Tanked Up: Bionites And Battlezones

In the first of what certainly won’t be a regular innuendo-strewn column entitled Dan’s Hot Tip, I bring news directly from the Twitter feed of handsomely bearded journo Dan Griliopoulos. Jason Kingsley of Rebellion, the home of Sniper Elite and 2000 AD, discusses the UK developer’s plans for Battlezone. [We] “bought the IP at auction from Atari last year. Have some exciting plans for it and lots of ideas”. The purchase was made last summer and Rebellion picked up Moonbase Commander rights at the same time. The real news though – the part that you can actually touch – is the release of Bionite’s alpha.

Two years after being successfully funded through Kickstarter, Bionite: Origins has an alpha. It was released at the beginning of the month but I completely missed it because my attention span isn’t two years long. Bionite had actually been in development for two years when the Kickstarter began in 2012 so the alpha represents four years of work.

That thing I said about being able to ‘touch’ the alpha might not be entirely accurate though. The website that the Kickstarter page links to appears to have lapsed and reverted to placeholder text and updates have been coming through Facebook more ofen than the Kickstarter page. The Facebook page for the project also appears to have vanished sometime in the last few months, although the creator’s own page is still available and linked on the Kickstarter page.

It was only by going to that second Facebook profile that I found the new website for the game, which is written in the header photo. Of the move, Platoon say:

With careful consideration we have decided to move the site one last time to this URL so that all of our assets are in one place. sorry for any inconvenience this may create for you.

Presumably backers received notification of the move but since the game is still available to buy ($5), it’d seem helpful to allow people to reach its page without following a trail through abandoned websites.

In short – Bionite has a hard to find alpha, two years after funding and Rebellion may or may not announce something Battlezone-related in the near future. Here’s hoping that when they do show some of those ideas, they’ll be worth the wait.

In the meantime, TANKS.

31 Comments

  1. TrueSpite says:

    “OMG OMG OMG”
    -Secret Battlezone Loyalist Armada

  2. Tiberius says:

    I remember playing the 1998 Battlezone FPS-RTS. It was incredibly sloppy title riddled with bugs, but I really enjoyed it. This article sent me on a nostalgia trip.

    • DanMan says:

      Yeah, I liked it a lot, too. Not many games like that exist at all. It would be great to have a worthy, modern successor.

    • Hanban says:

      I really, really loved that game. My favourite thing was probably sniping tanks and stealing them.

    • SomeDuder says:

      Bugs? I really can’t remember any of that. It was a really fun game, and I even dabbled with the multiplayer. Sniping other people was great fun and one of the few things I remember well.

      The single-player campaign was really tight, with only the arrival of the Furies being a bit messy – I liked the Cold War stuff much better.

      I’ve got mixed feelings about the sequel (BZ 2), which did away entirely with the Cold War setting. Although it had much more vehicles and building and was graphically very pleasing, it just lacked something.

    • Stardreamer says:

      Sloppy? How very dare you!

      I loved Battlezone so much, not least for the fact the opening levels were the closest representations you could get of being on the actual moon. The art team worked wonders with the level texturing.

    • SAM-site says:

      Battlezone changed my life. The clan and competitive side of the game propelled me into my career.

  3. Simbosan says:

    I remember loving the Activision remake for PC, splendid game. Wonder if it’s still around…

    *wavy lines as time passes*

    Just downloaded it from battlezone1 dot com and it runs fine on Win8 1920×1080.

    Be back in a few days!

    • wwwhhattt says:

      I lost my disk of that years ago and could never remember it’s name. Thanks Simbosan & RPS!

    • Taidan says:

      Amazing find. I still have my big-box original copies of Battlezone 1 & 2, fully intact, but could never track down the mission disk for the first game.

      Many thank!

    • NathanMates says:

      Arrr! There be piracy at that site. Nobody has authorized either the 1998 or 1999 Activision-published Battlezone 1/2 titles for public release. If you want a legal copy, go upvote Battlezone 1/2 at gog.com.

      Disclaimer: I’m still patching Battlezone II in my spare time. Ken Miller, who also patches Battlezone 1, has also contributed to BZ2 patches Patches are available at link to matesfamily.org — see the forum link to link to bzforum.matesfamily.org for BZ1 patches — but that REQUIRES that you have it already. I’m going to behave honorably even if others won’t.

