Review by KFHEWUI
"Unique and original sport game that is still enjoyable to this day"
What do you get went you take basketball, football, skating, and demolition derby and mix them together? No, it is not the plot of the next Michael Bay movie. Instead you get the video game Battlesport.
Battlesport has no story instead it is more about the gameplay and competitive play, but there are several modes that can be played solo including instant action, exhibition, and tournament. Instant Action is good for people new to the game to wet their feet with, and the game allows the player to customize the track, shot clock, opponent, and vehicle. After that, the player gets to jump right into the action, and the game has a learning curve that does take some time to get used to.
Each game is broken into three periods with each period consisting of three minutes, and the objective is to score more points than the opponent. If the third period ends in a tie, there is a sudden death round where the first player to either score or kill the opponent wins. Before starting each round a screen will reveal the ball type and goal type, and this is very important to notice since the ball comes in several different colors including light blue, orange, and yellow however a map in the upper corner will show the ball as a yellow dot. A blue dot represents the goal, and the red dot is the opponent. The goal will come in one of several sizes ranging from one sided goal, two sided, four sided, rotating, hover, moving, and/or a combination of each.
Battlesport boosts a whooping fifty arenas to play on, and each arena has a different look and range in different sizes plus they have different obstacles on them including pillars, bumps, and jump pads. The game looks great, and the arenas look nice including one which has a lava texture for a floor (lava does not cause damage). The backgrounds change too including day scenes, night scenes, and dawn and may also include different planets/moons in the background. There is a CGI cut scene at the start of the game before the main menu that looks great, and it is action packed and nicely animated. The vehicles and objects in the game are nicely modeled and lack the blocky design, and they are nice animated especially when they are destroyed and shatter.
Music is decent, and I quite enjoyed each track that had a rock sound however over time the music can blend right into the background. Sound effects are much better including explosions when a vehicle is destroyed, and the lasers have a nice pew pew sound. There is a buzzer for when each period has come to an end. Voice acting is included in the game which is mainly a narrator for gameplay, menu, and store, and the guy does a good job and providing a performance of someone being enthralled by the match. One part worth noting is that if the player has too many items equipped while trying to select another item, the guy will be annoyed and after a few times, the player will get kicked out of the store.
Once the competition starts, the player can either go straight to scoring or killing the opponent, and the game takes place in first person. Battlesport incorporates an inertia system that takes time to get used to, and for example if the player rams into a wall or an object their momentum will carry them backwards for a few feet before being able to move. The same goes for when the player is strafing, and this does take a while to get used however once the player does get used to it they will be able to navigate the levels and score with ease.
The controls are a mix bag, and the menu controls are awkward. For example when saving, the player has to hit "start" with yes highlighted to save but hitting any other button will do nothing. The first time I thought the game had frozen until I discovered by accident that I had to hit "start". The vehicles controls are much better and nicely laid out and they are solid and responsive. Movement is handled by the D-pad while strafing can be performed by "L1" and "R1", and the face buttons are used for shooting bullets, missiles, and ball. One problem I do have with the controls is that hitting "L1" and "R1" simultaneously will result in the vehicle jumping, and there were several times where I would accidently jump when I was strafing back and forth.
The objective is to collect the ball and shoot it into the goal however the opponent will also be trying to get the ball or trying to kill the player. If the player dies, it will take a few seconds to spawn again however the more the player dies, the longer it will take for them to spawn so this can be used for an advantage. There are a wide variety of items to also aide or hinder the player, and there is a large amount of items included and include: ball freeze, ball attract, more time, blind the enemy, fumble protect, and cloak to name a few however only a few of the items will show up in each arena. The items are selected at random.
To combat the opponent, the player has lasers and missiles, and the lasers are great for quick damage however the missiles can cause the opponent or player to fumble the ball if they are hit by them. The player can also ram into enemies to knock them out of the way, but just be sure not to knock them into the ball.
The meat of the game for single player is tournament mode where the player fight against several opponents (one per round) for the best of three rounds however it starts out as 3 but will increase as the tournament mode continues. Each opponent has a unique style, own vehicle, and special ability, but before starting the tournament, the player has to buy a tank. The game starts out with only three types of tanks however new tanks are unlocked as the player progresses through the ranks. After this the player can start the battle, but first they can buy items from the store to equip their tanks with. Each tank can only carry three items at a time and choosing the right items is a huge part of the strategy.
Tournament mode does not start out too bad, but the AI is a mix bag. Opponents will range from interested in only killing the player or driving the score up, and the AI has a major flaw. It cheats badly. Sometimes the enemy will drop down and score within five seconds of the match starting, and other times they will just hunt down the player endlessly. As the mode progresses, it gets worse especially when the opponents show off their special ability like Shadow that can turn invisible for long amounts of time. This mode is just worth a single play through and nothing more.
Multiplayer is where the meat of the game resides, and for a game that was released in '95 on the 3DO then being ported to the PS1 in '97, it has a large amount of depth and customization for the time. This makes each match feel and play different rather from the different types of goals, ball design, course design, and vast amount of items to select from even in this day and age, I still had a ball with this game.
Battlesport is a fantastic game that was a head of its time with the complex physics system and complex customization, and even in this day, the depth of the multiplayer is still enjoyable. This is one game that definitely is worth playing, and I would love to see it make a comeback.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/16/12
Game Release: BattleSport (US, 06/30/97)
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