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Battlezone: Gold Edition – Review (PS4 and Switch)

In November of 1980, the world of video games changed forever. In the halls of arcades everywhere, amidst the bright colors and cheery computer noises was an arcade game that would lay the groundwork for many video games to comes. In November of 1980, a trio of designers at Atari released Battlezone, an innovative arcade game that would blaze a new trail into the future. 

As one of the very first games to use the first-person perspective, Battlezone placed players into the cockpit of a tank and using the unique periscope design of the arcade cabinet, scout the battlefield for enemy tanks and missiles launchers. The game’s battlefield was presented in a wireframe vector graphic battlefield, able to render the battlefield in 3D. Innovative and incredibly fun to play, Battlezone would go on to be released multiple times across almost every platform imaginable for the next 30 years. 

Battlezone would even go on to be used as a training tool for the US Army to train soldiers in the US of the M1 Bradley’s weapons systems. Now, Battlezone has returned for the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch in the form of Battlezone: Gold Edition. While the base game was released in the fall of 2016, Battlezone: Gold Edition reflects a plethora of enhancements and features, including the ability to play without a VR headset. Additionally, it marks the game’s first appearance on the Nintendo Switch.

Battlezone: Gold Edition has a simple premise. The Earth has been taken over by a rogue artificial intelligence. This intelligence has the ability to build and replicates its entire military, deploying it anywhere through teleportation. To combat this threat, an underground resistance has formed, and using reverse-engineering, have developed the ultimate weapon. A remote-controlled battle tank, Using a special cerebral interface, the pilot will be able to navigate and combat the enemy across the Battlezone. The ultimate objective is to destroy the AI Core within the center of the enemy headquarters, which resides within an active volcano. With an entire battlefield to navigate, this will undoubtedly a treacherous and dangerous mission. However, with your skills, weapons, and tank, you will succeed.

Battlezone: Gold Edition is a first-person tank-controlling action game with tactical, roguelike, and procedural generated elements. Players will begin by selecting their preferred tank for combat. Each tank is different and will have different attributes in weight, armor, speed, and armaments. After a brief tutorial, demonstrating the controls and combat mechanics, players are taken to the Battlezone map. 

The map displays a hexagonal grid, with each hexagon being a mission, or encounter with the enemy. The grid will include supply points to resupply your tank, shield generators providing protection for the AI core, and ongoing battles, where players can participate in offensive or defensive battles against the enemy. The length of this map is entirely up to you. Players can set the length and the difficulty for their battle against the A.I core.

When the battle commences, the tank deploys, and players are faced into a battle for their lives. The gameplay in Battlezone: Gold Edition is extremely intense but rewarding and action-packed. The enemy will appear in a variety of forms, from the average battle tank to heavily-armed artillery launchers, to aircraft, turrets, and even explosive trucks. The objective is to shoot smartly, be evasive, and ultimately, survive.  Each weapon that players wield has a finite amount of ammo. 

Each weapon will handle differently from the next, making the weapons, and their variety, a great pleasure in Battlezone: Gold Edition. From heavy smoothbore cannons to machine guns and rail guns, each weapon is a delight to use but also bears strategic advantages. A railgun is perfect for downing a heavily armed target, but a machine gun is effective for small drones and light vehicles. Paying attention to these differences is incredibly important, especially when the AI core dispatches its Nemesis Tank, a heavily armed and immeasurably deadly tank that can end your run very quickly.

The combat experience is incredible. The screen erupts in explosions and laser fire and the soundtrack pulsates with digital percussions and upbeat tunes.  Being able to survive waves of deadly enemies is exciting and every victory feels like a huge relief. This is feeling is further enhanced when other players join you. The game can be played either online or locally, and allow for a maximum of four players. 

When you have a good squad going, the game becomes that much more exciting. However, there is a penalty to be aware of. Players share lives. You can purchase additional lives but they are shared amongst the other squad members. If the entire squad is downed with no lives left, the game is over and players will have to begin again. While it is possible to exit and save progress midway through a campaign, game over will mean starting from the very beginning again.

Battlezone: Gold Edition is fantastic for the PlayStation 4 and just as good on the Nintendo Switch. On the PlayStation 4, players can play with or without VR at 60fps, and with a spectacular visual presentation. The visuals are reminiscent of Battlezone roots in the arcades and also remind me of the eclectic visuals of Tron. The Nintendo Switch version is a solid port, and the biggest advantage is being able to play the game on the go and with other players. The noticeable difference is the framerate and some details, but the game holds up remarkably well and should satisfy those eager to have the Battlezone experience on the switch.

Battlezone, for anyone that was a fan of the movie Tron growing up, this is as close as you are going to get to the movie’s titular game, Space Paranoids.   

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