|Weve come a long way since the days when we sat around
marveling at the coolness of Atari Pong tanks, and the latest game in the 3DO family
brings us another step closer in our quest for the ultimate post-apocalyptic armored force
vehicle. In Battle Tanx: Global Assault, you are Griffin Spade, a Battlelord trying to
beat the odds and keep your tribe and family safe from the mutants, creeps, and evil
Queenlords. The year is 2006 and youre living in the aftermath of the X-2 virus,
which wiped out most of the female population of the earth, and the global nuclear war
which followed as countries vied for the remaining women. Survivors have banded together,
with the more violent calling themselves "gangs" and the more peaceful (but not
wimpy by any stretch of the imagination) calling themselves "tribes." Your wife
Madison (a revered Queenlord) and son Brandon, along with the rest of your tribe, have
established a base in San Francisco. But lately youve been disturbed by nightmares
(visions really) in which a sinister Queenlord watches you and your family with a terrible
purpose in mind. As you play, you realize her evil minions are after your
telepathic/kinetic son. The Force
The Edge is strong with this one, and as
you struggle through war-torn cityscapes, you must meet each levels objectives,
challenge all gangs, and eventually rescue your son from the forces of evil, or perish in
fiery tank-blowing flames.
Battle Tanx features a four player mode in which you can choose seven multiplayer options (each with different objectives like capture-the-queenlords or protect/destroy the convoy), a campaign mode, and the crowning achievement, a two player campaign mode. To me, this was the option that pushed a three star game to four stars. There are plenty of games that allow you to fight against each other or on teams, but a game where multiple players can work toward a campaign goal is fairly unique in the current gaming pool.
In the multiplayer mode you can choose to be one of 10 different gangs, from burly brutes called the Skull Riderz to the mutant Dark Angels, and a plethora of other misfits that each have four different tanks to choose from. In the campaign mode you can choose which tanks you want to use (although your options are limited by level) and can purchase another tank or repair your original by finding power-ups in the level which give you "Tank Bucks." This is a nice option because if you are a good scrounger, you can play for a long time and collect a pretty hefty arsenal. These tanks are fairly well designed and each has unique size, armament, and movement. It comes in handy to have several different types of vehicles, as conditions/goals in each level vary. Sometimes speed is of the essence, and the lighter, faster tanks are preferable. Other times you need the ability to withstand some pretty heavy bombardment, and in those cases the slower more heavily armored tanks are better.
As far as weapons go, besides the standard missiles, grenades, laser, and mines, you get other neat options such as nukes, plasma bolts, flame throwers, and the ever popular, bouncing betty. My favorite, however, was the gun buddy power-ups, which act as additional firepower, damage relief, and sometimes can work as decoys to attract enemy fire. You can also pick up cloaks and shields, and later in the game you are able to pick up single use power-ups of The Edge (which generally acts as a stun).
Although the cinematics are great, the graphics during game play definitely need work. Lots of work. The landscapes are not very detailed and there is some serious Nintendo haze in the background. This makes it pretty difficult to spot and lock on to enemy tanks who are using long-range weaponry. You basically have to track them on your radar or wait to get hit to get a good bead on them. One of the few nice things about the landscape, however, is in most cities you can blow up many of the buildings and get extra goodies (power-ups) to boot. You just cant beat getting rewarded for your violent tendencies!
There are quite a few different locations to play in during battle-mode which is nice for a change of pace. It may not be logical to stroll on over to Europe (in your tank, of course), but its fun to see exotic locales and wreak havoc on famous foreign icons. In the campaign mode there are 18 different levels, and if you beat them you can break out another level, but you have to replay the campaign mode to access it (can you sense my sarcastic frustration, young Paduan?). But, the game does give you codes for each level, so life is not all bad.
The music sets a good tone for the game, fluctuating between industrial rock and not-so-heavy metal. It pumps you up but doesnt intrude into the game play and is nicely matched with the post-apocalyptic motley crew of characters.
The camera and movement are fairly smooth in this game, and it doesnt take long to get used to the idiosyncrasies of each tank. What probably bothered me the most (besides the graphics) was the radar set-up during the campaign mode. In some levels, I found it was distracting and difficult to interpret the schematic and apply it to what I was seeing on the rest of the screen. But it does works effectively enough in the battle-modes.
On the 3DO website they promise that this game has great AI capabilities. I wasnt expecting much, and therefore, was not disappointed. This really isnt a promise that they can live up to with this game. The only time I could sense anything remotely resembling it was when the game started making certain actions (usually infiltrating a bunkers by destroying guard tanks) inordinately and illogically difficult. However, there really isnt much necessity for high intelligence (on your part or the games). I think this is why Battle Tanx has gotten so many mixed reviews. Its definitely not a thinking mans (or womans) game on any level. But it is fun.
The plot line is pretty extraneous to actual game play except in the most basic ways. If youre in the mood for fast-paced action with some seriously destructive possibilities, and you dont mind lower level graphics, this game is a blast (no pun intended). Battle Tanx provides lots of possibilities for game play (which adds to its longevity) and a great cast of characters that would make Snake Pliskin proud. If youre in the mood for an exciting no-brainer, roll on in to your nearest video hookup and try Battle Tanx: Global Assault.