#11 Battlezone

Posted: 24th May 2014 by Jeroen in Games

335th played so far

BattlezoneArcadeFlyerGenre: Shoot ‘Em Up
Platform: Arcade
Year of Release: 1980
Developer: Atari
Publisher: Atari

In our attempts to also get through the list more or less in order, Battle Zone comes next – and with it a jump to the next decade. From now on, the seventies are (more or less) finished. The eighties are kicked off – almost like the seventies – with an Atari arcade game. This time we’re going for a first person shooter.

Our Thoughts

Probably the most impressive part of the game is its early use of a first person perspective. It’s incredibly simple, with asteroids-style line drawings that allow you to see through the ‘trees’, but it’s impressive all the same. The numbers and perspective all work out, with your opponents gradually increasing in size – more fluently than games did afterwards for several years.

The reason that this game looks like it is years ahead of its time (since we are only talking about a year difference between this and Asteroids) is because it uses a different form of graphics. This is a very early attempt to create a three dimensional environment, something achieved through the use of wire frame models. This when coupled with the first-person perspective would make this a prototype for every first-person shooter that was to follow (seeing how you are viewing the entire game as if through the eyes of the shooter).

In terms of gameplay there is not much extra to highlight over games we have previously played from this era. It is another situation of ‘shoot or be shot at’ but this time you have a (rather poor) turning circle and enemies can spawn anywhere around you which (possibly) makes this game the first major instance of things happening outside of your eye line and having to be cautious enough to watch your back. A huge turning point in gaming if you think about it. What makes this complicated is that you control the two tank threads seperately, accelerating on one or both at ones. Figuring it out took a moment – how to use it a bit longer as you need to figure out how create the best turning circle and move faster.

Now this is by no means a 3D game. It is one of those game that give the illusion of  3D and acts more like a treadmill with you staying in one place and the world around you coming into view. One of the more famous views of this game is the erupting volcano in the distance. There was a long standing rumour that there was a secret to be found if you somehow fight your way towards the volcano, roll up it and venture into the caldera… sadly this is not the case.

Final Thoughts

Battlezone has been ported to numerous platforms and has also had a few remakes. Its influence on current gaming is huge since, chronologically, it is unlike any game that I have played from the years before.