modeler for wanting to add crew...and the ship is really very well done!