It can truly be a real challenge to take a VR game and bring it to consoles. The need for motion tracking headsets and motion controls can make these home console VR experiences completely broken. A few games have tried to bring their VR games to consoles like Nintendo Switch, and each have failed. Battlezone: Gold Edition bucks that trend. I initially went into this review hesitant of the game, fearing that it would be another bad version of a good VR game. To my surprise, Battlezone: Gold Edition makes the transition extremely well and is a lot of fun to play.
For those unfamiliar with Battlezone, it originally launched in arcades back in 1980 and on the Atari 2600 in 1982. The goal of the game is for you to destroy enemy tanks and missiles for high scores. In 2013 the Battlezone franchise was purchased by Rebellion Developments, who released an upgraded virtual reality version of the game on PS4 and PC. Now in 2018, we’re getting a version of the game on Nintendo Switch without the need for a VR headset.
One of the first things I really enjoyed about the game is how fun the game is to play. You control your own tank, a Cobra, and enter the battlegrounds looking to take down tanks. It’s a lot of fun to control the tank and traverse the battlefield to destroy enemies. To my surprise, the game controlled really well and didn’t feel like a VR game. A number of games that were previously VR games didn’t transition well to a traditional controller setup. Camera movement and just overall movement can feel stiff and broken, but Battlezone does a great job at not including these flaws. The camera controls and getting around the battlefield feels good. If I didn’t know previously that this was a VR game, I never would have guessed it.
They did a good job at making the game feel and control great. It’s especially fun to play on the Switch’s handheld screen. The game features short “missions” that you can play, which work great with Switch. I often found myself picking the game up for a few minutes, completing some missions, putting it down, and then doing it all over again later. It’s also quite nice that this isn’t simply a solo experience. The game offers single player, local co-op, and even online co-op. Playing the game with a friend does make the experience easier but, in my opinion, makes it more fun. Being able to tell your friend a tank is coming or being able to get close to each other to heal make it a fun experience for everyone. I’m sure some people will dislike this mode because it makes the game easy, like really easy. If you stay within close range of each other, you rarely ever lose any health. However, there are few co-op experiences like Battlezone out there, so I’d totally recommend grabbing a friend to play with you.
That said, Battlezone has a pretty steep learning curve. If you were to look at trailers or screenshots of the game, you’d assume it’s just a simple first-person shooter. Just run in, start shooting, and win. However, Battlezone is more tactical than that. Running onto the battlefield will get you killed quickly. Enemies surround you, deplete your health, and then you’re gone. Battlezone requires you to think about where to go. You have to figure out the best place to take cover, when to attack an enemy, and which enemy to attack first. This can make the first few times playing the game very frustrating. You have to learn the above points about the game before it becomes fun. Some may not get this far into the game before giving up. Of course, I suggest powering through this difficulty because it’s a fun game. It’s just a shame that there’s this steep learning curve, especially since seeing the trailers and screenshots doesn’t make this totally apparent.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PS4, PC (VR devices)
Release Date: 13th October 2016 (VR devices), 8th November 2018 (Nintendo Switch)