The original Battlezone was amongst the first wave of action-strategy hybrids, but despite getting rave reviews its sales were disappointing.
And then it entered the magical world of OEM sales. The game was bundled with almost every graphics and sound card known to man, and around a million people now own a copy of the game.
And so it came to pass that the game's developers formed their own studio and signed a lucrative publishing deal with Activision to develop .. a sequel!
The most obvious improvement is in the graphics. Worlds are far more detailed and life like than the rather flat and barren moons of the original game, and the visuals are truly mouth watering. Weapons effects are gloriously over the top, water ripples and reflects, rain and snow fall, clouds skip across the sky, and everything is bright and colourful.
Unfortunately all this eye candy comes at a cost. There's a reason why Intel are using this game to demo their Pentium III processors - if you want to make the most of Battlezone II you're going to need a high spec machine. You'll also need a 3D graphics card to play the game at all, but then you all have one anyway .. right?
Luckily there are plenty of graphics options in the menu, so even on older machines you'll be able to play the game comfortably, though you may have to put up with 16 bit colour and lower detail settings.
Bigger, Better, Twice As Hard
All that beauty isn't just skin deep though. The gameplay has also had a big upgrade, with new vehicles and weapons to use, a more refined strategy element, and a whole new alien race.
The aliens are fused with the bio-metal that the Americans and Soviets were fighting over in Battlezone, and have a very organic feel. There's a reason for that, and as the plot thickens you'll find out there's more to the aliens and their motivation than your superiors are telling you.
In fact the game actually has two endings - you can decide to switch sides towards the end of the game, giving you a chance to play from the alien viewpoint. This gives you a whole new perspective, as the alien units and buildings are very different from the human forces.
The AI should prove more challenging this time round as well, able to take full advantage of its units and their strengths and weaknesses. There are also a range of difficulty levels to choose from, so even weiners like me can still win the game.
With beautiful graphics, great gameplay, and a strong storyline, Battlezone II looks like it should be a real winner. Let's just hope that this time somebody actually buys the damn thing...
Download The Demo
Unfortunately it only includes one human mission that has no base building in it, but it still looks great and gives you a feel for the action side of the game.