One of the biggest trends in gaming now isn't making new games – it's updating old ones. You've probably noticed it, but if you haven't, it's become more problematic than Hollywood making reboots. The latest video game for this to happen to is the Battlezone series, more specifically Battlezone II, the venerable 90's game about Americans and Russians teaming up to beat aliens. It was more remastered more than anything: so how did Battlezone: Combat Commander do?
Like Battlezone II, the story is that Americans and Russians team up to beat aliens who invaded. But in doing so we also get access to alien technology, and when a few bad apples get access to it. You're Lt. John Cooke, and guess what your job is? If you said defeat them then....partial credit! Yeah, it follows the same plot as The Rock sort of, but also has that “A needs to beat B, then C comes along, so A and B team up, but then a part of A goes rogue, so the rest of A and B need to”...ok, maybe it's not the most simple plot, but it feels familiar.
Usually from controls I'll say “Yeah, they were fine”, but here, I had real problems with. Controlling itself actually proved to be a pain. Flying the spaceship was way more difficult than I thought – I looked up problems of the original back in the late 90's, and apparently the hard time controlling the ship hasn't changed. Aiming too – it takes forever to get a bead, and when you do, often it's too late.. I mean, using a keyboard is fine, but when these are the results, it's not great. They didn't seem to update this at all.
Graphics are ….off. Many times, you can tell what they remastered, because some great looking graphics come on. The characters and crafts? Looks modern. But things like planets and cinematics? They didn't change. They aren't the first game to do this – update some, and not update others – but it was really disappointing to see such a stark contrast. It reminded me of people making modern mods for older games – it looks so out of place.
Luckily game play isn't all that bad. Besides for those bad lag issues I mentioned before, it's the same FPS/tank shooter as last time. Besides the setting it's pretty paint-by-numbers, even with the updates, but it gets the job done.
Sound has had nothing changed since the original. I actually listened to audio from the original, and they just kept it. They didn't even remaster it or improve it anyway. It still sounds OK, but it hasn't aged well. Music is basic space/action score, with quiet moments. I don't know how else to explain it. Just think of that music you hear in space games during a worrisome moment and you pretty much have it. Besides things like controls being laggy as hell I didn't see much else in the way of problems. The frame rate was just fine. And there wasn't much in the way of bugs – there were many clipping problems I noticed, but that had to do more with the age difference between graphics types.
Overall, Battlezone: Combat Commander was a bit of a disappointing remaster. They only updated a few things, put in multiplayer and called it a day. Granted, what they did change is pretty impressive, but it feels like it was only partially restored, like seeing a new paint job on an old car with it's original motor. It looks good, but running is another story.
Final Score: 6 out of 10
A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of review.