Battlezone hit the XBox Live Arcade today with a pricetag of 400 MS Points ($5). The game is an update of the old Atari tank-fighting game from 1980, remade by Stainless Games (Crystal Quest, etc). Battlezone was pretty revolutionary back in the day, with its wireframe vector graphics that was one of the closest things you could get to 3D gaming back then. Does the game age well, and does the new version wow as much as the original did?
Here’s the gist of the game: You’re a tank, and you roll around a battlefield littered with polygonal obstacles. Somewhere out there (showing up as a blip on your radar) is your opponent, also driving a tank. You keep driving until you have the other tank directly in front of you, and you fire, obliterating them (or being obliterated) with a single shot. Sure, there’s the chance that you might respawn as a missile that you can guide toward your enemy, but that’s just about the extent of the game.
The XBLA version allows you to play with the classic green wireframe graphics or with the updated 3D graphics, which are still quite minimalistic. There’s also XBox Live Vision camera integration that will let you see the person you’re playing against, but how many people 1) own a Vision camera, and 2) will be matched up with an opponent who also has a camera hooked up?
The Verdict: It’s possible that there could be some nostalgic fun for people who remember playing the original version, but I just don’t see enough variety in the gameplay or challenge here to interest new players. Or, honestly, to even keep the retro gamers going for very long. It’s definitely not worth my $5, and it’s not even a demo I’ll be returning to.