Battlezone

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Battlezone Game Poster Image
Fast-paced VR tank combat doesn't have lots of depth.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Centered on stylized sci-fi violence, but promotes strategy, teamwork.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Player's character fights for what's clearly represented as good guys, but specifics of conflict aren't provided. Doesn't explore thoughts, motives of any characters beyond their need to destroy an evil artificial intelligence.

Ease of Play

Simple controls, yet AI opponent difficulty grows steadily, eventually becoming extremely hard.

Violence

Players control a tank from a first-person perspective, firing powerful missiles, machine guns, shells at robotic tanks, sentry turrets. Enemy vehicles burst into stylized blocks of flame, disappear when destroyed.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Battlezone is a futuristic tank combat game designed for virtual reality. Players view the battlefield from a first-person perspective within the cockpit of a tank, from which they can fire cannon shells, machine guns, and rockets at enemy vehicles and sentry turrets. Defeated units explode in blocky flames and disappear. Otherwise, there's no objectionable content in the game. Parents should be aware that virtual reality equipment makers don't recommend VR experiences for kids under 12 due to the potential impact the technology may have on younger players' physiological development.

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What's it about?

A virtual reality reboot of the decades-old arcade classic, BATTLEZONE puts players in the cockpit of a hover tank fighting an ongoing war against an entity known as the Corporation in a far-future Tron-like realm. The game's sole mode is a campaign composed of randomly generated tiles on a board, each of which represents a mission or narrative pit stop. The player chooses which tile to move to next after successfully completing a mission. The player's tank grows in strength as the campaign progresses, thanks to unlockable upgrades purchased with money earned while playing. Online multiplayer supports four players, which can make things a bit easier since teammates can protect and heal each other.

Is it any good?

There's something to be admired about this game's simplicity, but limited play reduces the fun of the arcade remake. Battlezone wants to do only one thing -- sci-fi tank combat -- and do it well. It largely succeeds, but in maintaining such a narrow focus it probably won't satisfy those who expect a game with a $60 price tag to have a little more meat on the bone. With no extra challenge modes or competitive online play, players are forced to eke as much as they can out of the relatively short campaign. Its randomly generated mission tiles are designed to facilitate replay, and the high level of challenge all but ensures you won't beat the campaign on your first, second, or even third try (unless you're lucky enough to team up with some extremely good allies online). With missions falling into only a handful of categories that boil down to variations on attacking and defending, there's simply not much variety.

The good news, though, is that the moment-to-moment combat is often a lot of fun. The interface expertly melds the advantages of VR's immersive first-person perspective with traditional gamepad controls for movement and aiming. It feels great, and the minimalist, futuristic visual design is stylish without sacrificing the satisfaction of big, rewarding explosions. Put plainly, it's fun to blow up towers and tanks. When you're in the heat of battle, you might even forget just how small and simple a game Battlezone is. Then the mission will end, you'll remember there's really not much more to this full-priced game than what you were just doing, and you might wonder whether you should have put your $60 toward something with a little more depth and longevity.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in media. Virtual reality tends to deepen a player's sense of immersion within a game, which can have the effect of making combat feel more intense, but were you surprised by the way Battlezone makes the player feel like he or she is really on a battlefield?

  • Talk about online play. Do you enjoy communicating with other players when playing online? What do you do when you encounter a bully or someone saying hateful things?

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