Since no one has ever made a game where tanks fight, Battlezone seems especially exciting...
BattleZone for the PSP, as you might guess, is another update/remake of the quarter-century-year-old classic Atari game of the same name. E3 marked our first hands-on play test with the upcoming PSP tank shooter, and our impressions so far are a mixed bag. Can developer -- Paradigm Entertainment -- capitalize on the arcade game's storied history, or will the game prove to be another watered down remake in an effort to render a quick buck?
In a general sense, BattleZone doesn't deviate too far from its pixilated roots, as gameplay is still very much based on taking the helm of futuristic tanks, and going head-to-head against the opposition. The big difference with the PSP rendition is obviously the visual flair, and the vast amount of gameplay modes and options that are able to fit on a UMD. Although only a couple of gameplay modes were playable during my experience with the E3 demo, the game promises plenty more for your money, as shown by a wealth of unelectable modes of play. A basic deathmatch, and a mode dubbed Hotzone were the two gameplay modes that show-goers were allowed to indulge in.
Control-wise, this early build of BattleZone tended to frustrate me. Of course I could probably master them with a good hour or so at the helm, but obviously time didn't permit this. I guess what I'm trying to say is that the controls lacked any sort of intuitive feeling. Strafing, positioning, and setting up your enemies proved to be a great challenge, as I often found myself overcompensating for my tank's floaty movements. Fortunately, some of the controls allow you to perform some pretty neat things, such as engaging rocket boosters, and hovering to access otherwise unreachable platforms. I'm sure that once the devs create something that capitalizes on the PSP's strengths as a controller, everything else will fall into place, and gameplay will be a blast.
Visually, BattleZone certainly sets a new standard for the franchise in itself, with a silky smooth framerate to boot. Stacking the game up to other PSP titles at the show however, places it along the lines of average. At this point I think it's safe to say that besides a few cool particle effects, there's nothing here that's going to leave you awe inspired. There's plenty of polys behind some of the games different mechanized tanks and environments, but all too often I witnessed sub par texture work, and pixilation. Hopefully these are areas that will be cleaned up once the final product arrives in stores.
Aside from all things visual, BattleZone really looks to set the bar in terms of the sheer amount of customization brought to the table. If you're looking to outfit your tank with a variety of weapons, and special features, you've come to the right place. If you're looking to be able to create your own levels via the game's built in level editor, then step right up. Simply put, if Paradigm Entertainment can clean up some of the minor nuisances that currently plague the title, then the customization features themselves can carry BattleZone to certain loftiness. Whether or not the game is able to reach this plateau will become evident upon its release this November.