The original Battlezone was released as an arcade game in 1980. The game wasn't good, but it was memorable because its wireframe vector graphics gave the illusion of a 3D environment. Now it's back with a new coat of paint courtesy of Xbox Live Arcade, and it's still not any good.
You can play the new, evolved version of Battlezone or the classic version. Both put you behind the wheel of a tank on some unknown planet. Using the left analog stick to move your tank and aim (there's an option to use the right stick to control the turret as well), you shoot other tanks, flying saucers, and missiles to score points. Aiding you in your mission is a radar that shows the position of enemy tanks and missiles, and there are a few blocks and pyramids sprinkled about to provide cover as well.
That's all there is to the game.The classic version is downright unplayable, and the evolved version, while playable, is terrible. Shooting one enemy at a time while you drive the galaxy's slowest tank is dull. The combination of poor maneuverability and poor visibility makes it easy to get stuck on the few objects that populate the levels. It also makes getting hit from offscreen tank fire a frequent and frustrating occurrence. These problems are less of an issue with the dual-stick controls, which makes you wonder why that's not the default scheme. Both the classic and evolved versions can be played on "throttle monkey" difficulty, which speeds things up a bit and makes the game a little more tolerable--but only because it gets it over with faster.
There's an online mode that pits you against up to three other players; however, in the three weeks since the game has been out we've only been able to find an opponent one time, so it's not of much use. The game's description claims that in addition to Deathmatch there are Team Deathmatch and Capture-the-Flag modes, but we never saw them, and there's no option for them in the create match menus.
The evolved version of Battlezone features slightly updated visuals that maintain the wireframe aesthetic of the original while adding an optional third-person view. The tanks look decent and the explosions look like colorful fireworks, but the planet itself looks hideous. Other than a few blocks and pyramids it's completely devoid of detail. The game does, in fact, have sound. You've been warned.
If you want to relive the 1980s and for whatever reason want Battlezone involved, don't waste 400 Microsoft points ($5) to relive the last days of Jimmy Carter's presidency. Throw on a jean jacket, grab a Tab Cola, put on some Hall & Oates, and play the free demo for a few minutes to get the nostalgia out of your system.