Remember Worms? Scorched Earth? If you do, you already know the basic concept behind Death Tank.
For those who don’t, here are the basics. You have a tank. There’s an enemy tank on the screen. You aim your turret, guessing a trajectory which will land your shell close enough to do damage. You then select how much power to use to launch the shell. Generally, you then miss completely, and the enemy gets a turn at taking a shot. Rinse repeat until someone’s tank is destroyed.
It’s a simple game mechanic, used in tonnes of games, from the 80’s right though to today. There’s even a variant on the iPhone. Worms upped the ante by adding movement, personalities, and a variety of weapons into the mix. Several sequels have been and gone since, proving to be popular hot seat games on PC.
But lets be fair, it’s been done. A lot. In many cases you can get free variants of this style of game. An Xbox LIVE title offering the same type of gameplay would need an ace up its sleeve to get a savvy gamer to part with their money.
Death Tank starts by having an awesome name. Anything with death and tanks in it has to be good in some way, right? The game is good. It’s not really innovative in the sense that each of its features has probably been done before. What makes it good is how it puts all the cool things from the earlier examples together. You get tanks, multiple players at once, achievements, the ability to move your tank between shots, a range of weapons, and online multiplayer.
However the two best features are ones that I have not seen before in this type of game. That’s not to say they have never been done, but they were new to me and I’ve played a fair few games in my time.
Firstly, the controls have been matched to the analogue sticks. This allows for some pretty accurate aiming, and allows you to aim and adjust power levels at the same time. This is vitally important, as it’s directly related to the best feature of the game. Death Tank takes one of the main conventions of trajectory games, and throws it out the window. Traditionally these games have been a turn based, player one takes a shot, then player two take a shot, sort of affair. The beauty of Death Tank lies in the fact that it’s live. Not turns, no waiting. Free for all carnage is the name of the game. Gameplay is balanced by giving each type of shell a reload time, so that it’s not all spam all the time. Whilst you are trying to aim and power your shots as fast as possible on the analogue stick, you also have to time them carefully, as your enemies may be repositioning their tanks, or be about to reload. If you miss, there’s downtime of a second or two while you reload, giving the enemy time to have a shot at you.
You can slowly move your tank left and right using the triggers on the controller, however it’s pretty slow and is only going to get you out of the way of the basic shells. The better weapons can have a rather a large damage radius, so it’s case of shoot them before they shoot you.
All up, Death Tank is a lot of fun. It has a solo player game, though why you’d bother I don’t know as the game is really all about the multiplayer. It's a good game for a few mates with a few beers, and a lot of smack talk.
If you're keen to give Death Tank a shot, check out this short trailer over at GP Downloads first.