Tanks for the memories.
Okay, I admit it. Being from a younger generation, I am ignorant of the older, great Atari games that I've heard so much about. I can't stay in a conversation reminiscing about the "old" days when all 3D games were just simple, 2 color vector wireframes. Does that make me any less "hardcore?" Personally, I don't really care. I can still tell an awesome game when it comes along.
Simply put, Battlezone is great. I really cannot say that I remember the old Battlezone (featured on the Atari) but that makes no difference. Battlezone is one of the top games of the year displaying awesome graphics, addictive gameplay and whose only real drawback is its steep system requirements.
As the gaming world has progressed, two major genres have emerged: real time strategy & 3D shooter/action. Some games have made a valiant effort to combine these two genres. For example, Dungeon Keeper, basically a real-time strategy, lets the player jump into the eyes of any character, thus mixing in some 3D action. Uprising, on the other hand, was basically a 3D-action deal with the ability to build different structures and units. Battlezone takes the point of view of the latter: you command different units, which build structures, which in turn pump out more units. You can only control the certain unit you are currently in.
One aspect that Battlezone uses especially well is its story. Remember the "space race" during the cold war? Well, Battlezone unveils the hidden war against the Russians that was unbeknownst to the public. The game does an excellent job setting up different battlegrounds on different planets as two forces race toward domination of the universe. Levels range from Luna (Earth's Moon), Mars, Venus, Europa, Io and Titan (moons of Jupiter). Each planet has its own distinct characteristics including terrain, sky, and fog. Someone did their homework, research-wise.
Players can choose to play as either the standard American forces, or for the more experienced people, the Russian (former Soviet) campaign. People purchasing Battlezone only for the single player aspect will definitely get their money's worth. Like many great games, it also provides impressive multiplayer support. Online players have the option of playing strategy games, where the point is to build up a base, units etc., or just regular deathmatch where each players chooses a vehicle and everyone has at it. Either way, setting up games is simple and fully supported via different Activision sites and the HEAT network.
Battlezone's graphics are just breathtaking. The landscape engine resembles that of Mechwarrior (& the more recent Heavy Gear), except with major improvements. As previously mentioned, each planet has its own characteristics, displayed almost flawlessly by the superb terrain engine. The innovative map/radar gives a 3D perspective, displaying hills and valleys on the planet. Objects in the game are also excellent. Detailed models have high polygon counts as well as good textures. All object animation (including ships flying, units fighting, and building, uh, buildings) are smooth and pleasing to the eye. But all of the marvelous eye candy is only available to those with a fast system (3D acceleration is definitely recommended).
Battlezone is one of those all around great games. The original (semi-original) gameplay throws a new splash into the gaming mix, while the awesome graphics will leave any gamer drooling in awe. Impressive single player and well-supported multiplayer action is, well, I used all the good words up already, but you get the picture. Anyone with a few bucks to spare should REALLY pick this one up.