The original Battlezone was a smash hit back in the early days of home gaming. The simple vector graphics still managed to create a 3D world where tanks battled each other in a future landscape full of danger. Rebellion’s take on the classic adds to the story with an equal futuristic flourish of viruses and virtual enemies that both pays homage to the original and adds some interesting new elements.
After PS4 and Xbox owners got to witness the excellent tank-based gameplay it’s now, thankfully, the turn of the Switch, making the game portable at the same time. Switch owners get the luxury of having all the DLC, tweaks and extra modes from the off, via the Gold Edition, including a return to that old classic version from yesteryear.
The single player mode presents you with a VR style play area made up of a hexagonal grid, much like a strategy game of old. There are hidden dangers that lurk in some spaces and bonuses in others, but the main aim is to get across to the mainframe to shut down the enemy.
In multiplayer, Battlezone tasks you with working together in its online mode. Working as a team, you edge across the grid filled with hexagonal areas in order to reach the end goal.
With limited ammo and shields, it helps to work together to heal each other and work on a strategy of attacking the enemy from all sides. Given the right level of communication, this game is a great team experience; shooting aircraft from the sky while your team-mate takes on the enemy ground troops.
Battlezone attempts to straddle the line between the original’s clean cut simple lines and a more modern polygon-based future and the aesthetics are great. It’s part Tron, part cartoon but these both work to the game’s favour. offering arenas that look just how you imaged VR would look back in the 90s and were disappointing to find that, back then, it just didn’t.
Single player is similar but more difficult as you’ll be fighting hard against the odds here. The game gives you depleting shields, a whole host of extra weapons and various upgrades for huge chunks of cash which need to be carefully earned in-game. Pretty soon you’ll most likely become a cropper unless you manage to move slowly, outflank the enemy and probably get lucky in the process. The balance has been tweaked since the first launch on VR and added weapons and ships help balance the odds. The strategy forces you to think ahead and helps prevent this from being a mindless arcade shooter.
A nice extra on Switch is the ability to mimic the head turning of the original VR version by enabling the motion controls to ‘turn’ your view while inside the tank. It’s not quite as immersive as VR, of course, and takes some getting used to, but it’s a nice idea that makes you feel more like you’re there inside the cockpit.
The Switch copes admirably with the fast paced hectic action, even with many enemies on screen at once, though I noticed some frame rate drops at times. Graphically the game has been paired down a little to cope, but still looks great thanks to the ‘VR’ style artwork. The only issue was that the handheld mode felt cramped at times from inside the cockpit view and took a little more of a hit to the frame rate than when docked.
Battlefield Gold Edition is a great addition to the Switch’s library and pretty unique on the system at the time of writing, too. If you fancy some tank based old-school gameplay with the bonus of playing one of the best original 3D arcade games in it’s vector graphics glory, then I can certainly recommend this.