Review - BattleSport
Posted: Mon Apr 12, 2010 11:38 pm
So here it is, my 50th 3DO review posted on this forum. Trying to decide which one to submit took some thought ... I have reviews that are much longer, I have reviews that are more humorous (bad games set themselves up especially well for a funny review, but it didn’t seem right to have my 50th be on a bad game) In the end I went with one of my all time favorites … BattleSport.
We’ve surely all heard the expression “wrong place, wrong time”. This is certainly applicable in the case of BattleSport. The place, the 3DO console … the time, 4th quarter of ’95. As great a system as the 3DO was, most gamers then were excited about the first xmas seasons of the Sony Playstation and the Sega Saturn. Only the 3DO faithful remained to take notice. But with other Studio 3DO games that had released (or were on the horizon) getting more hype (Blade Force, Captain Quazar, Killing Time, etc …) BattleSport seemed to get lost in the shuffle ... despite being the better game in my opinion. The mixed reviews likely didn’t do it any favors either. But this review isn’t swayed by new system hype, or multi platform format time restraints. It is genuine, and I genuinly believe BattleSport is one of the finest 3DO games ever made
True, the idea behind this game isn’t 100% fresh (few games are) with its blending of sport and combat (there have been a handful of games with similar ideas released over the years) But guess what? It doesn’t matter in the slightest, especially when the execution is as good as this game's is. Pitting you against lively computer opponents (who you’ll truly grow to loathe) or a friend in 2-player mode, your object is to score more than the opposition by shooting the ball into his or her goal, all while dodging all manner of firepower thrown you way. It’s fun, and not nearly as straightforward as you might think.
In fact, it’s the many ways BattleSport is unique that really boost it’s fun factor. First, the number of arenas you are thrown into (dozens to choose from) get much much more complex as you progress (shape, type and number of obstacles, addition of ramps, etc…) Your futuristic vehicles are not only upgradable, but capable of firing quite the cool arsenal of weapons (more on them in a bit)
There are also over a dozen random power ups that you’ll need to make smart use of. And the goal for which you are aiming for …well, it is constantly changing! Sometimes it has openings on all sides, sometimes it hovers above the ground and you have to shoot while jumping, etc… The constant variety ensures that each contest feels exciting and fresh … still true even all these years later.
Standard exhibition and 2-player modes are present, as well as instant action for those seeking a quick game (nicely customizable to your liking) Additionally there is a tournament mode where you take on opponents in order of rank. This is a mode that deserves much play. When you see to the degree that the loathsome competition varies in terms of strategies, and what tactics they employ it adds an additional layer of respect for the game … well, begrudging respect perhaps, as you may also be aggravated when you start accumulating multiple loses. Yes, failing to make continued adjustments will result in many a loss, and no two opponents are exactly alike. You’ll need tricks and tricks aplenty up your sleeve to advance to the later rounds. I must say that each victory offers a great deal of satisfaction, which is added by all the game stats shown at the end of combat. These let you see how you preformed in specific areas (shot accuracy, fumbles, time of possession, etc …) and can add some bragging rights in the 2-player mode. I want to stress again that though later loses in the tournament mode can frustrate at times, it never keeps me from trying again. (thank you save mode!)
As far as graphics go, BattleSport represents a very solid package. While the visuals may not blow you away at first (aside from the incredible intro) you’ve no choice but respect them for handling so ably the task at hand.
No fear of being distracted by polygon warping/tearing or other glitches common in early 3d games of this style. This is made all the more impressive when you consider how frantic this game is! (In a good way mind you) Some nice colors, and a variety of graphics above the arenas (space vessels, planets, star, etc …) help add to the overall graphic package.
The audio end of BattleSport is likewise good. The intense sound effects are fitting for the arcade nature of this game. The enthusiastic announcer is a very welcome addition (and is also helpful too, informing you if your opponenet finds the ball for instance) The music compliments the aforementioned, blending nicely while being appropriately subdued by comparison (it is adjustable if you like) While it can be easy to overlook with so much action going on, I’ll think you’ll agree it adds to the game.
Control wise things may seem slightly clumsy at first but you’ll soon come to see that any clumsiness is a result of the player, not the game. The main target of criticism, I’m guessing, is the inertia of the vehicles (I know my wife hates the “slippery” feel of them) but you’ll quickly get used to it I think. It simply adds another layer to the game, and keeps you on the edge of your seat besides. And really, wouldn’t it seem just a little weird if these 30 ton tanks could turn of a dime?
Everything else like firing weapons and jumping (even moving backwards) is a piece of cake. It feels natural and is quickly second nature. You’ll never need to pause and think and say, look down at the controller … everything just clicks. The only exception I’ve found to this occurs when using special equipment (taking you to another menu slows the action down)
Speaking of special equipment, the store that you buy it from offers all types of goodies for your tank. Varying strength lasers and missiles are the main firepower, along with the clever power ups (for example, one that makes your opponent temporarily blind) There are many choices , but sadly the small inventory means you can only carry a tiny number with you at any one time. It is fun learning which are the most useful, and ultimately which are your favorites.
Oh, and they are not all weapon based either. There are several that upgrade your vehicle with super shielding or super speed. A couple other unique ones worth mentioning are the clocks which can add anywhere from a minute to a full period for each contest (great if you are behind late) and also ones that let you freeze the goal for those stages where it is moving or spinning.
Studio 3DO tried to get the arcade experience right with other games, but didn’t totally succeed. Slightly unfocused efforts like the popular Blade Force had levels far too long for a true arcade experience, and Captain Quazar likewise broke rank with maze levels, needing to get passwords, etc … But with BattleSport they got it perfect! It manages to offer plenty of extras to console players without losing its’ arcade feel. Overall, those looking for a competitive arcade fun on the 3DO can’t do much better than BattleSport. Its entertainment level is off the chart, and the replay value isn’t far behind.. Easily among the best of the Studio 3DO published games, and one of the consoles best games period!