|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|
Scorched Earth was a turn-based game where strategy and firepower mixed with trajectory physics and brainpower in explosive, bombardment-style warfare. Death Tank utilizes almost the exact same concept, but everything plays out in real time. This makes for a decidedly more intense and frantic experience.
The gameplay is designed for fast and furious matches. Most rounds take between 15 and 30 seconds to complete. Beyond that, youll rarely find more than two tanks remaining. If players are still alive after a short time, an orbital bombardment will commence, randomly dropping explosives around the map to speed the death-dealing process along. The basic reward for your killing prowess comes in the form of cold hard cash thats used in-between rounds to purchase more powerful implements of destruction. Each weapon has its own creative uses, from direct-fire machine gun blasts, nukes, and mines that roll down hill to MIRVs and the Deaths Hand that blossoms in mid-air and rains a cascade of explosives on victims.
The games eight different maps are beautifully crisp and packed with cool particle effects and destructible terrain. From wind-swept dunes and stormy mountaintops to snow-laden arctic glaciers and oceanfront ridges, the hills and valleys are a perfect setting for the bombardment to commence. Each blast will slowly chip away at the hilltops, gradually leveling the playing field and creating additional variation in the terrain through craters and valleys. Though the tanks are small on screen, theyre very animated. The rest of the visual and lighting effects are excellent. Extra touches added-in to make the environments pop help distract you from the fact that each level is essentially a straightforward mountaintop of some kind.
Death Tanks main shortcoming is its sparse solo offerings. It falls horribly short as a single-player experience. You can play in sets of 20-round matches against bots of varying ability (a good way to practice starting out), but this gets boring quickly. The real thrill is in playing against other humans, and its easy to get lost in the competitive spirit for hours on end. Facing off against three other friends on the same system or playing online via XBLA is where youll squeeze the most enjoyment out of the game and really get your moneys worth.
Gamers who grew up with Scorched Earth and its numerous turn-based artillery clones may find Death Tank provides a perfect dose of old-school nostalgia with a modern twist. Theres not a ton of depth in the package, and the $15 price tag seems steep, but frantically blowing away opponents is addictive enough to elicit numerous return trips to the mountains for more carnage. Shave a few dollars of the price and this game would feel like a perfect example of an excellent XBLA title. In the end its still worth the investment, just be sure to bring some friends along for the ride.
CCC Staff Contributor