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Battlezone - The Atari Times

Battlezone


The military doesn't want you to read this...
by Darryl Brundage

December 4, 2003
So, should it be Future Tank, Moon Tank or Battlezone, what should Atari's new game be called? Hey, who cares, it's all good.

Yep, those were the original names for this classic warfare game, but the origins (and possibly even myth) behind what would become Battlezone go even deeper than that.

You see, a certain Battlezone legend says that the military contacted Atari in order for them to create a simulator that their soldiers could train on, which a version was supposedly made, which the military would later deny; oh no! We can't have our soldiers play VIDEO GAMES! Well, that seems a lot less embarrassing than the overspending of $400 for a hammer in the Pentagon -- although I SUPPOSE those were just rumors too? -- the military doesn't do things like this, no siree!

Anyhow, whether true or not, this 3-D shooter gave you a first person perspective of being inside a tank (you're never shown on the actual screen) amidst a futuristic battlefield (hence the original name of Future Tank) consisting of a bunch of obstacles that can stop enemy firepower. (Hey, where can I buy whatever that protectant is so I can shield my car from bird poop?)

Oh yes, the enemy: you're not alone. Tanks will appear one at a time and you only have a few seconds to move and line up a shot at them; miss, and you'd better be either quick to dodge their incoming shots or you'd better duck behind an obstacle really fast. U.F.O.s will also appear after a while, but they're no threat, they're just high-scoring bonuses. Missiles, unfortunately, are really fast and make a very quick beeline for you, and, as you can imagine, since you're in command of a tank, you don't have a turbo overdrive button or anything; great. And last to appear as you progress through the game are super tanks, which move and shoot faster than the regular ones.

Helping you out, at least, is a radar scope, which shows the positions of all enemies except for that elusive flying saucer. (No wonder our government denies there are U.F.O.s out there; where's Mulder and Scully from The X-Files when you need them?)

This is very fun and can be a bit of a heart-pounder, although the controls, even though they respond really well, take a bit of getting used to, since you have two joysticks, one for each tank tread, so you're going to have to learn how to move your tank around properly in order to survive. I couldn't understand the controls at all the first time I played this, but I got used to them fairly quick.

The vector graphics and sounds were also great, and topping everything off by having a visor that you looked through really made you feel like you were in the game, except for not having some loud-mouthed sergeant barking out orders all the time. Hey, don't blame ME if you were the one who was toilet-trained too early as a child, or whatever an overpaid shrink can point the finger of blame on.

Unfortunately, Battlezone didn't make it much past the arcades afterwards (even though it was a big hit), since only a home-released version of it was released for the Atari 2600, and a version of this would later be attempted for the Atari 5200, but it was never completed. However, Activision came out with the somewhat similar Robot Tank, and later Atari also came out with T-Mek in the arcades, which really ramped up the game in terms of speed. [Don't forget about the PC version of Battlezone! -Ed.]

Also, nowadays on the net, if you go to www.pogo.com and look for Tank Hunter, you'll find that this very excellent, independently-made game took the Battlezone gameplay to new heights, including several power-ups, specific mission objectives to accomplish, and at least 20 levels (I can't say for sure how many there are, since that's the highest I've gotten to, there may be more).

All from a game that the military says they didn't train their soldiers on. Well, guess what? I've got the volume 1, issue 1 of Atari Age mag (note: this was the original Atari fan club), and not only does a brief article tell of how Atari WAS contracted by the military to produce the machine that doesn't exist, it even shows a screen mock-up of the game!

So bah ha ha ha on you, you silly military; busted! I mean, who even CARES that--

(the door slams open) Hey! (military personnel rush in) What're you people...ack!! alkdj;faljsd lkeejiejf;alkj; SEND HELP!! LK;A;diafjiekmdc

ATTENTION ATARI TIMES REVIEW READERS! THIS IS SERGEANT KILLACOMMIE OF THE UNITED STATES ARMY! DARRYL BRUNDAGE DOES NOT, NOR HAS EVER, EXISTED. YOU HAVE SEEN NOTHING, PLEASE NOW GO TO THE JAGUAR OR LYNX REVIEW SECTIONS, YOUR COOPERATION IS APPRECIATED! THAT IS ALL!
...

END OF LINE

Ah, 3D in all it's monochrome glory!
It's kill...
...or be killed.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Bradley trainer.
Battlezone
System: Arcade
Publisher: Atari
Genre: Shooter
Graphics Score: 90%
Sound & Music Score: 95%
Gameplay Score: 95%
Control Score: 93%

Final Score: 90%



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