T.A.N.K. an entertaining 3D strategy game

Posted: May 11, 2009 in Shooter

Have you ever dreamed of playing cat and mouse with military vehicles? That’s the premise behind T.A.N.K., which is a 3D version of tank combat (e.g. Atari Combat and Battlezone). The objective is simple: destroy the other tank before it destroys you.

Visually, the game looks great as you command a tank through 4 different arenas. Besides the limited number of arenas, they are all the same size with the only changes being the obstacles, which is one shortcoming of T.A.N.K. The 3D environment runs smoothly and just feels like an arena. The game can only be played in portrait mode, which is not a big deal for me, but hopefully an option for landscape is included in a future update. Only one arena is unlocked to start with others unlocked after successfully completing levels.

Also, as you win more, additional tank customization options are unlocked that offer advantages in speed, armor protection, acceleration and weapons reload. A unique part of the customization section is that the tank visually changes based on your customization selections. The visual changes are instantaneous (think fashion accessories except with weapons), and the graphics are nicely weaved into this section. Also on the customization page, the game also provides statistics on such areas as win/loss and best rank among others.

T.A.N.K. also has a ranking system based on victories and are computed after the fourth arena. You begin as a private and by successfully completing one level for example, you receive the rank of Lieutenant, Major with two wins, Colonel with three, etc. Other ranks include Brigadier General and Major culminating with 5-Star General. In general, you begin with 5 lives and a bonus life is awarded when no lives are lost per level.

The controls are responsive and accurate, but there is a slight learning curve since it’s all about levers/sliders and knowing which to shift up or down to turn left or right in addition to the basic forward and reverse. If you’ve played Vector Tanks, then you’re more than familiar with the sliding controls, but it does take practice. I experienced no problems with them whatsoever outside of the occasional mistake of sliding the wrong way. The fire button is located in between the two level controls.

The gameplay screen is efficiently laid out, and even with the controls taking up space at the bottom of the screen, it’s functional yet elegant (or as elegant as you’re going to get with a tank game). On the left-hand side is a radar mini-map showing the positions of both tanks, obstacles and launched missiles. Also, healthbars (red for the enemy tank, white for the player) are located with the mini-map as well as the number of lives for both sides. The mini-map will be your eyes because T.A.N.K. is about hide and seek. In many cases, you won’t actually see the enemy tank and instead will rely on the radar to accurately bounce missiles off walls and structures.

The tank moves like a real tank in that it’s slow and deliberate in movements. Depending on selected customizations, there are noticeable changes in speed and acceleration as well as weapons fire. The physics in terms of ricocheting missiles off walls and structures are spot on. Missiles will ricochet several times, and as you move through the levels, you’ll get a good feel for the angles. One of the problems I do have is that the AI is not as intelligent as it could be especially in the first arena. The enemy tank will sit there as you bounce missiles off the wall hitting it and make no attempt to move. Fortunately, the AI gets smarter—if that’s the word—later on and as you move up the ranks. On that note, one of the strengths of T.A.N.K. is that the AI attacks, attacks, and attacks adding significantly to the gameplay. You’ll definitely need to watch for those ricochets because they will hit you before you know it. In terms of the four arenas, they generally consist of blocks and electrical fields (which btw are hazardous to your tank’s health). One nice detail the devs included is tank damage. It’s not overdone, but when you’re tank gets damaged, smoke and sparks appear. Exploding tanks are what T.A.N.K. is all about, and the again 3D explosions are more than adequate and add to fun.

T.A.N.K. is a polished and solid game with visually impressive graphics and 3D animation along with responsive controls. The replayability comes from unlocking tank weapons and customizations, and moving up the ranks. Hopefully, more arenas with different themes are added in future updates. As is, the current version of T.A.N.K. is a worthy addition to anyone’s iPhone/iPod Touch game library.

Albie Meter: 4 Stars (recommended for those itching for some tank whooping)

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