When I first played an incarnation of Battlezone it was on the original GameBoy on a games collection cartridge. I remember thinking how cool it was back then, and it’s funny how many years later the same game remastered can blow my mind all over again.
Battlezone puts you in control of a light, medium or heavy armoured tank. The tradeoff is speed and maneuverability vs armour essentially so you get an element of customisation depending on your preference. At its heart, Battlezone is a first-person tank shoot-em up, yet there is a surprising layer of depth here in the form of a rogue-like.
Before the nature of this element comes to light though, it appears that it’s classic Battlezone updated. The wireframe visuals are back with updated bright neon colours. Red is bad, so you’ll want to shoot everything that is red. The environments have a bit more life to them though – they are generally fairly plain coloured with bright accents, clean and crisp – they do a good job of representing a futuristic world and steers Battlezone away from being too like Tron (although this may or may not be a good thing depending on your love for Tron and a desire to play it in a VR space).
Controlling the tank is fairly standard controller fair, with VR serving as your eyes within the cockpit. I’m becoming convinced that this is the best use of VR – immersion in a game controlled as you would normally, but being able to look around as if you would in that real scenario. Your weapons of destruction are equipped based on your preferences at the start of each mission – and upgraded based on points collected in the game. For my money, you can’t go wrong with guns and missiles but that probably says more about me.
I really enjoyed the way that the tanks move – when you say ‘tank game’ I typically think of slow, lumbering movements. Battlezone is quick, the tanks move and slide fast and this adds to some excitement. Motion sickness may be a factor here but I didn’t find it too bad apart from when I went up or down inclines which made me feel weird initially, but soon passed. As the tank loads up at the start of each level and is raised into the game world, you feel like you’re really there – a fantastic experience. As you’re zipping around the game world, it doesn’t get much better than shooting an enemy and blasting right through the debris as it explodes around you.
Speaking of enemies, the types are fairly standard. Enemy light, medium and heavy tanks are there, as well as turrets, flying enemies. All require slightly different tactics and it can feel overwhelming especially as you’re enclosed in a small cockpit. Thankfully, you can play co-op with up to four friends and this just makes the whole thing better.
What was most surprising to me was that Battlezone takes on the form of a rogue like. You start the game on a procedurally generated map and select the difficulty and length of the campaign. Your gains carry from one tile to another (read: level) as you make your way across a game board. Some tiles will supply you, some have bigger threats and bigger rewards. In that respect it bears a striking similarity to FTL.
At its core, Battlezone is a fairly basic game. But it does something simple and does it well, and once you have got over some of the VR tech demos it’s nice to have something that plays well and looks good to make the most out of your PSVR.
Reviewed on PSVR