Big tanks, big guns, and lots of action, what's not to like?
For the launch of Sony Interactive Entertainment’s (SIE’s) PlayStation VR, British studio Rebellion brought Atari’s classic 80’s title Battlezone into the 21st century. A tank-based shooter set in a cyber reality that’s hard not to compare to films like Tron, Battlezone now supports Oculus Rift and HTC Vive (reviewed) so their owners get to see what they’ve been missing out on, and they’re likely to be very impressed.
Straight from the off, Battlezone lets you know what it is and what you’ll be doing – if you’ve managed to avoid coverage like this. There are no fancy intro screens, video’s, or elongated fluff to wade through, as soon as the videogame starts you’re sat in a hulking tank with lights, screens, levers and all sorts dotted around you. Everything feels and looks solid, giving an overwhelming sense of power and control at your finger tips. The tank design is highly stylized, especially the environments, but the inside isn’t too OTT that this couldn’t be some futuristic concept vehicle.
To begin with you’ll have three tanks to chose from, Light, Medium, and Heavy, each with its own loadout and particular strengths and weaknesses. As you progress through the title you’ll be able to unlock not only more tanks but a wide array of customisations to swap weaponry and increase its effectiveness for those harder difficulty levels. This is an area Battlezone excels at, Rebellion has really gone all out to offer as much flexibility as possible.
But to play around with all of that you need to kill some enemies and find supply points on the map, there’s no hot swapping, adding a further tactical element to the proceedings. First off, you can either go in solo or head into multiplayer. If you’re playing single-player then you can select a range of map options (size, difficulty) and Battlezone will procedurally generate one – so everytime you play will be different – as such vital locations like supply points will be randomly placed. Doesn’t sound like too much bother does it? That’s until you realise that you need to get to the map’s end location – a central AI core housed in a volcano – as quickly as possible or the Nemesis tank will be unleashed – souped up enemy that will test your driving skills to the limit, so taking diversions have to be weighted up.
Even with all these options, when it comes down to it, what is Battlezone like to play? Two words, intense and addictive. Battlezone is essentially a first-person shooter (FPS), so you can actually strafe in a tank to duck behind cover, quickly swap between various weapon attachments and bomb around the arenas to your hearts content. Controls feel snappy and agile, with the light tank able to quickly nip between cover, while the heavy tank soaks up the damage without feeling too cumbersome.
Battlezone is arcade VR action at its finest, with options galore allowing players to uniquely hone their combat strategies. With both extensive single-player and multiplayer modes there’s enough here for countless hours of gameplay, so you can comfortably sit cocooned inside these rolling machines of destruction and never get bored, because quite frankly, it’s too much fun. PlayStation VR owners have been enjoying Battlezone for months, if you own an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive you don’t need to have second thoughts about this, Battlezone is one of the best VR titles out there.