It's strange to see BattleTanx come to the PlayStation, since it has always seemed as though 3DO started the series on the Nintendo 64 because there weren't any Twisted Metal-type games there. Now it's arrived on the PlayStation (where vehicle-based shooters run like wine) and without a four-player mode .... But it's not totally without merit.
BattleTanx's storyline is a combination of the plots from at least several apocalyptic '70s sci-fi films and novels. In this latest edition (the first appeared only on the N64), you and your wife are safeguarding chieftains of a new civilization and have recently sired a child - a rarity in this future world, where most of the women have died due to a strange, if modestly generic, plague. One of the other world leaders, a madwoman who controls most of Europe, has discovered that your son has telepathic powers (known as The Edge) similar to her own, and she sets out to steal him from you before he develops fully. When her troops (they're all in tanks - everyone drives tanks in this game, just accept it) fail to kidnap him, she uses The Edge to take control of your forces, setting the three of you on the run. At that point you pop into your trusty tank and fight the good fight.
Besides your main guns, there are secondary weapons and power-ups such as grenades, which you can throw into fortified areas or bounce around corners to destroy heavy gun emplacements; a plasma pulse that zooms around the screen until it finds a target; and a cloaking effect that renders you invisible after a Predator-style shimmer. And you're not the only one who gets to pick them up; you'll find that the enemy tanks use them frequently, perhaps to your chagrin, but it at least adds to the game's challenge. No doubt about it though, the best weapon you have in your arsenal is The Edge, which initially only stuns opponents within close range, but later it allies them with you, once your abilities have improved.
The game's life system is set up so that instead of having a set number of lives, you acquire tank bucks, which you use to buy different tanks. The basic Abrams tanks cost a standard amount of money, while the beefy Goliaths run more than twice as much, and the small quick rides run about half the price of the basic tank. How you want to spend your cash is up to you. There are also more tanks to choose from in the sequel - from the Inferno, which sports a flamethrower, to the Marksman, which equips a laser you can use to snipe from a distance.
One thing that the PlayStation version of BattleTanx: Global Assault has over its N64 counterpart is more levels, although that's a bit of a mixed blessing. BattleTanx: GA on the N64 had almost twice as many levels as the original game, and they felt less cookie-cutter and offered more variety. You could play a few simple search-and-destroy missions back-to-back, but they'd be followed up by one in which you'd have to guard a convoy or free allies from a prison. However, these new PlayStation-specific levels feel like more of the same, which takes away from the entire game. The levels that had felt original on the N64 don't now, because there are three more like them here.
The tanks, weapons, and stages help out a lot throughout the game's multiplayer deathmatch variations, but you'll skip over many of them for the Battlelord stages, where you must steal opponents' queens and return them to your base, all the while defending your own matriarch. The two-player co-op mission, where you and a friend play the main game from a split-screen perspective, is BattleTanx: GA's main asset, even though the frame rate is a little jumpy.
While the graphics in BattleTanx: GA don't appear quite first-generation, they don't stack up to the graphics in similar games on the PlayStation such as Twisted Metal and Vigilante 8, all of which run at a much faster frame rate. The horizon is always enshrouded by a very lackluster fog effect; the game's explosions are wholly unimpressive; and the between-level introductions consist of simple text rundowns. The soundtrack is essentially the same as in the Nintendo 64 edition, which worked well enough for a cartridge-based game, but on a CD-based system, it's severely lacking.
Instead of playing to the PlayStation's abilities, this port tries to match the N64 version as much as it can, without improving the areas where it could exceed it. If you've really been looking forward to playing this game, you're much better off renting a Nintendo 64 and the N64 edition to see it done right.