E3 06: BattleZone Hands-On

Atari and Paradigm entertainment are updating the classic vector-graphics tank combat arcade game for the PSP.


LOS ANGELES--Atari is reviving the classic BattleZone name once again for the simply titled BattleZone for the PSP, and we were able to get our hands on a demo version of the game at E3 2006. Similar to the classic arcade game upon which it is based, BattleZone is all about tank combat with a futuristic bent to it, which translates into hover tanks armed with an array of potent energy weapons.

The demo we played put the focus on arena combat against artificial intelligence opponents. The game gave us two different modes to choose from, and a pretty great level of customization across the map. There were two game types available in the demo that we played, including a deathmatch mode and a more tactical mode where you vie for control of a series of checkpoints scattered about the level, though it was apparent that the final version of the game would include a wealth of additional gameplay modes from the grayed-out options we saw. We also had several different tanks to choose from, as well as the option to modify the weapon load-out. Additionally, we could tweak the number of AI players, the fierceness of the AI, the length of the match, and various win conditions. Like a less-involved version of a hardcore mech combat simulation, we could definitely see spending a lot of time just playing around with the different game configurations.

After we jumped into the game, the action itself was pretty fast and furious, and it didn't take long to get the hang of things. Movement was controlled, naturally, with the D pad, while face buttons were used to launch our different attacks, as well as manually activate our shields, which are of utmost importance since some of the big guns can pack a serious punch, and there are also automated turrets in the level that can make life hard. Of course, death isn't permanent in BattleZone, and you can quickly respawn right back into the action.

Though we were only able to experience BattleZone in a single-player environment, the game will feature ad hoc multiplayer support, which seems like it might be the optimal way to play the game. BattleZone is currently slated to hit the PSP this November.

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