I first played Battlezone 2 many years ago, I believe around the time of its original release. My memory of playing it then is hazy, and I wasI first played Battlezone 2 many years ago, I believe around the time of its original release. My memory of playing it then is hazy, and I was not very good at it, but I was no doubt thrilled to be playing a sequel to one of my favorite games ever, to this day. In retrospect I suppose I was quite lucky to do so, as the original release was apparently bug-addled and notoriously demanding of PC hardware of that time. Before Crysis, there was BZ2.
This version of BZ2 features heavily updated visuals, in particular very nice lighting effects. It's hard to tell looking at Rebellion's version that the game originally came out in 1999. It also features steam workshop support, much like the earlier Battlezone 98 Redux.
Gameplay in Battlezone is simple enough, though it would probably feel odd to today's shooter players. You are controlling a hovering tank with conventional FPS keymaps, with the added element of a simple strategic interface that use the number keys, the mouse and spacebar to select units and structures, and issue orders. If your tank is destroyed, you are not necessarily out of the battle- you automatically eject and can then float down and walk the rest of the way back to your base to obtain a fresh vessel. On foot you are armed with a feeble energy rifle that boasts an alternate sniper mode that can, with precise aim, be used to snipe an enemy pilot out of their vehicle, thus making it available to you.
The overall flow feels awkward to me now, but I suspect this system allowed for tight, high-level play in whatever multiplayer scene might have existed once. In addition, where you were limited to only ten units of each category at at time with a finite number of pilots as well, in 2 you can create up to ten groups of ten units each, with no pilot limit, allowing for much larger battles where individual losses are not quite as punishing. Still, it is not hard to see why action-strategy games never fully caught on- in my the experience the average shooter player cannot reasonably be expected to employ anything resembling a strategy.
I had an amusing experience playing this version where I accidentally discovered that you can freely fire-link different weapon types using the shift key, and now I'm not certain whether this feature was present in the original release. It certainly might have made my life easier back then.
I mentioned earlier that BZ2 is significantly easier then the first game. Part of this is the improved friendly unit AI and command interface, but another major factor is the change in how gathering biometal scrap works. The primary of the game's only two resources, the other being power. In the first game there was a finite amount of scrap on the map at the beginning of a level or match, with additional scrap only appearing from destroyed units or structures. In 2, there are biometal "pools" scattered throughout most maps that your scrap harvesters can deploy over, becoming immobile extractors that generate scrap automatically over time. This major change in the underlying economic mechanic of the game put off many players, but makes most campaign missions a matter of simply defending these extractors long enough to build up a sufficient attack force with which to bowl over the enemy base, with the enemy AI only throwing significant attack waves at you in the final few missions. Campaign missions in the first game were severely limited in terms of effective tactical solutions: If you didn't build or move certain things at or to certain locations and times, you were basically screwed, and this is largely not the case in 2 until very late in the campaign.
Though it was either streamlined or dumbed-down from the first game, depending on personal interpretation, Battlezone 2 maintained a key aspect of the experience- a combination of emphatic voice acting and written fragments of background information that that told an engrossing story of interstellar discovery, betrayal and intrigue, with a quality soundtrack as well.
Whatever the public perception of Battlezone 2 as compared to the first game or otherwise, I consider it a forgotten gem of the late 90s, with a brand of gameplay that has seldom been explored before or since, and I greatly appreciate both these games being made available to a wider audience.… Expand