|Min OS X: 10.4 CPU: G4 @ 700 MHz|
Recently, after work, I went a few doors down to a new bar with interesting ambiance. In addition to a good tap selection and service, the front part of the bar had a classic home arcade setup complete with a SNES, Atari 2600, and Atari 5200! I challenged my co-worker to a few battles of Combat, in the tank-versus-tank warfare mode. Despite the two dimensional graphics and mono sound, it was still as fun as I remember it when I was a little tike. It reminded me once again that the only thing that really makes a game entertaining is gameplay. Everything else is usually superficial frosting. When I downloaded Mountain Tanks for review, I was hoping that rule would hold true.
Mountain Tanks is based on a simple premise. You can play against to one to fives tanks on a battlefield with an array of armaments to destroy each others' home city, usually located slightly behind the defending tank. The tanks cannot move; and they cannot be destroyed, although they can be disoriented with a hit from another thank. This leaves the strategy to a turn based, shot-versus-shot race to see which tank can destroy their opponent's city first with artillery bombardment. You do have an array of weapons to fire at the other city including rockets, smokescreen bombs, grenades which bounce around like ping pong balls when they hit, exploding barrels that can be blown up with your next shot, and a defensive shot which erects a wall where it lands to block opponents shots. Once you zero in with the right velocity and trajectory, it usually takes about twenty to thirty rounds until one side completely decimates the others city. You rinse and repeat to your heart's desire.
GraphicsWhile Mountain Tanks exists in a three dimensional universe with various camera angles to choose from, it is about as plain and bleak as you can get. Just about the only textures are on the tank, the buildings, and the artillery shells themselves. The explosions are as simple as they are uninspiring. There isn't much visual satisfaction when a skyscraper goes down to your well placed bombardment. Take a look at the screenshots to see what I'm talking about.
SoundThere are minimal sound effects too. It fits the graphic presentation I guess. There is hardly much at all worth mentioning except the soundtrack. I do have to give thumbs up to the music, a well produced orchestral number. It better be good, because it's the only one you'll hear; and it can not be turned off.
GameplayHad this game came out twenty years ago, it might have had some staying power. Unfortunately for Mountain Tanks, there is little here to recommend. Once you figure out how to lob artillery into the other city, there isn't much strategic thinking involved. Smokebombs and walls don't hold off the enemy more than a shot or two and it takes a bit of time or luck to make those worth your effort. It gets slightly more interesting if you have a full compliment of six players in one game, but finding other people to play is a hard sell; and the A.I. doesn't make an interesting opponent, although it does avoid dogpiling on you from the start.
VerdictIf you haven't already guessed, I'm going to have to put the kibosh on this one. If you are looking for a tank-versus-tank battle, pick up Think Tanks or find that old Atari 2600 in your parent's basement and play some Combat. I hate being so harsh on independent developers like Battery Acid Games, but Mountain Tanks is weak. Between the stale presentation and sound effects, weird graphic glitches, occasional game crashes (on my PowerBook G4 at least), and shallow strategic play, Mountain Tanks doesn't warrant purchase.