Battlezone 2: Combat Commander’s HD revamp launches

Battlezone: Combat Commander

Some may grumble about the recent glut of HD updates and remasters that have been bulking out release schedules the past few years, but when it means that a new generation can experience joys like 1999’s RTS/tank-combat hybrid Battlezone 2: Combat Commander, then I’m all for it.

Following up from the slightly wonky re-release that was Battlezone 98 Redux, Big Boat Interactive (under Rebellion’s publishing banner) have poured a lot more time and effort into the sequel’s enhancement, which launched via both Steam and GOG today.

Were it not for some dated looking particle effects and slightly over-compressed audio hiding behind the reasonable pretense of radio distortion, Battlezone: Combat Commander (for some reason, they dropped the 2 from this release’s name) could pass for a decently pretty-looking modern indie title, though some of the original game’s quirks remain, such as aiming and shooting on foot having a heavy, semi-vehicular feel to it.

Under the gloss and polish lies the exact same game that I played and loved all those years ago, and have occasionally dusted off every couple years to see just what the fan-patching and modding community have been doing with it. While a little clunky in places, Battlezone 2’s first-person command interface still holds up well, largely, and the hovertank combat feels weighty and satisfying still. Multiplayer and all its modes are present and correct (even supporting LAN play and cross-play between Steam and GOG owners), and the branching single-player campaign is fully intact.

From the I’ve played of this enhanced edition, it feels like a significant improvement, and seems very scaleable. I’ve admittedly got a fairly beefy GPU (A laptop Geforce 1070) but I’m able to consistently run this at 1080p, maximum settings at a locked 100fps (my monitor’s limit). Hardly surprising, but nice anyway. Visually speaking I would have liked the view distance extended, with fog effects purely cosmetic, but it would admittedly throw a spanner into the works in some scenarios; just climb the nearest hill, spot the enemy base and go from there.

So far the only technical issue I’ve encountered is a brief stutter when playing any sound for the first time on a mission that seems greatly reduced if I move the game over to my SSD. A caching issue, then, and perhaps later patches can pre-cache the audio to reduce this problem. Ironic, considering that the audio seems untouched since 1999.

Battlezone: Combat Commander may be closing in on two decades old, but it’s as compelling a game now as it was back in the day, and we’re still waiting to see what the old modding crew can do with this polished-up version of the engine. If they’ve managed to lift some of the old limits holding back development, there might yet be a bright future for this one.

Battlezone: Combat Commander is out now for Steam and GOG for £13.49/$18, a ten percent discount off its RRP.


  1. mike arkin says:

    Hi, thanks for the review. I’ll look into the sound issue. I don’t see that here, so it might be specific to your hardware.

    FYI, the company is called Big Boat Interactive.

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      Oops, brain-fart corrected. I got the name right on every other BZ2 piece I’ve done, so I’m not sure how it came out wrong here.

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    Drib says:

    I remember this game from when I was a kid.

    I’ll definitely have to get it, just because of that. That’s how these remasters get you.

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    The Almighty Moo says:

    Hi Dominic. Thanks for your impressions. Any chance you could give a very lightweight overview of the new co op multi mode? Tempted to pick this up for the chance to hover some tanks with friends.

    • Siimon says:

      This has co-op? I loved the original 1998 Battlezone co-op! But, its been 20 years, and even with the “Redux” it hadn’t aged well… Hopefully BZ:CC feels slightly less clunky :)

  4. DanMan says:

    I hated what the sequel did to the controls compared to the first game. I guess I could check this out, see how it plays now. I abandoned the sequel after just a handful of hours back then. It was that bad to me.

    • Dave L. says:

      I always disliked the biometal wells and infinite pilots in BZII.

      Having finite resources on every map in the original added a lot to the strategy, especially since the biometal from a destroyed ship was always slightly less than it took to build it. Every tank you lost hurt. Especially if the pilot also got killed. It wasn’t unusual for me to end up alone and desperately sniping Russian pilots out of their tanks to slowly whittle down the enemy forces until I could eliminate their base unopposed.

  5. AceJohnny says:

    I’m going to give this a try, if only for nostalgia’s sake.

    My recollection of it was that I liked the single player campaign, but just couldn’t get the hang of multiplayer/skirmish. I was constantly running back and forth between managing the base (which is clunky, from a vehicle), and rushing to the frontline to help in the battle because the AI-controlled vehicles were $%&$ morons (pardon my french). I mean, to this day I remember the frustration that without my direct intervention, any squads I would send out to fight might as well be cast into the void, for what effect they had. This was unlike any other RTS.

    I didn’t play any fan-patches though. Maybe those fixed things?

    • AMC4x4 says:

      Sorry, no. The AI is still not great. You’ll lose healers in the water because they can’t seem to navigate around it (although they do seem to auto-heal nearby units better, but it could be my imagination). You’ll be jumping from the base to the front lines, just like usual. It’s a little easier hopping in a relay or antenna and commanding just about everything from above once you get things going. Still, it’s a really good update. It’s on sale now, cheap as games go, and the graphic updates are fantastic. Can’t wait to play the main mission again.

  6. TotallyUseless says:

    How’s the mouse acceleration on the game? The first remake had pretty horrible mouse acceleration I had to refund it. :(

  7. revan says:

    My mom absolutely loved that beeping sound when I played this back in 1999. Need to invite her over after I buy this. :)

  8. DoomBroom says:

    Now THIS is the Battlezone I want in VR! Any chance we’ll get this?

  9. Megatron says:

    This looks incredible now. What an update!

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