Tankz Delivers Quality 360 Combat Play

Posted: May 27, 2009 in Action, Shooter

For whatever reason, I’ve always had a place in my heart for tank games. So, when Tankz was released with its 3D graphics and hover tank battle theme, I jumped at it. And, it’s safe to say that if you’re looking for a 360-degree, action-oriented game with smooth graphics, Tankz will more than exceed your expectations.

Presented in various nifty 3D environments, the objective is to maneuver one of three high-powered tanks through obstacles, shooting and dodging enemy and tower fire all in an effort to collect flags to complete the level. You have three tanks to choose from: X10 Assault, Striker, and Leopard. Background information in terms of speed and mobility aren’t included, which I think would be helpful, so you are left to experiment. From experience, Striker tends to be most mobile, while the X10 and Leopard seem to be able to take more hits. There are also three vastly different environments to choose from: Valley, Ice Tunnels, and Desert Arena. My suggestion is to get comfortable initially in the Valley environment before attempting Ice Tunnels which has less traction, and Desert Arena which is more wide open in space.

Visually, the animation is really smooth with no lapses in framerate on my iPod Touch 2g. From the movement to the changing landscapes, I didn’t experience any noticeable lags, which is always a good sign for a game built around 360-degree movement. The d-pad controls in Tankz are responsive and done extremely well. Steering is accomplished by tilt, and the first thing you should do is practice. Depending on the environments and battle conditions, don’t be surprised if you zip right by flags or run into walls. But, in general, the controls have a good feel to them.

Tankz has two modes of play: Best Time and Best Score. With Best Time, the objective is to collect all the flags as quickly as possible while battling enemy fire and obstacles. Best Score, which is the one that appeals to me more, entails scoring as many points as possible by destroying enemies and collecting flags with the game ending when you’ve lost your three lives or all the flags are collected. One of the things that Tankz needs is a Campaign mode with various unlockables (e.g. levels, additional tank models). An awards/achievement system (e.g. military rank promotion, blowing up a certain number of tanks, collected 100 flags in a career, etc.) would also be ideal for Tankz and add to the replayability.

Easy and Hard are the two levels of difficulty, but even on the Easy setting, Tankz is a challenging game. One of the options during gameplay is the ability to switch from third to first-person view. In third-person view, aiming and shooting is less than ideal because of the lack of a reticule, which is present in the first-person view. Hopefully, this is something that is addressed in an update.

Enemies include Hammer Tanks and the Cog Tanks as well as Enemy Towers and mines placed throughout the environments. Additional enemies and obstacles would be welcome in future updates, but the present ones will keep you busy.

There are few things, not many, to help your tank survive the onslaught. You should be aware of two types of pads: Booster and Jump. The Booster pad is a health generator and will fix any damage to your tank and booster your health bar. Since some of the environments have an elevated level, the Jump pad helps reach those areas, and you can steer and guide your tank while it’s in the air. Also since your tank has limited ammo, there are icons representing missiles and bullets that can be collected to replenish those supplies.

On the game screen, a counter keeps track of yellow flags remaining and separate ammo counters for rockets and bullets. In addition to the d-pad, you have separate fire buttons for rockets and bullets as well as indicators for health and lives remaining.

In regards to the gameplay, Tankz is challenging as I stated before with relentless enemy tanks and towers, but it’s doable. The maneuvering is slick and being able to alternate between first and third-person views is lag free on my device. The Booster pad acts like a shield when the tank sits on top of it so don’t leave its confines until ready to do so. But admittedly, it would be nice to have several shield power ups randomly available. The different environments have different terrains, and there are noticeable effects on the tanks. There will be patches where it’s just your tank and the terrain and can be a little empty. But in gameplay, it’s a good time to regroup. The enemy tanks have no problems with ramming you, which happens pretty often, and many of the obstacles and enemies require several shots before being destroyed. So, it’s not about attacking as much as it is about collecting flags and surviving, and sometimes the best strategy is to outmaneuver and retreat.

Overall, this is a great game if you enjoy combat or are just a tank fanatic like I am, and planned updates should only make this better. At its current price, the entertainment value more than pays for itself.

Albie Meter: 4 Stars (the only thing holding back Tankz is the lack of a campaign mode, but that’s already coming)

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