Welcome to the Cold War ~in space!~
Battlezone is another childhood classic of mine. Like all the games I have recently been playing, I fucking love this game. In BZ's case, barely anyone owns it or even knows this version exists. It was relatively obscure back in the day and even more so now. I want to change that with a fantastic LP where I'm once again joined by Coolguye, TheLastRoboKy, and Jade Star. You can find their LPs here and here.
The quick and dirty of it is that in 1952, the Bering Strait was hit by a meteor shower containing an alien material known as bio-metal. The material was discovered in large enough quantities that both the and got their hands on it and used it to develop amazing new technologies, weapons, and vehicles for use in military situations, all in complete secrecy. As the Russians were far ahead of the US in these technological race, and following the depletion of this resource on Earth, Dwight D. Eisenhower commissioned his closest friend, George Collins, to head up a black-box military branch of newly formed NASA, the NSDF(National Space Defense Force), and handpick his army to head into space to gather more of this wonderful material and stop the Russians from doing so. The Soviets and their equivalent CCA(Cosmo Colonist Army) have already beaten them to Sol's other planets and are actively engaging the Americans for control of this resource.
With two massive armies moved into space and billions of dollars invested in incredible military constructions, not a soul on Earth knows of the battles to come that will shape the future of humanity.
Ok what is this game?
Battlezone was developed and published by Activision in 1998. It is a strategy-shooter hybrid, where you take control of a number of vehicles, build up your forces in most cases, and lead them to victory against the enemy. You will pilot scout fighters, tanks, bombers, rocket tanks, and walkers with an impressive arsenal. You have access to a number of buildings in the game such as gun towers and communication arrays. There are two universal resources in the game that dictate the flow of battle: Bio-metal/Scrap, and Pilots. Scrap is the resource which is used to construct all vehicles, weapons, and buildings in the game and you are in constant competition for it at the start of most missions. Pilots are needed to operate the vehicles you build of course, and they are finite. There is a chance that pilots will eject if their vehicle is destroyed, but if they die on their way back they are lost permanently.
The 98 Redux version takes the original game and its expansion pack, both kept alive by community investment over the years, and applies their changes and a host of other upgrades & improvements to deliver the game in a fresh, working state. Rebellion has faithfully kept all missions and dialogue intact from their original forms with only a couple exceptions, and the introduction of mod support only sweetened the deal for me. Some of the changes to gameplay are not good however, and I'll point them out as I see or suspect them in the videos and we'll see if they are clarified.
Battlezone saw enough success that led to a sequel called The Red Odyssey, featuring a separate branch of the NSDF, the Black Dogs, fighting against the Chinese as the bulk of the NSDF squared off with the Russians. This expansion was not developed by Activision and languished in utter obscurity to my knowledge, and to be honest it was deserved. I love the original game and I even love TRO and its story, but the missions are aggressively frustrating and have not aged well due to what I can only logically assume is a complete lack of play testing. The Redux version's changes have negatively impacted some of the missions too, but I admit it's been about 7-9 years since I played the original TRO and while I scornfully remark about my recent experience with it I will still enjoy every second of it.
I love this game and I think my co-commentators will too.
Alright how's this work?
There are four reasons I want to do this game:
1. I love it.
2. Cpl. Kerberos didn't finish the first LP of this game.
3. This version works and has all sorts of HD-ification.
When I considered all 4 of these points, the decision was clear just after I beat the entire game on Very Hard difficulty. There are a bunch of missions spanning several planets & moons in the game, and the VLP is following my usual style. The two missions on Earth's Moon, for example, are in a single video, and the three missions on Mars will subsequently be in a single video. I want to show off the downright hysterical moments and badass combat that can take place in this game and hopefully get people to buy it. It's $25 on Steam for both BZ98 and TRO. Rebellion is still active in their forum, and I believe that they have one or maybe more original developers around whom I am going to try and ask to drop in at some point and give some insight!
The fourth point was especially worth it to me because I've slipped in a lot of modified sounds to the game. These were done mostly to offset me during missions in TRO (and to save me editing time ) but they will show up here and there and generally be in the background
These memos are all from the manual and do a bit of world building. I've got them set here.
Commander Jason Bates (Grizzly One)
Jason 'Absolutely Not A Literal Bear' Bates
One of many field commanders in the NSDF force, a bright officer in the U.S armed forces before being recruited to the NSDF. With no close relatives and a complete commitment to the United States government, he was perfect for the secret military branch of NASA. Love for his country and the free world fueled the desire to fight against the communists in space. His voice is the narration of the primary campaign and war between the CCA and the NSDF. His recorded audio logs detail the events between major missions, including his own musings on the conflict and the secrecy surrounding it.
General George Collins
Hey, where are we going today, General Collins?
A close friend of President Eisenhower and a respected general in his own right, Collins was handpicked to lead the NSDF into space to beat the Russians in the race for the biometal and secure Americas future in space. Having to constantly make hard decisions against overwhelming forces, decisions that leave many good men to die in some cases, has made his weary outlook on life all the more difficult.
As such, his broiling rage manifests in strange ways throughout the cosmos and appears to antagonize anybody just trying to get through the day.
Lieutenant Corbett Black Dog Sergeant
In charge of training NSDF recruits and acting as Collins' immediate emissary, Lt. Corbett serves as the head of intelligence in the NSDF. But we all know his real secret.
Holy shit calm down Corporal Buzz
An unseen wingman of Grizzly One whose hyperactive personality sees him shoved down quite a few stairs. In an alternate reality he gets promoted to Commander because Collins was mad that Grizzly One wouldnt investigate an object.
And trust us when we say, Collins likes objects.
Commander Alexei Doyestevski
Commander Alexei "Totally Not Just Grizzly One In A Different Hat" Doyestevski
Alexei Doyestevski is fresh out of officers school for his first missions in space. Although he falls under the incompetent supervision of General Romeski, he squares off with the elite Black Dog Squadron of the NSDF and secures the CCAs dominance in the broader war. Although Romeski steals the glory, his men respect him greatly, and its sure that Karnov knows of Romeskis foolishness all the same.
General (Commander after demotion) Romeski
Romeski is Karnovs right hand in the Cosmo Colonist Army, and a brownnoser bucking for promotion. His greed for power causes friction among the Peoples Army.
General Jinborov "Karnov" Karnovski, in command of the CCA due to his treasure-hunting expertise and this totally cool fire-breathing trick he does.
Karnov is the supreme commander of all CCA forces, General Collins equivalent. He take a laid back approach to command and allows his officers to shine on their own merits, and if need be, their own ambitions.
Commander Harris of The Black Dogs squadron.
On 100x more stimulants than Collins!
Commander Harris is a huge prick in charge of the platoon on Ganymede. He is an incompetent malcontent who cracks under pressure, but his complaints at least spur the others to do better than him.
Black Dog Lieutenant
Someone said 'Biometal Pilot' and it just showed up
The unnamed Black Dog lieutenant does have a voice. Rarely does he report to command, but he's in it to win it. No matter what.
Unnamed Chinese Major
His Silent Protagonist technique is shooting the mic out
The unnamed Chinese Major stars as the protagonist of the Red Storm campaign. Little is known about him except he's expected to do every thing around Ganymede with little backup...
(NICHOLAS CAGE as) GENERAL FU (Manchu)
General Fu is the leader of the CRA and a man known across the Solar System as a man guilty of many crimes.