Not every PC classic is deserving of a full remaster/remake/spit-and-polish treatment, but I reckon that 1999’s RTS/FPS hybrid Battlezone 2: Combat Commander has more than earned its place on Rebellion’s list of games to update to modern spec, and Big Boat Interactive’s update looks to be doing the game justice.
Along with announcing a release date – March 1st, just one month off – Rebellion have released a new trailer comparing the game as it looked back in the day to how it looks now, given the blessings of a modern renderer, sharper textures, smoother models and an upgrade to 4K resolutions.
Personally, I’m overjoyed at just about every change they’ve made. The art style of the game is fully retained while all the rough edges have been smoothed down, and the textures brought into sharp focus. Some of the vehicle designs have been subtly changed, but in all the cases I see in the trailer, I feel it’s for the better, emphasizing the sleek, curved lines of the human vehicles, and the pointed, sharp edges on the alien Scion craft.
My only concern with the game now is that performance might be a little temperamental. Bolting a modern-day renderer onto a pre-2000s engine isn’t the easiest of tasks, and I can’t help but notice some distinct framerate drops during the trailer. Beyond that? Everything looks as it should, with the hover-vehicles still being satisfyingly swooshy, and the explosions look significantly improved.
For those who never played Battlezone 2 back in the day, you’re in for a treat. While not nearly as well known as similarly enduring games such as Doom and Quake, Battlezone 2 retained a remarkably active mod & multiplayer scene well into the 2010s, and I hope that some of the better fan-made campaigns can be ported over to the new version of the game without too much hassle.
Even without mods, you get a solid and lengthy single-player campaign with a game-changing branch point about a third of the way through, so replay value is decent. Then you’ve got skirmish play against AI and multiplayer. Rebellion are boasting that the redux version of the game has both traditional LAN play and modern online support, so we’ll hopefully be getting the best of both worlds.
Battlezone 2 was a game I sank a lot of time into back in the day, and something I kept coming back to for years after, just to see what the community had cooked up. After seeing this trailer, I’m eager to get back in the cockpit.