By Steven Bilodeau
is, supposedly, an updated version of the early-80s arcade tank
game. In reality, it bears little resemblance to that old classic. Instead
of just ducking out from green pyramids, this a first person real-time
strategy game. Activision has taken the engine from its successful
Dark Reign title and added to it the first-person combat action
from Interstate 76. The result is a thinking gamers action
The story behind
the game is interesting. Apparently the space race of the 1960s
between the Americans and the Soviets wasnt just about prestige.
The race was on to get to the moon to harvest a wondrous bio-metal that
would tip the balance of power to whomever possessed it. You play the
role of a soldier on either side of the conflict, either in solo missions
or head-to-head in multiplayer action.
The game requires
a lot of strategic thinking. You have to deploy your recyclers and factories
over geysers on the moon, Mars, Venus and all the other planets youll
visit. The geysers power is used to create new tanks, weaponry and
to effect repairs. The supply is not unlimited; youve got a limited
amount of pilots to operate these units, and a limited amount of resources
to build them.
building this equipment, youre also required to complete different
missions. Recon and destroy missions take you away from your base, leaving
it vulnerable to attack. Its up to you to create and deploy the
right type of unit to defend the base while youre gone. You also
have to manage the tanks and scout ships that can defend you while trying
to complete the mission.
You can see
how this can be challenging!
created a graphical banquet in Battlezone. The graphics are gorgeous,
with plenty of variety and detail. It takes advantage of 3D accelerators
so the action on the screen moves quickly and smoothly. There is plenty
of detail in all of the objects that youll encounter, whether theyre
large power generating towers, or enemy gun turrets, or even a soldier
who has bailed out of his vehicle.
is not up to Activisions usual standards. Though there is good variety,
it gets scratchy and muddy at times. Its not bad enough to affect
enjoyment of the game, just not something that adds to it. The in-game
music is, on the other hand, appropriate to the action.
The game moves
along between missions with briefings similar to those in Mechwarrior
2. However for some reason, Activision allows the briefings to occur
with only sound; no graphics at all just a blank screen. At first
I thought my video setup was haywire, but I learned that this is the games
design. This omission is very strange coming from a company like Activision.
On the other hand, when there IS a cut-scene, it matches the games
graphics and really fits in.
are geared towards a mouse/keyboard combination, and it works quite well.
The rest of the game controls are also easy enough to learn in a short
period of play. I really appreciated the three-level training section.
It introduces the player to the controls and the on-screen displays for
weaponry, targeting and strategy.
The game is
very challenging, often requiring many replays to successfully complete
a level. The difficulty is fair, and not based on some gimmick. When your
tank gets destroyed, you are not instantly out of the fight. You can just
call over another one of your team and hop into the drivers seat.
The save-game feature is also first rate. You can save your position anywhere
in the game and return to it just as easily. The game will remember where
you were, what speed you were travelling, where your bases are, and where
the enemys are. In other words, unlike many strategy games, you
can pick this one up exactly where you left off.
has everything going for it. Its intellectually challenging, but
yet it contains an excellent first-person combat engine. All this and
Bilodeau is a columnist for the Edmonton Journal. You can find more of
his columns atwww.southam.com/edmontonjournal/computers/bilodeau.html.
Bilodeau can be reached via e-mail atStevenB@msn.com.
And for more computer news, visit JournalExtra, the World Wide Web site
of The Edmonton Journal, at http://www.edmontonjournal.com.
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