|System: X360 (XBLA)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Snowblind Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Microsoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 18, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-8||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
Back in the days of DOS-based shareware, a little game by the name of Scorched Earth had the tendency to make computer geeks huddle around a single PC screen to engage in turn-based artillery combat across mountainous terrain. As explosive shells and expletives flew, few other games of its time provided such an enticing group multiplayer gaming activity on a single computer. Channeling the spirit of Scorched Earth, developer Snowblind Studios offers a destructively good time with its appropriately-named Death Tank.
With such a straightforward moniker, it shouldnt be much of a surprise that youre immediately met by a sinister, fanged, floating skull hovering in outer space with flames shooting out of its eye sockets and a blast of heavy metal music in the background upon loading Death Tank. If that doesnt scream awesome, Im not sure what does. Maybe the developer could have thrown in an eagle carrying a nuclear warhead in its talons or a zombie unicorn shooting lasers from its horn for good measure. Regardless, its a fitting intro for a game thats solely about dealing hot death through the barrel of a tank cannon.
Realistically, mountainous terrain doesnt immediately seem like such a great place for tank warfare, but having to fire over and occasionally through something to get at your opponents is far more interesting than battling across a flat playing field. As one of a handful of tanks dropped onto a hilly map, your only objective is to leave any and all adversaries in a burning pile of scrap metal before they get to you first. Accomplishing total domination of the battlefield requires quick thinking, fast reflexes, and a solid arsenal of devastating goodies. Also, youll have to possess a knack for adjusting the aim and trajectory of your artillery rounds in-between shots while being fired upon from all directions. Theres only one rule in Death Tank: kill or be killed.
Your tank cannon swivels upwards in 180 degrees, and you can slowly move left or right with your treads. Each shot you take leaves a realistic smoke arc across the screen, making it possible to make adjustments to the angle and power of your shot for a better chance at hitting your target with subsequent rounds assuming they dont up and move around on you. More powerful shots arc higher and are harder to aim, but they do more damage on impact. After firing, it takes a few seconds to reload, leaving you vulnerable to incoming rounds. The game isnt all about offense either; you can utilize the destructible terrain, limited movement, hover jets, and a force field to your advantage.
Though it may sound like theres a lot to keep track of, the controls are thankfully fluid and easy to grasp. The left thumb stick controls the aim and power of your shots, while the right lets you quick-select any weapons youve stocked up on. Hitting the L and R shoulder buttons slowly moves your tank left and right respectively holding both at the same time engages rocket thrusters to lift you into the air (when youve purchased them). The colored buttons can be used to trigger auto aim, give a boost of speed, and erect a temporary force field when those power-ups have been purchased.