If you look across all of Gameloft’s titles on the Mac, and on the iPhone for that matter, they all have something in common; those vibrant 3D graphics that try their upmost to be flashy and glamourous but seem a little unpolished and lack realism. And this is not a surprise as they all use the same Gameloft engine. I don’t know about you, but I am getting sick and tired of that same old look and feel that comes standard with every Gameloft game, and thankfully, Tank Battles has strode in to show that the games company are willing to experiment a little.
Tank Battle Gameplay
Tank Battles is an arena-style tank fest where you play as one coloured tank amidst a group of three on the field. Depending on the game mode you’re in, you will either have to destroy the other tanks in a deathmatch scenario, team up with a buddy in team deathmatch or complete an objective like capture the flag. This concept certainly isn’t new, but Gameloft have put their own spin things and surprisingly use their creativity to create a game with massive potential.
Tank Battles includes 50 levels with each and every one incorporating something new or interesting into their layout. There are portals, gates, conveyor belts, destructible walls, moving blocks, ice etc. From a grassy field to a metal confinement, Tank Battles’ level design is outstanding and discovering new arenas that make you think twice about your movements and strategise is a welcome feature. To extend this strategic element even further, power-ups randomly spawn which enhance your tank and arsenal say with a rocket launcher, or increase your rate of fire or speed. Power-ups can be a little overpowered at times, because the guy with the enhancement, no matter what, is always going to win in a showdown. Nonetheless, it keeps the gameplay frantic and varied.
Tank Battles includes a campaign as well as a create-your-own match and multiplayer. The campaign splits the maps into its themes and then gives you a limited number of lives to get through each pack of levels. Each level is played one after the other and pits you up against a specific number of enemy tanks and turrets. If you lose all of your lives then you are sent back to the first level in the pack. This set-up works surprisingly well and ramps up in difficulty as you progress to the harder levels. Repeating levels may become frustrating but as a campaign, it’s a satisfying enough feature. Plus you unlock more cameos for your tank after you complete each themed pack which you can use online to show off.
I wouldn’t necessarily describe Tank Battles as being one of the best looking games I’ve seen, but it comes with a lot of polish that actually helps it carve its own unique cartoony art-style that I really like. Whereas the format maybe less ambitious than say an FPS, Gameloft have really hit home trying to make the game look and run great in single player. This may be in part because the game is native to Mac, and not an iPhone port, but either way, I like the change.
Gameloft have never had a good reputation with computer controlled opponents, and unfortunately Tank Battles doesn’t buck this trend. You will have to turn the enemies to their hardest setting to get a challenge and even then, it’s easy to overpower your opponents. Enemies don’t rush at power-ups like they should and don’t retreat when it’s probably wise to. Instead they blindly walk into any confrontation guns blazing and this makes then predictable targets.
As a result, multiplayer is a key feature in Tank Battles and while you will be occupied for an hour or two playing solo, playing with and against a human opponent is vital for a memorable and enjoyable experience. Unfortunately, multiplayer on Tank Battles is horrendous. The user interface is a bit messy, but most of all, gameplay suffers from about 1 second of lag. This may not sound like much, but when it takes a second for the game to realise that you just pressed fire, it makes for a cringe-worthy and frustrating time. Offline the game runs fine, but online, it’s horrible.
I know I say this a lot, but it really is such a shame that a game with this much potential falls at the last hurdle. I honestly found myself having a ton of fun offline, but the lack of a stable online functionality ruins the experience and the brilliant game this could have been. Better luck next time Gameloft. I know you’ll get there one day.
Description: Fresh Arena Tank Combat
Pros: Polished graphics, a fresh step for Gameloft, very frantic and fun, great level design.
Cons: Multiplayer is unplayable, AI is pretty pathetic.