There aren't many games out there that successfully make the transitions from the age of simplistic, wireframe, graphics. Generally speaking these games were based on incredibly basic gameplay paired up with equally basic graphics. It doesn't get any more bare bones than a game based entirely on green wires that form shapes. Battlezone is one of these titles that were once a very influential, fun to play quarter muncher. However the years have not been kind to it and this Xbox Live Arcade port isn't going to change anyone's opinions of the original game.
There is much to be said about how easily approachable Battlezone was back in the day. Using one controller to control each tread of your tank you would roll around the arena, shooting enemy tanks and blowing speeding missiles out of the air. It even had a cool little gimmick to it where you would be looking into the goggles of a periscope like device as your view screen. All of this gave you the feeling of piloting a small tank on the battlefield, blowing away every enemy who comes after you.
While this control mode is still possible on the 360, substituting the twin analog sticks for the joysticks much of the charm of the original has been lost. This leaves us to rely on the very simplistic gameplay to buoy the title and make it appeal to the masses of today.
Many of the problems begin as soon as you start playing the game whether you choose to play in the Classic Mode, a near perfect rendition of the arcade original, or Evolution Mode, an updated release that features brand new graphics that actually make the game look pretty damn good. However for some reason the developers saw fit to make the control scheme default to the one analog method, an easier to use but much less precise method of control. This makes it unreasonably hard to dodge incoming fire thus not simplifying the game at all. There's no real indication given anywhere of the two control stick method either, meaning that if someone gets the demo they might never know that there's a better way to play the game.
Barring this seriously bad oversight the core of the game doesn't really stand up to the test of time. Now there's nothing wrong with a simple game that has you shooting stuff to death but the problem comes in that the games difficulty is all over the place. Enemy tanks are easy to defeat since there's only ever one on the screen at once but the moment a guided missile comes out you're likely dead unless you've memorized how they move. Trying to figure this out grows to be a frustration that most gamers will not make it past.
But honestly one of this games biggest problems is that with five minutes of gameplay you've seen everything that there is to see. With the frustration that Classic Mode will likely bring down on gamers most will spend their time with Evolution Mode. However after you kill your first few tanks, take out a UFO and then deal with a few of the guided missiles you've seen just about all there is to the game with no reason to go back. With how difficult the achievements are these will certainly not be the sorts of things that draw people to the game either.
Even though the Evolution Mode has some fairly attractive graphics the art design for the title is pretty bland. There just isn't much to really watch here. Paired up with the ridiculously bland sound design the game just doesn't have anything to stand on. Everything is simply what it is, boring and not too exciting to watch or play.
One of the key things that the developers of Battlezone missed was that a game has to be a true classic for it to sell like hotcakes on XBLA. While it's a great game there's nothing really special about Battlezone, nothing that separated it from the other games just like it at the time. There were plenty of better, more interesting titles released around the same time as Battlezone and these are far more interesting titles than what we are given here.