It’s been a good while since I last played any kind of tank game, in fact, World of Tanks to the side, I believe I would be going back pre-360. Battlezone spans back to the days of the fabled Nintendo 64 and came back for another round via a remake on the PS, and now, it’s releasing multiplat as the Battlezone: Gold Edition. This specific edition includes the core game, classic mode and all previously released tank skins, horns and bobbleheads. Those of you that already own the prior version on alternate platforms can pick up this edition at no additional cost.
The aim of the game is as straight forward as can be. Following a pre-set selection of varying levels, your job is to man different tanks in order to fight back against the tides of incoming enemy forces. Missions typically vary from destroying enemies, wiping out structures, domination and so on and so forth, before eventually taking on a boss battle. Progress made within the overarching hexagonal-squared map that accumulates the objectives will often reward you, allowing you to eventually visit the Supply Point to purchase new items and weaponry.
Mercifully, the enemy’s AI also climbs alongside you in complexity and difficulty. Each tank-type that you can utilize (beginning with light, medium and heavy) can be cosmetically kitted out in a wide number of ways. This doesn’t give you an edge in the fields of play, but it does spruce up the adventure to some degree. The goal at all times, however, is to reach the end of the aforementioned map, which is much harder than it sounds, especially given the fact that the difficulty curve is so well struck. Throw in the nemesis encounters, which can happen at any given moment, and we’ve a recipe for some tense combat.
That being said, Battlezone Gold Edition supports online play with up to three other players in place of AI companions. This, on the other hand, is an option that you may want to reserve for your friends. Playing with random players, I often found that the overall experience was hindered by enthusiastic leaders that don’t want to communicate. Battlezone Gold Edition isn’t a game that demands a severe level of tact or strategy, but having a leader player skip to the game without allowing additional players the ability to upgrade, is somewhat frustrating. This, unfortunately, happened more often than not.
It’s an easy flaw to overlook in the grand scheme of things, but more choice when it comes to following players would have been a welcoming sight. Playing with actual friends is the best way to go, because not only can you take your time and carefully consider your options, but coordination is more fluid and arguably more fun. It’s also worth mentioning for newcomers that this game can indeed be pretty harsh to gel with at first, though, as you climb deeper into the experience and acquire more power and capability, Battlezone Gold Edition slowly becomes less constrict and a lot more fun and engaging.
The game plays out via first person perspective, set within the backdrop of a simplistic yet effective sci-fi setting. Battlezone Gold Edition uses a wide range of screen-popping colors and a blocky polygon style. Rebellion’s care and attention to detail pulls through magnificently well here, providing a compelling atmosphere that never takes itself too seriously. Sadly, the same cannot entirely be said about the soundtrack and audio cues, which are generic and flat throughout the entirety of play. Don’t get me wrong, at times the over-tone works extremely well, but it soon begins to grate before long.
This isn’t a deal breaker, so to speak, but it would have been a much more immersive experience with better quality on this front. The maps never come across linear, meaning you can almost always find your own route and go about your own business as you follow the lines of natural progression. The ‘Fog of War’ that sits on the over-map can also be removed via a radar, which helps the player and promotes some forward thinking. Whatever the path, the gameplay typically consists of combat against tanks, planes, turrets and base destroying. Thanks to how fluid the controls are, grouped with the addictive random nature of the game, Battlezone Gold Edition never truly gets old.
Fittingly, Battlezone Gold Edition brings back a feature that we rarely see in games of this type nowadays, lives. Players will begin Battlezone Gold Edition with just three lives, with more being available for purchase later on. If you bite the proverbial bullet enough times and run out of lives, you’re sent back to square one. Fortunately, you do get to keep your unlocks and purchases, which makes subsequent runs more bearable. On the flip side, once you complete your chosen campaign – of varying length and difficulty – you will lose everything. This, if anything, bolsters the already impressive replay value.
Battlezone Gold Edition is fun, engaging and well developed. There’s plenty of content within, seemingly designed in such a way that it maintains a great level of replay value without running the risk of becoming stale and repetitive. It plays well, it looks great and above all else, it’s easy to gel with and understand. If you’re a fan of arcade tank warfare, Battlezone Gold Edition will be a great investment.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.