Saturday, October 15, 2005

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Building upon the success of Asteroids, Atari took vector graphics to an entirely new level with Battlezone, a highly realistic first-person military simulation that made players feel like they were really in control of a futuristic tank. In fact, the engine used in Battlezone was adapted by the United States Army, and used to train Bradley fighting-vehicle gunners, who often complain that real-life battles aren't nearly as much fun as their arcade counterparts.

Gameplay: Drop in a quarter, press your face up against the same greasy plastic viewport as everyone else in the arcade, and get ready for battle! Your controllers are remarkably intuitive; push both of them forward, and you'll go forward. Likewise for reverse. If you can handle that, you shouldn't have any trouble figuring out left and right, and you're ready for the real fun! Push one forward and pull the other one back, and you can do tank donuts to impress your friends.

But don't get too crazy with the driving. There are enemy tanks out there, hiding among the pyramids and cubes, and they want to blow you away. Your radar will let you know the location of the nearest one, so you can point your tank at it and fire. Yeah, that's right, due to a minor design flaw, your tank doesn't have a turret, and can only shoot in the direction you're facing. Sorry about that. The Pentagon is spending money on something called "Star Wars," which should have its own vector-based simulation around 1983.
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