Sunday, July 27, 2008

IndestructoTank! AE

As you might be able to guess from the name, IndestructoTank! AE is a sequel to the previous game in the IndestructoTank series, Indestruct2Tank (review here), reprising the preposterous premise of previous IndestructoTanks with new, spruced-up graphics. (No matter how much I want the "AE" to stand for "After Earth", it only actually stands for "Anniversary Edition", however.)

Anyway, the gameplay is basically the same as in Indestruct2Tank: you have this invincible tank, but it will eventually run out of fuel, so you have to get passing enemies to drop bombs on you, which you can then use to boost yourself into the air and destroy them. Graphically, clearly a lot of effort has been put into the game to make it look much slicker -- the somewhat simplistic style of Indestruct2Tank is completely gone, replaced by an attempt to make it look more realistic. I don't really have a strong preference either way. Somewhat inexplicably, though, the screen size is smaller (maybe the more realistic models didn't scale up well?), which is kind of annoying. Also, enemy aircraft now fall to the ground when you destroy them, rather than just blowing up in midair, which is nice but can clutter up an often already confused screen. The music and sounds are the same as previously, though. The game also feels somewhat faster, which can be frustrating -- it's a lot easier to miss enemies -- but definitely helps to reduce the dead spots that plagued Indestruct2Tank.

IndestructoTank AE actually eliminates several of the gameplay modes from Indestruct2Tank. The story mode is entirely gone, which is a shame, because even though the plot was ridiculously terrible, it was still a nice contrast to the sameness of regular mode. The ability to select different difficulty levels for the regular mode is also gone, which is also kind of disappointing. In its place, there is "quick mode", which appears to be pretty much the same as regular mode except that you start with more enemies. The one new addition is a co-op mode, where the enemy has missiles that can destroy the IndestructoTank (hey, wait a minute...) and the other player has to use the mouse to shoot them down before the IndestructoTank is killed. This is kind of a neat idea (you can also play both roles yourself, but it's not easy), but the problem is that the balance is totally off -- in the later levels, you get so many points for shooting missiles that you don't need to really do anything with the tank except not get shot by the missiles. So, points for the idea, but it could really benefit from better execution. Speaking of points, the point formula has been changed radically from Indestruct2Tank -- in Indestruct2Tank, a combo of length n was worth 10n + n2 points, meaning that long combos could bring in huge numbers of points. However, in IndestructoTank AE, they're only worth 11n + n2/5 points, so the larger combos are worth a lot less (and hence there's less incentive to try to go for them). I'm not quite sure what the point of this change was.

Overall, while the central gameplay theme is still entertaining for a while, the limited play modes mean that this game occupied me for less time than Indestruct2Tank. Still, I was glad to play it -- I actually played and finished it before badges came out, so when they did come out, I instantly got badges. Always a rewarding feeling.

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