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Reviewed: BattleZone 2
Author: Michael Ahlf       Date: June 11th 2000
Page: 2

The fun part of this game is in its perspective; some RTS titles offer players a close-in viewing perspective, but the BattleZone line is the only one to date which actually makes the player a single unit on the playing field. Self-defense is just as important as achieving the goals of the mission, since you can die if you're not careful. It also leaves open a small possibility of independent action, since some missions are actually easier with a little covert spying.

Most important in the game is the player--the pilot. Hopping in and out of ships, taking over enemy craft with the use of a sniper rifle and being generally undetected (well, until you attack), the pilot is actually a decently powerful unit on its own. Going up the technology ladder, there are scout type units with light weaponry, midrange units that are decently maneuverable and have medium firepower, and the high-power tanks as well as long-range sniper units. For defense, there are small-scale turrets which can be repositioned as well as longer-range, more powerful gun towers. Thankfully, the resource system is kept simple; there is one resource in the game, called scrap. Scrap is found in pools, or left behind when units are destroyed. Units called scavengers collect the scrap and turn into extractors to pull it from the pools. Once this is done, the scrap can be used for making new units or buildings.

The intro screen has a
rotating planet viewer as
well as mission logs.
Nighttime with a squadron
of scout vehicles.
A Scion group; note
the smoke trails on
damaged units.

Part of the charm of the game is the ease of use--units, when constructed, are automatically assigned a hotkey (F1 to F10). Hitting the hotkey gives an easy number-based menu of options, keeping the options out of the way unless needed. CRTL-key binding can regroup units together, to link similar units to one hotkey. With a total of 10 units per hotkey, the grand total of units available is 100. While this seems like a small number, it's actually pretty hard to overflow unless you're really careless and don't group specific units together. Buildings and large-scale gun towers don't fall under this restriction, leaving it possible to fortify an entire area with very little to do with active units.

The presence of units (buildings, pilots), which don't fall under the geometric restrictions can present a problem too; the game winds up having to process a massive amount of geometric information even on the lowest geometry settings. Add this to the problem of keeping track of AI for every gun-tower, turret, enemy and allied vehicles, and the processor quickly winds up bogged down in high-action situations. This is especially true in multiplayer, where every unit's movement has to be coordinated over the internet connection. A full squadron of APC's, which release groups of pilots when setting down, managed to crash a 10 Mbit ethernet connection in a one-on-one game, proving that the multiplayer isn't quite as stable as it should be.

An IDSF base.
The IDSF Assault Tank.
3rd person camera with
aiming laser.

In terms of storyline, the game follows a classic formula: you begin facing an "unknown assailant", who is attacking bases on the perimeter of human civilization (Pluto). Moving along, there are signs that the unknown assailant is actually human, who eventually takes one side. For those interested in a different turn of events, there is an option to play the same side to the end, revealed only after the game is finished (see picture 1). The ending itself is pretty dramatic: you're left wondering if the choice made was in fact the right one, or if you've just doomed Earth and humanity to a dire fate.

Go To: [ Previous | Next | Home ] - Control/Interface, Graphics, and Sound
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Added:  Sunday, June 11, 2000
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf
Score:
Page: 2/5

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