Total space case
SpaceTanks sounds like a cool enough idea, in theory: drive around in futuristic tanks and blow up the computer-controlled opposition, or take on your very own friends in galactic military combat. Unfortunately, I don’t like having fun in theory.
Right away, you can’t help but notice that the controls are rather clunky, offering only a very rigid and imprecise grasp over the game world. More specifically, your movement in what should be a more deft vehicle is limited to the four four directions. This can be surely be enough to work with, if done well, but here it feels laborious as it bumps up frequently against the game’s expectations of what you should be doing.
Another part of the problem with moving around is that doing so reveals the way that nothing feels like it has any real weight to it. You drive around and shoot at the enemies and are shot at, but none of it feels like it has any real impact on you. No friction of combat; no sense of placement in a world. This is compounded by an enemy AI of which I can’t make heads or tails. When playing single-player, enemy tanks move aimlessly around the map firing off shots. All of the tanks tend to look the same, and, early enough on, even look just like your own. It’s difficult to tell whether they’re supposed to be fighting against one another or against you.
Regardless of the rivalries, these tanks don’t seem to have any sense of strategy, simply driving around like chickens with their heads cut off…big, mechanical, futuristic chickens. With artillery. The result is an experience where the difference between victory and defeat feels too much like happenstance for either one to matter; coincidences layered within flukes. Par for these parameters, if you omplete a stage, nothing really changes. You progress through “levels” with different numbers or different types of tanks, but the backdrop remains the same the whole time. As a result, there’s little sense of progression beyond the fire-and-upgrade routine.
Where the game might have shined is in its online multiplayer mode. However, as of this writing, we couldn’t find anyone using the title to test this theory. Note that this affects the rating, and feel free to add comments and assessments of multiplayer!
Wrapping it all together, however, is a regrettably clunky UI; a lack of clarity in the translations, an almost non-existed HUD, and muddled menus. Simply put, there’s very little to recommend here. What started as a title with the promise of tactical fun slowly revealed itself to be a non-effort hoping to sneak under players’ gaming radars. In that respect, I’d say it tanked pretty badly.