After global thermonuclear war, everyone needs a break. A TV break! What better way to pass an evening and preserve the last vestiges of civilization than by watching pumped, crazed and heavily armed competitors in monster tanks banging heads toe-to-toe for the championship of the WDL? Rock and Roll!
Adding a four-player match to its popular Battletanx franchise, 3DO came up with the solution to people who are bagging the PS2 – a mindless action game where total destruction is the point and purpose. After ten minutes of game play, you forget that you paid three hundred dollars for the system. Thunder Tanks is fast, good-looking, and thumb-blistering fun, and a good four-player game.
Chili Con Carnage
The graphics are just what is to be expected from the PlayStation 2 – solid, clean lines, no breakups, no fogging or draw in, and no slowdown. What sets Thunder Tanks apart are the magnificent explosion effects, the cool weapons, and the individual personality of each tank – all beautifully realized on the PlayStation 2. The arenas that you battle in are just as superbly conceptualized, with full-scale destruction on the buildings, peripheral walls, and other obstacles.
Sound wise, the game is just as powerful with the audio as it is with the graphics. Using a TV style presentation, you get commentary worthy of a wrestling game – loud, smash-mouth trash talking from the male commentator, and matter-of-fact coverage from the female commentator. The other effects, like the buildings collapsing or the tanks being blown into scrap metal heaven, are so crystal clear that they hurt – you’ll even hear the treads squeal as they try to run over debris.
Wheels of Misfortune
The controls are tricky, simply because backing up and turning these heavy-engine behemoths requires some lag time. You won’t be making dime turns or racing around corners here – you have to stop, shoot, back up, and run every time you come across an obstacle that can’t be blown up (luckily, most can). The secondary firing mechanism (every tank has one) is stored on one of the triggers. There are even strafe functions to take care of oncoming tanks that line up in a row. The only problem is with the view – you’re limited to a first person view unless you take the trigger option (holding down a trigger to give you an isometric view). If the game was completely in the isometric view, it would play a lot like the Tanks game mentioned earlier – and would have brought in a lot of novice players.
Then again, who needs the novices? The game is rock-and-roll-‘em-over fun, with great graphics, explosive sound, and fairly simple game play. The deathmatches are the most fun, but even the single player missions are a blast to get through (no pun intended). If you’re into complete and total destruction (ala Blast Corps for the Nintendo 64), then you’ll have a hell of a time with Thunder Tanks. It will blow you away.