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Game Review

The new age of video gaming is here: PlayStation Virtual Reality. And it only seemed right that the first game I jumped into would be the new VR rendition of Battlezone.

Way back in 1980, that popular Atari game was the first virtual reality title ever. Well, sort of. Sure, it's tough these days to give it that label since it was really only a big arcade box with a periscope-like viewer, a couple of joysticks and a lot of geometric lines tracing across a tiny screen. But it was the best the tech boys could do back then to make you feel like you were actually in a futuristic tank. In fact, the U.S. Army commissioned a special version of the game to train real-world gunners for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

In any case, it was one of my favs in my drop-a-quarter-at-the-arcade-and-make-it-last days. So I was eager to see what the new version could do better. The short answer is: everything!

Suit Up and Step In

Once you get all the VR system's wires and boxes plugged in, and fiddle the bulky headset into a semi-comfortable viewer/headphone tangle on your head (a less-than-fluid process that will surely be improved with future hardware generations), the rest is pretty much digital magic. Open your eyes, and you are smack dab in the colorful cockpit of a high-tech tank o' the future: 360 degrees of monitors, gizmos and radar screens that show you all the tech you need to march into a sci-fi field of battle.

The only thing missing in this virtual vista is your actual feet to push the appropriate pedals and hands to grip the navigation controls. But when you hoist the traditional Sony Dualshock controller (No Sony Wands needed with this one), you can see it in the virtual world, and the controls are instantly intuitive.

From there, it just a matter of launching your tank (with an initial choice of large, medium or small tanks outfitted accordingly with congruent firepower and speed) into the Battlezone virtual world's maps. The armor over your tank's windshield retracts to reveal an impressive arena full of buildings and towers. Oh, and a number of tanks, rocket towers, drones, armored vehicles, and the like, that you must take on and eliminate, of course.

A Clear Field of Battle

The campaign has you moving toward a level-ending goal, while you take on the progressively more difficult waves of enemies, defend convoys and/or bases and, well, blow a lot of stuff up. Gameplay is all about finding the right cover, watching your radar screens for enemy movement and using your different weapons to best effect. And as you progress through the single-player campaign (or online with up to four other players in co-op) you can use earned currency to buy extra lives and tank upgrades.

As far as weapons are concerned, you've got small cannons, machines guns, missile launchers and the like to toggle between, depending on the size of tank you choose. I've read some people complain about how the VR system doesn't really communicate the right sort of visceral impact that, say, a 120MM gun might deliver if it were mounted just over your head. And that's true. But I'd have to say that that kind of shock-and-awe realism would likely get a bit fatiguing after a while, so I didn't mind the lessened weapon recoil effect a bit.

I also appreciated the lessened level of destruction when it comes to the game's rock-'em sock-'em action. Like the Battlezone of yesteryear, there are no blood and guts or screaming enemies in this version. In fact, there aren't any flesh-and-blood foes in view at all, other than those presumably manning the projectile-launching vehicles you'll face. Defeated tanks and drones simply blow up and crumble into collectable bits and pieces.

The only real drawback of note here, however, was the stomach-roiling vertigo sensation I sometimes experienced when looking around quickly for strafing drones. But, who knows, that may have just been me and my particular inner-ear workings. So I won't hold that against Battlezone. After all, what's a little virtual nausea between nostalgic battle buds?

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

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Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

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Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

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