Battlezone returns without being tangled up in VR wires, how does it fare in normal reality? The FNGR GNS Review;
Battlezone was a pretty fun game in VR. I distinctly remember it was one of the first games a friend of mine played when I went to show off my PSVR headset to him. He was blown away, he couldn’t believe how immersive it felt. It didn’t have quite the same effect on me, though I enjoyed it for the most part. My relationship with VR ended rather quickly after I played some games that made me violently ill (I’m looking at you Star Wars Battlefront VR modes), so upon hearing that Battlezone would be returning without VR I was interested to see if it still had the same enjoyment without the novelty aspect.
Battlezone seems to suffer from the same thing Extinction did. It does one thing well, but it doesn’t really do much else. If you’re unfamiliar, Battlezone puts you in seat of a tank and has you take down everyone and everything that is trying to attack you. Your tank is equipped with missiles, rockets and blasters and the aiming is pretty good, it feels heavy but powerful and allows you to be direct whilst moving at a brisk enough pace – even if you are technically hovering over the ground -, throughout you feel like you’re actually at the controls of a big ass tank and that feels pretty cool. You’re HUD surrounds you throughout so you never feel like just a person shooting things, the weight of your movement and all the information being pumped at you from every direction adds to the authenticity, even if the latter can get in the way a little.
Away from the main game screen lies a map for the campaign, presented by adjoined hexagons upon a 3D plane. On first glance it appears there’s a multitude of different routes you can take throughout, being able to possibly move from one level to another without having to do the same route over and over again depending on how you want to go through the campaign. Sadly, this is not the case. Thought there’s a little bit of free reign, you’re gently nudged to go in the direction of enemy towers. It’s all a bit of an illusion, which is unfortunate as you feel you like you have a level of choice in how you want to play through the game. The rewards are not worth the difficulty of heading off the ‘chosen’ path, so it makes it all rather pointless. The menu itself is a bit of a mess, with so much information on the screen at once and writing which is difficult to read, even without VR. I’ve been playing this game on a 50-inch 4K flat screen and there were words I couldn’t make out. How can you push this game out and not tighten up the display? It wasn’t particularly easy to manage it all in VR, now somehow it’s even worse and I can’t begin to fathom how that’s possible.
The campaign isn’t anything to write home about. The missions feel random but aren’t, and include varying objectives you probably would have played already. From taking down waves of familiar enemies to escorting and taking down big towers for some reason (other than they’re bad, I’m sure there’s a purpose in there somewhere). There’s minimal variety and in the end makes it all feel like a series of rotating minigames rather than a cohesive campaign that’s worth getting stuck into. You almost never feel ready for a battle either, and this is a huge issue when it comes to a game where you’re meant to be stacked to the nines with powerful ammo that can take out tanks in a single hit.
You’ve got missile lauchers, cannons, rockets, machine guns and they all feel weak, which is quite astounding really. The visuals, as primal as they are, never once made it seem like what I was doing was particularly impressive. The sound mix is odd, to the point where I was blowing up towers and the audio that activated upon said blowing up almost seemed it was being recorded underwater. The aiming is tight and concise, but you don’t ever really have that moment of ‘damn, I’m in a tank’. There’s no recoil, probably too much ammo to make you ever think you’re under any kind of pressure. There’s little to make that reality seem real, and this is something I felt even when I played the game in VR. I don’t even want to mention the AI. Ugh.
This ‘Gold Edition’ adds extra cosmetic items such as bobbleheads, tank skins and horns which up the fun factor and a Classic Mode which is based on the original Battlezone arcade cabinet and takes the visuals waay back to the original black and green blocky wonderment the series began as. The controls also revert back to the original standards and is a good chunk of nostalgic fun.
And that’s all there really is to it. There’s nothing here to really get you pumped or excited about something which absolutely should get you pumped and excited. I’ve no idea how they managed to make blowing up tanks a dull exercise, something that you’ll get bored by, yet here it is. It’s almost baffling. There is potential here, and you have to wonder should a sequel ever arise that it will be tightened up in areas to make it all a bit more adrenaline pumping. There are different weapons, abilities and unique loadouts dependent on how you want to shoot your enemies differently this time around. None of it makes a huge difference but the option to customise is a welcome one.
So Battlezone Gold Edition is a disappointment, and the more you play through the more it’s apparent that VR is probably where this belongs. It’s a shame, I mentioned up top I was interested to see if this was still as fun as it was when you’re actually sat in the middle of a tank with enemies surrounding you at every turn. I wondered if the experience could translate to our traditional realities.
It isn’t. And it doesn’t.
Battlezone Gold Edition is out now on Xbox One (reviewed on Xbox One S), PS4 and PC. It will arrive on Nintendo Switch in the summer.
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a review code from the publishers. For our full review policy please go here.