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Tank Beat Review

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Developer: O~3 Entertainment Publisher: O~3 Entertainment
Release Date: May 29, 2007 Also On: None

Tank Beat is the first Nintendo DS game to focus solely on action-packed tank battles. O3 Entertainment’s game packs credentials like Nintendo Wi-Fi Connectivity, 3D graphics, and stylus control mechanics but it doesn’t deliver in the more important areas of video game design.

First and foremost, Tank Beat just isn’t very interesting. Tank Beat fails to captivate with its storyline, which is a generic means of getting the player into tank battles. Vill Vitt, a young tank commander, joins a tank militia and must try to defend his homeland against invading enemies. He meets some other characters, but they fill very stereotypical and simple roles in the plot. The story mode sends the player on 30 missions that feature both offensive and defensive objectives. Unfortunately, at no point in the storyline does dealing with the dull visuals and awkward stylus control feel valuable or rewarding. Also, some missions (especially near the beginning) are so short that they are over almost just as quickly as they begin. Some, on the other hand, seem impossible after the slightest error. There is no balance to speak of.

To really discuss the controls, one must take into consideration the way that missions generally play out. More often than not, Vill’s tank is placed a short distance from enemies or targets, and the player must draw a path on the touch screen to move toward enemies or targets. Once Vill is in range of enemies, the player can hold down the DS’ left trigger to initiate “fire” mode. By tapping the enemy’s blip on the touch screen radar, Vill will fire. This means that, between the action on the top screen and the controlling on the bottom screen, the player will have to look up and down a lot. This makes steering and firing at enemies a tedious affair. Double this frustration when you start commanding allies, and the end experience just isn’t entertaining at all. It is just too darn bad that the overall experience is so broken; Tank Beat could have been much better if its gears turned smoothly.

The stylus mechanics and game design clash occasionally. For example, drawing paths for allies is simple, but oftentimes the ally being controlled will stop moving for no apparent reason. The actual commands (attack, defend Vill, defend specific location) don’t always work well, either. In fact, in my experience, the only effective way to control allied units was to draw their route, command them to attack, and hope for the best. This sort of inaccurate control is hardly sufficient when there is more than a small pack of enemies on the radar, which happens constantly as the storyline plays out. The radar itself is clumsy to use because enemies aren’t always displayed on the map, and controlling the camera with the stylus is sluggish and unresponsive. As a final note, boss fights are incredibly annoying. Allied units frequently get themselves killed very quickly by not following orders, which always results in a failed mission.

Tanks are unlocked throughout the storyline and can be used in the DS-to-DS and Wi-Fi multiplayer modes, but the multiplayer isn’t much more interesting than the story mode. Even more often than in single player, multiplayer battles turn into circle-strafing competitions where the player with better accuracy almost always wins. Still, if there are people who manage to enjoy Tank Beat, they will find it gracious that there is a multiplayer option on top of the 30 single-player missions.

Visually, Tank Beat fails on almost all accounts. The tanks are blocky and, for whatever reason, aren’t colored in realistic colors. The environments are almost bare at times, with small structures and set pieces that are even blockier than the tanks. Explosions are grainy and pixilated, and there is absolutely no remaining rubble after a tank or enemy unit is destroyed. Characters are designed in a very generic anime style; Vill looks like every other run-of-the-mill protagonist. Finally, if Tank Beat must be played, it should be played on mute. The sound effects are generic and the limited voice acting is incredibly annoying, although the allied units will sometimes tell you where enemy tanks are coming from.

Overall, Tank Beat is a DS game that fails to entertain because of frustrating control mechanics, inept allied units, and visuals that simply don’t look any good. The wireless multiplayer options are impressive for such an under-the-radar title, but it is hard to justify spending the cash to play a boring multiplayer mode. Tank Beat would have fit in the 2004 DS launch lineup, but in 2007, it is nothing special and therefore not worth your time or money.

Graphics: 3
Sound: 4
Gameplay: 4
Creativity: 2
Replay Value/Game Length: 6
Final: 3.8
Written by Cliff Review Guide