Battlezone: Combat Commander (PC) Review

By Eric Ace 03.03.2018

Review for Battlezone: Combat Commander on PC

Battlezone was first released in 1999 in an interesting mix of FPS and RTS strategy. In it, the player pilots a variety of futuristic vehicles across space, mostly on the outskirts of Pluto, while also building a base to expand and take out the enemy. The game is unique in that it is mostly a 'tank shooter' as the piloting is in general far more important than the strategic aspects of the actual game. The feel of the whole experience is unique under modern standards, but the pacing might turn a few off.

Battlezone: Combat Commander is a massive re-release and update of a game that first came out in 1999 by Pandemic Studios and Activision, meaning this is nothing new from the original in terms of content. However, graphically it has been completely overhauled, AI has been fixed, and a host of issues across the board have been improved.

Taking place in the outer parts of the solar system (and the game was originally made when Pluto was still a planet…), the player takes the role of a new military officer sent in to investigate a space outpost that was overrun by alien forces. The first few levels are entirely tutorial in nature, and while the pacing can be slow, the atmosphere is a pretty good setup.

Screenshot for Battlezone: Combat Commander on PC

Inserted by a drop ship, the first mission is spent driving around the lifeless planet with the huge starry sky above. A few brief encounters with an unknown enemy set a good tone of mystery for the whole affair. Atmosphere-wise, it helps pull people into the story fairly well.

The negative of this, though, is a majority of early missions are very slow, punctuated by periods of very quick combat. Very often it is simply driving around the empty planets, and while cool at first, it starts to become boring. In-between waiting for waves of enemies, there is not much to do. It definitely feels like a '90s title in this regard, compared to modern gameplay, which seems hyperactive by comparison.

Screenshot for Battlezone: Combat Commander on PC

The actual combat works, but there is not much depth to it. In general, players will be piloting hovercraft or walkers and doing battle with various alien forces. The combat is basically a simple FPS affair, such as Goldeneye. The weapons range from shotguns, lasers, mini-guns, mortars and so on; there is a variety in them, but only a few are actually good. Furthermore, the controls work, but barely; very often combat is simple strafing while firing at the enemy.

One of the major annoyances in that combat is very 'bursty' in that an encounter often ends with either very little damage or outright destruction. The way the graphics work when shooting and taking hits, the explosions block nearly the whole screen, which makes it hard to continue firing, and certain enemies can do tremendous damage in a very short period of time. In other encounters, the enemies seem to not have their aiming correct and you can pound mercilessly. The missions typically are only 20-30 minutes, but it is very frustrating losing near the end because of the fast damage from a random enemy.

Screenshot for Battlezone: Combat Commander on PC

Strategy-wise, it is pretty barebones. The player has a base they set up, then various remote mining locations they can set up. From there, they can build various units, like fast scouts, or heavier tanks. The remote locations of mining bring a fun dynamic of wanting more of them, but having a hard time defending them.

The mix of aspects is novel (relatively, given its 20 year age) but neither of them particularly shine. They are just average across the board. The strategy never gets that intense, and the shooting is just average. Still, though, the game is mostly carried by its narrative of trying to understand what is happening with the political intrigue and unknown alien force.

Screenshot for Battlezone: Combat Commander on PC

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

The story is interesting and giving the FPS nature of Battlezone: Combat Commander, it feels much more 'personal' given the unique hybrid aspect of the game. The strategy elements and the FPS parts do not stack up to modern conventions, but are sufficient enough to work. The real appeal is the fact that this is a hybrid of two very different genres and, while not perfect, considering its 20 year age, it is worth checking out of if this mixture sounds appealing, as the story is indeed fun to experience.

Developer

Big Boat

Publisher

Rebellion

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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