One of my earliest memories of playing videogames is seeing and marvelling at Battlezone. It represented a 3D world in which the player sat in a tank surrounded by other tanks, all of whom want to destroy the lone fighter up against seemingly impossible odds.
The movement and representation of tank combat was incredible at the time of its release in 1980, and the two joystick control method added even more realism. So realistic was the experience that the US military actually ended up with a heavily modified version of Battlezone to use as a training aid for actual tank crews.
36 years later and here we are with Battlezone again, only this time it is on PlayStation VR. Developer/publisher Rebellion has set out to recreate the awe of the original game by putting it into the heads of players via the white and blue headset.
Rebellion has put a huge amount of effort in recreating the experience of the original. It had players peering through a porthole onto the screen for maximum immersion. By putting Battlezone onto PSVR, Rebellion has managed to restore the feeling of being in an enclosed shell of a large armoured vehicle that is capable of delivering a significant amount of damage to anything that is unfortunate enough to cross its path.
During EGX 2016 I managed to have a play of Battlezone and was immediately drawn into the Tron-like world Rebellion has created. It's clear the developers are keen to defer to the wireframe graphics of the original game by creating simplistic low polygon models with monotone shading that are very similar to the visuals found in the Tron films.
But while the past is acknowledged, Rebellion has seen fit to bring in modern game design to make Battlezone a more engaging and entertaining experience. It has done this by both using the PSVR to enhance the feeling of being in a tank and by giving the player a choice of weaponry, something that was not available in the original game.
During my session I was initially attacked by tanks from various spawn points across the arena. These were dispatched using the circle strafing method I learned during many years of playing FPS games and the original Battlezone. Eventually I was then assaulted by aerial drones that swooped down on me from all directions, forcing me to use my minigun, a weapon not available in the original game.
The session ended soon after that and I was treated to a series of images of what other environments Battlezone was set in. Jungle, desert, snow and industrial complexes were thrown in front of me as the demo wound down to a close.