      • Dominare says:

        Then I’ll take this opportunity to say thank you. My friends and I still play BZ2 sometimes, due almost entirely to the work you’ve done. You rule.

      • Simbosan says:

        Well I hope not but I have a very strong feeling that BZ1 was released freeware. One sec…

        *more wavy lines*

        This looks legit to me at least at first glance. Are you sure this is a naughty link?

        link to mwomercs.com

        • NathanMates says:

          Ken’s work on BZ1 patches (the 1.5 series) is legit, as it is just a patch. The site offering the entire download of BZ1 is not legit.

          Activision’s other titles from that era, like Dark Reign 1 & 2, Interstate ’76, ’82, etc are at gog.com. That’s legit downloads, done by people who have chased down the legal rights. Some shady corner handing out downloads — which are NOT the proper full BZ1 release; it has a servers.dat file write-protected so that you only play with players that releaser approves of — is not legit.

          • Simbosan says:

            Fair enough but that’s not to say that battlezone1.org is a bunch of dirty pirates, Ken worked closely with this community of modders and fans and this website was an important part of his patch work, as he credits.

            Fair enough it might be on the borderline of abandonware (yes I know the legal status of abandonware), but it’s no secret, its a genuine community of dedicated fans and Activision aren’t doing anything about it. I wouldn’t bust a gut myself.

            Seeing as once upon a time I owned the game, I shall consider it my right to use this patch, and if Activision want people to stop pirating a totally functional game, make it available for sale.

      • Diziet Sma says:

        I hope this works, here are the links for voting on GoG:

        Vote for Battlezone on GoG
        Vote for Battlezone 2 on GoG

        • WiggumEsquilax says:

          EVERYONE VOTE. Please and thank you.

          Even if you don’t care about Battlezone, I, and others, want our legit copies.

          • Premium User Badge

            Phasma Felis says:

            Enh. I prefer to pay for my games, but if the rights-holder doesn’t want my money, I see no moral obligation to inconvenience myself trying to force it on them.

        • Simbosan says:

          voted!

  4. c-Row says:

    Battlezone, Uprising, Urban Assault (yes, even that one)… that sub genre deserves a revival.

    • Bugamn says:

      Is Hostile Waters like those games? All I know about them is that they join RTS with direct control of units.

      • Darloth says:

        There’s a lot less (almost no) base building in Hostile Waters – all of the others have a fair bit.

        That said, a) Hostile Waters was amazing, and b) the genre is so thin on the ground that I don’t think we should be excluding things :)

        Which reminds me that in theory I own Carrier Command: Gaea Mission, and I should try and play it.

  5. KwisatzHaderach says:

    Great news! I didn’t know they were still working on Bionite! Stumbled across it maybe a year ago while doing some research for games similar to Battlezone (from the late 90’s) and never heard of it since. Battlezone was one of the most underappreciated games of its time. The gameplay is still fresh and slick today. Time to reinstall I guess…

  6. BLACKOUT-MK2 says:

    Will I be able to make my enemy’s testicles explode?

  7. Premium User Badge

    DelrueOfDetroit says:

    What is Bionite? I don’t feel like digging around their terrible website with 20 screenshots of the same what-the-hell-is-this?

    • Philopoemen says:

      From the Steam Greenlight plug (because I too had no idea):
      “Bionite: Origins is a work in progress to feature hover tanks in FPS/RTS game modes. In Bionite: Origins you get to pilot hover tanks in a variety of different game play types. Standard death match has you pitted against other players in head to head dogfights pitting pure skill to pure skill. RTS(Real Time Shooter) death match, coming soon, incorporates base building to the death match. The last part to be added will be a full on campaign mode that gives you all the RTS death match game play in full story mode. “

  8. Shadowcat says:

    Moonbase Commander! Yay!

  9. arcanise says:

    greetings everyone, I am Andrew “panda” the production manager for platoon studios, after seeing this article we went full steam ahead and corrected our short falls, the site now has an about section with clear description to the game, and we are fixing the kickstarter information, apologize for the confusion we will work on it for the future