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Tank! Tank! Tank! review

Friday 21 Dec 2012 2:43 p.m.

Tank! Tank! Tank! was released November 30, 2012

Tank! Tank! Tank! was released November 30, 2012

By Alan Bell

On the surface, the idea behind Namco’s arcade shooter Tank! Tank! Tank! is a good one.

You take the titular tank (just one - at a time, anyway) into a small arena and lay waste to an assemblage of bad guys, most of whom are giant robotic versions of insects.

Sounds fun, right?

You probably even think you know basically how it will work; the sorts of controls you might use, the basic game structure, all that good stuff.

Unfortunately, you’d be dead wrong on all counts.

Tank! Tank! Tank!, it turns out, is a disaster. Everything about it disappoints, from the way it plays to the way it looks, the way it uses the Wii U’s copious input options, the structure, the presentation, the sound, the story, and, in fact, everything else.

To start with, the way in which you control your tank is far simpler than it should be. Rather than, say, driving around with the left stick and aiming with the right, either stick here serves as the steering; you cannot independently steer and shoot. Similarly, all of the buttons do the same thing - fire your weapon.

Hoping to strafe out of the way of incoming fire? No can do. Keen to maybe fire over your shoulder as you beat a tactical retreat in the face of overwhelming odds? Not an option. Want to take a strategic shot at a particular enemy? Too bad - auto-aim is the name of the day here, even if that means pointing your gun straight up at an unseen enemy somewhere in the sky above you.

The weapons system, on the surface, sounds interesting. Each tank has a different base weapon, and two different kinds of power-ups (yellow and blue) have a chance of dropping as you fight. The yellow power-up lets you use that tank’s tier-two gun, while the (much rarer) blue power-up lets you use the tier-three weapon.

The tier-three weapon is far, far more powerful than your other two guns, which means that success or failure on later levels (they're time-based) comes down to how lucky you were with power-up drops more than anything else. This massive failure of game design is immediately apparent, and that the game shipped with it intact is testament to how little anyone involved appears to have cared about the quality of the experience.

Outside of the levels themselves, the game’s structure is built around repetition. Completing a level with a tank for the first time earns you a medal; you need to earn an increasingly large number of medals to unlock more tanks and levels. Progression, therefore, means repeating already-unlocked levels in order to gain access to new tanks and levels. If the core game was fun, this wouldn’t be so bad; as already discussed, however, that’s not the case.

Visually, it looks like a Dreamcast game, with general presentation that’s eerily reminiscent of SEGA’s arcade ports that appeared on that system when it was in vogue. Not familiar with the Dreamcast? Don’t be embarrassed; it ceased being relevant (unfortunately) a decade ago.

Everything about the graphics, in fact, is vastly inferior to anything released on PS3, 360, or PC in living memory. The creatures are low resolution, barely animated, and poorly textured. As a combination, it looks much more like a 3DS game than something you’d expect to find on a “next gen” system.

The levels are small, boxy, flat, and boring as hell. There’s nothing about any of them that in anyway suggests any element of design was involved in their creation. Instead, they were simply built, and by people that - there’s a theme here - just didn’t seem to care.

The only thing even remotely interesting about the levels is that much of their contents (what little there is) can be destroyed, adding an element of dynamism to the experience. In reality, that’s more of a perception thing than anything that actually impacts proceedings, but it’s something.

The “story” belies its arcade origins, too; there’s nothing here. The mid-level “cut scenes” consist of a few lines of banal text (which are repeated every time you repeat said level, which is often), and at no point do you feel in anyway connected to what’s going on, let alone care about it.

There are occasional moments that hint at the potential of the premise; a battle against giant robotic skyscrapers here, the collapse of a building under your unrelenting barrage there.

With workable controls, this could have been a half-decent, low-priced download game. As it stands, however, it’s one of the worst games on the platform and one of the worst launch games on any system, ever.


     Tank! Tank! Tank!  
:: Publisher: Namco Bandai
:: Developer: Namco Bandai
:: Format: Wii U
:: Rating: PG

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