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Battlezone II

Score: 70%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Pandemic Studios
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 8
Genre: Action/ Strategy/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

The graphics engine in Battlezone II is definitely the highlight of the game. The different worlds that you do battle on are rendered gorgeously, and the first time you land on Pluto, you have the overwhelming sense of awe at the crystalline beauty of the planet. Sure, itís not realistic, but damn, does it look good. The ship models are quite detailed, with more than enough polygons to let you differentiate. I had clipping issues with some of the ships, but overall the engine was very tight.

The voice acting is uniformly excellent, even though Cook sometimes seems a bit too monotone for someone on a mission to save the solar system. The sound effects are serviceable, with appropriate booms and pings and whatnot.


Gameplay:

Unfortunately, Battlezone II is plagued by gameplay issues that the superb first one didnít have, and it is a poorer game because of it. Gone is the crazy Cold-War-gone-wrong plot of the first. Instead, you fight... aliens. Whee. My heart dropped when I saw this, because part of the charm of the first Battlezone was the quirky setting. Ah, well, I thought. Perhaps the game would redeem itself in gameplay.

Unfortunately, it doesnít. The single player mode is scripted like a bad rendition of a Shakespearean tragedy. You have to do things -exactly- like the designers want you to do in the missions or you canít proceed. Sometimes the things you have to do are so counterintuitive as to make the game almost unplayable without having to consult a strategy guide or the Battlezone II website.

The multiplayer is good... if youíre playing on a LAN. Anything less plays extraordinarily poorly. Thereís an unofficial patch out that fixes a good deal of that, but nonetheless, having broken multiplayer out of the box is pretty bad.

And the gameplay itself sometimes makes almost no sense. For example, Iím in a looming tank, and somebody starts shooting at me. Whatís the most efficient way to kill them? Well, it seems that in the world of Battlezone II, tanks are as maneuverable as any other vehicle, so I zoom around the enemy and shoot them from behind. Eh? The ability to hop out of your ship and shoot people on foot is good fun, mainly because the computer A.I. has serious issues with capping you while youíre on foot. I sprinted all the way across the map (well, slowly glided is more like it) and got hit once. I then hopped in a ship and got blown up almost immediately. Whee! I just like capping the enemy pilots after they eject from their ships. Heh.

And then there are the crashes, which occur at random and halfway through missions. Now, donít get me wrong. I actually find the game rather fun, despite myself. Its blend of RTS and action really appeals to me, and once you have a comm tower, you can play the game like a 3D Total Annihilation, which is really cool. But it has some serious flaws that keep it from being a stellar game.


Difficulty:

The game itself isnít all that terribly difficult. Figuring out what the designers wanted you to do to complete the mission, however, can be a game in itself.

Game Mechanics:

The controls for the various vehicles are extremely intuitive, and ordering around units is very simple. This, at least, works fine. If it werenít for the single-player ďdo this or dieĒ mentality and the bad multiplayer out of the box, Battlezone II would be a worthy successor to the first, despite the loss of the great plot points. Pushing back alien invasions just isnít as interesting as weird Cold War stuff. But Battlezone II instead stays in the realm of ďneat, but probably not worth buying.Ē Definitely try it at a friendís house before you shell out the dough.

-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Minimum System Requirements:



3D card, Win95/98, 200 MHz Pentium, 64 MB RAM, 500 MB HD Space, 4X CD-ROM, Sound Card
 

Test System:



K6-III 450, 256MB RAM, ATI Rage IIc, SB Live!

Windows Bang! Gunship Elite Windows Beyond Atlantis

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated