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Steam Next Fest: Nuke Zone is a beautiful riff on Battlezone

Tron and on.

Years ago there was a lovely rumour going around about Battlezone, the vector-based tank-'em-up that brought a fragile futuristic beauty to arcades everywhere. The rumour was pretty simple: see that volcano in the distance? You can go inside it. And then drive around and stuff. Honest.

Not honest, obviously. But the Battlezone rumour made total sense because this straight-ahead world of digital tanks and digital warfare was so bewitching in its sparseness, so fiercely writable. You saw the volcano and you wanted to believe you could get inside it. And then drive around! And stuff!

Don't say and stuff. Anyway, Nuke Zone is here as part of Steam's Next Fest demo event. It's a tank game by Blue Wizard Digital, a company that has plenty of lovely Popcap DNA in it. And it's taking the vector disco aesthetic of Battlezone and the idea of digital tanks that rip into other digital tanks. And maybe it will bring a certain rumour back to life - in a new way.

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The demo feels lovely. You wander out into cyberspace with a laser on one mouse button and an EMP burst on the other. Enemies attack, both hovering around you and in turret form. It's all about strafing and then attacking, attacking and then managing weapon cooldowns. Enemies explode into lovely collectable doodads, and there's a simple pleasure to the game's environments. Palm trees! Tunnels! Mountains! You want to move ahead to see what's awaiting you.

The full game promises levelling up and tweaking loadouts and mods and all of that stuff. But the demo has pleasures of its own. After a few minutes I emerged from a tunnel onto a wide plane with a magical emerald vector city rising in the distance. Man, I want to get to that city more than I ever wanted to get into that volcano. Will I be able to? Only time, and Nuke Zone, will tell. Give this one a spin.

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