Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: Arcade, Multiplayer & Action
Release Date: November 8, 2018 (EU & NA)
I remember playing Battlezone for the first time on PS VR back in October of 2016 and remember being blown away by the visuals and the feeling of actually being inside a futuristic tank. Unfortunately, I never fully came to terms with the controls and only played on rare occasions due to dying way too frequently, even on the easiest difficulty. Something was missing and I couldn’t really quite grasp what would actually make the experience of being in a tank fun. Fast forward to 2018 now, and after giving Battlezone another shot with the Gold Edition on Nintendo Switch, I can safely say this is probably my favorite tank shooter I’ve ever played.
First off, Battlezone: Gold Edition comes packed with an in-depth tutorial, something that wasn’t featured in the base Battlezone game. With the smallest amount of hand-holding, I learned that I’ve been neglecting one of the best and most robust co-op titles available.
It can be played single-player, however, cruising around the battlefield with another tank devising strategies and systematically wiping the map clean of enemies, makes for one of the most fulfilling multiplayer experiences around. Communication is fortunately not mandatory, and you’ll come to the realization that staying together is the best way to take out the enemy forces.
In-between missions you are able to upgrade your tank with health boosts, new weapons, maneuverability options, and more. Using your ability to heal should be priority number one on the battlefield and you heal yourself and revive others just by being in close proximity to another member of your team.
This means you should always stay together, whether human or AI controlled ally, and heal often. Out of all the things Battlezone: Gold Edition does right, it’s a shame that it never tells you this healing concept, but once you learn to use it, Battlezone becomes slightly easier and infinitely more fun.
Missions admittedly don’t have a ton of variety, but they’re always enjoyable to play through. With each successful completion of each mission, your bank account will be bolstered with additional cash used to upgrade. With every turn, you’ll be faced with the challenging decision of what to do with your newfound wealth. You can either upgrade your current weapons or buy new ones, change your special attack, buy extra lives, or reinforce your four shields.
This is all necessary due to Battlezone getting much more difficult as you progress and each game will take hours to complete, regardless of whether you decide to beeline it to the final level, or take your time and explore every inch of the grid-based map.
The combat is fast and smooth and the control mechanics are like any classic FPS. You’ll soon have four weapon slots to fill and cycle between, and plenty of health and shield upgrades to move on. The few seconds it takes to arm a new weapon when switching are always tense, forcing you to find cover and continuously strafe and maneuver to avoid enemy fire.
Enemies also become gradually stronger and better equipped as you progress, and special purple icons on the map signify the location of a Nemesis, a powerful adversary who’ll pose a stern challenge even for the most skilled players. Taking out Shield Generators will weaken the enemy, so prioritizing those are essential, even if those missions are much more difficult.
Progress can be saved in-between missions, so don’t worry about finishing each overall war zone in one sitting. The time actually flies by if you’re experiencing this with a friend online or even with AI controlled bots, and conquering the boss at the end of a map leads to a real feeling of camaraderie, that unfortunately, I haven’t experienced in many other games. Luckily, multiplayer does support a drop-in and drop-out mechanic so your team may only be stranded on occasion.
Battlezone: Gold Edition’s levels have a beautiful Tron-inspired look and the inside of your tanks feature great detail. The music is pumping with swelling beats and whirling techno sounds that fit the aesthetic perfectly. Battlezone may be difficult, but if you start on Easy and slowly work your way up unlocking new tanks and weapons for each subsequent playthrough, you’ll get the hang of it quickly. There are also skins, novelty horns and dashboard bobbleheads based mostly on previous developer Rebellion franchises. Loadouts can only be switched at special Supply Points, situated every few grid spaces on the map, so you’ll often plan your route through the the campaign, based on their location.
Overall, Battlezone: Gold Edition is a feature-rich remake of what was a very simplistic 1980’s arcade game. You may prefer the authenticity of actually being in a tank with the PS VR version, but the Switch edition is just as great, if not better due to being able to take the title on-the-go. It is designed to be accessible and challenging at the same time, and is fun to play with others or alone. While the minimalist look and lack of a defined story may be a turn-off, Battlezone is still one of the best tank-based arcade games available.
THE VERDICT: 8/10
*Review Key Provided by Rebellion
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This post was written by minusthebrant