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BattleZone Review

Developer: Paradigm Entertainment Publisher: Atari
Release Date: October 31, 2006 Also On: None

It was only a matter of time before BattleZone resurfaced in some form or another. The classic 1980s arcade shooter is being updated to the modern age on Sony’s PlayStation Portable. Atari has brought vehicular military combat to a handheld system, hoping to create a game that would perhaps borrow a little bit of arena shooting action, though in third person, from their popular Unreal Championship on Xbox. The only question is: was it worth bringing the franchise back?

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Let’s get this clear from the start: if you don’t have a friend that owns a PSP to play with, you might as well look elsewhere. BattleZone was a game built for multi-player, and since it does not have Infrastructure Mode (for whatever crazy reason), you can only play offline. That’s a clear downside that Atari should have addressed before releasing the game. Nearly two years out from the PSP’s launch now, there simply isn’t an excuse for not having online multi-player. The limited online functionality that is offered includes a map editor, leader boards and downloadable skins.

I guess Atari’s big selling point for BattleZone is the customizable tank options. If you’re expecting Need for Speed customization of your tank with customized plates, turrets and treads, you’re going to be disappointed. These custom parts all have to do with performance, not making it more flashy. There is a rather limited number of choices for you to choose from. You select a country, a weight class and two weapons. You can also add three power-ups to improve your performance even more. Most everything is locked until you play through single-player.

Now imagine in your head an arena, not much different from Unreal or Quake where a bunch of little hovercraft tanks float around shooting at each other. These arenas are spread throughout the world in abandoned Russian cities, Chinese jungles, desert canyons, Antarctica and the Canary Islands. Don’t get too excited though, there’s not much to them. You have a lot of slopes to climb and deep crevasses to explore, but it’s your fairly standard battle arena. You do have lifts that will bounce your tank into the air and away from opponents and things like that.

As far as game modes go, there is a decent offering provided. Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Team Deathmatch, Hotzone, Knockout and Fox and Hound are all available for play. Nothing fancy or overly creative, but this is what we’ve come to expect from most shooters. All of them play well enough, despite a somewhat boneheaded computer A.I. that may frustrate you more than once in games involving team cooperation. This seems to balance out by the fact that your opposing team isn’t too bright either.

BattleZone is a game with a lot of potential that wasn’t fully fleshed out. The single-player campaign isn’t very long, further showing that the game was designed to be played with actual human beings. Unless you have friends with PSPs or you’re Richie Rich with complimentary PSPs for your friends, you probably won’t get much out of this game. Had the developers took the time to enable online multi-player, this could have possibly been the PSP’s answer to Unreal. Due to this fact, unless you have access to multiple PSPs, I can’t recommend this game until you see it in the bargain bin.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 6
Creativity: 6
Replay Value/Game Length: 5
Final: 6.2
Written by Kyle Review Guide