Tank Hunter
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9  |  Few Online Games Measure Up To This One
Darryl B. , 9/1/2005 9:34:08 PM
Wow. THIS is what gives online games a good reputation, rather than wondering why you didn't spend those two minutes waiting for a game to load to start rearranging your sock drawer, as it sucked so bad you couldn't stand to play it for more than 10 minutes (and/or the game turned out to be one of those millions of those copycat games where you have to match three balls of the same color in a row). Even though this is a more modern version of Battlezone (more on that later), this provides a lot of challenge and a lot of missions to keep you coming back time and time again to blow the snot out of your unnamed enemies' attack force.

After going to www.pogo.com and scrolling all the way down to the bottom right side of the screen under Arcade games to load this up (which is where it's currently located, at the time of this writing, among several other sites), if you're familiar with Ben Librojo's works, not only is Tank Hunter a more modern Battlezone, it's also an update of an earlier game of his called WarZone.

Like Battlezone, with it's vector graphics (a vanishing breed nowadays), FPS perspective, and gunning down tanks like Kirstie Alley loading up on calories at a restaurant buffet, WarZone put you in the midst of a battlefield with obstacles to hide behind and tanks to blow up left and right until you took 100% damage, thus ending your game (which you can check it out at http://www.gamegateway.com/out/game.php?GID=310).

However, with Tank Hunter -- complete with the old vector graphic looks (although here the enemies are green, the hills in the background are brown, the obstacles white, and the power-ups blue, rather than everything being green) -- even though the majority of the game does involve blowing up tanks (hence the name), what sets it apart from Battlezone and WarZone, rather than just being one long game (or a short one, if you're not very good to begin with), is that you get missions to accomplish with different objectives to complete, plus you also get power-ups as well. More on those later; first off, though, your enemies...

The majority of your nemesis' include tanks, which come in three [green vector graphic] flavors: regular tanks, which take one hit to destroy, super tanks, which take several, and phantom tanks, which disappear and re-appear at times, which are annoying. Usually they'll only appear when they have to fire a shot at you (like a Klingon Bird of Prey), then disappear just as quickly, like the person commanding it jury-rigged a clapper of a cloaking device (and a knock-off brand of it as well), having any loud noise on the battlefield make it go on and off.

There are also mines that are slow and float around, but they come in groups and are a pain to deal with, since one of them is usually going to ram your tank (and chip away at your armor) before you're able to destroy them all during a group attack. And even obstacles that you take cover behind can become a crutch as well, since, even with a radar showing you everything on the battlefield (except mines, and when those blasted phantom tanks are being a phantom menace), in the heat of battle, you might not notice at first that you're being shelled by an enemy tank because you're pressed up against an obstacle and can't move. Sarge, air-lift me outta here, I don't have that Aflac insurance!

However, helping you after randomly destroying enemies are power-ups, which a shield makes you invulnerable to enemy fire and mines for 10 seconds, while a laser increases the number of your onscreen shots for 15 seconds. A wrench will also repair some of the damage to your tank (which you'll also get a partial repair at the end of a wave as well), and all power-ups stay on the battlefield for quite some time (if you don't need them immediately) when they first appear.

Like I mentioned a few times already, there are many missions to go through, all of which are different (although they all involve blowing up the enemy). Sometimes you have to shoot a certain number of phantom tanks during a wave, sometimes super tanks, sometimes both. At other times, you have to just stay alive for a few minutes until you're air-lifted out of there (gee, THANKS guys! What're you doing up there in that helicopter as you're hovering above me, playing Halo? Drop a few bombs down here and there while you're at it! [Uh, at the enemies, I mean.]). Some waves have you collect a certain number of power-ups (fine with me!), and a later mission in particular pits you against an outdated army of tanks that have no power-ups at all; eep!

Unfortunately, that's about THE only gripe I have with this game: certain mission objectives. Ones that require a certain number of power-ups means that you could be in there for a long time, waiting for that one last power-up to appear, and it won't. Missions where you have to destroy up to THIRTY freakin' mines is a nightmare, as you keep on getting tanks...ok, I destroyed another tank, c'mon MINES! Nope, more tanks appeared on my radar; dammit! (Those are destroyed, then...) Argh! More tanks!, etc. These waves can go on for quite some time.

Other than that, the vector graphics are good, the controls are simple (use turning keys and press a button to fire, although you can also zoom in and out and pause the game and all), there's a lot to keep you busy (at least 19 missions, which I've never been able to either get to mission 20, or maybe the game ends if you complete the 19th), and the thundering sound effects will also keep you awake, to say the least, as I SWEAR I can almost feel my chair vibrating when those shells start smacking my tank around, like I've got some kind of built-in rumble pack! (I'd just blame that on my drug habit, except I don't have one of those.)

As I've said before with Space Fever, most rip-offs don't deserve a high rating, but this one does, every bit of it. And I don't really consider it a rip-off, either, it's more of an "enhancement".

To this day, years later, some ex-Atari employees still can't put their name up in company directories on websites, due to rabid Atari fans finding out where they are and bombarding them with e-mails, as the fans can't understand that the video game crash, Jack Tramiel, and/or the severe ups and downs of the video game industry left such a bad taste in their mouth (the employees) that they don't want to talk about those days, and to be left alone.

Personally, in general, as far as "video game celebrities" (I guess you could call them) go, I could care less; sure, I'd like to have a chat with anyone who had something to do with the Vectrex, Telesys (who only made six 2600 games, but they were interesting spin-offs of other games), Starpath (with their excellent Supercharger), programmer David Crane, and whoever it is that made the 2600 game Tunnel Runner (see, I don't even know what his name IS!), and that's about it. If I'm ever at some gaming expo where I ask who the fat old guy is sitting at a table with a line out the door of people waiting to get his autograph, and someone says it's ______ programmer, who made _____ game, I'm probably going to shrug and head on over to the arcade.

But I'd also like to shake Librojo's hand and commend him on his excellent vector graphic game as well.

And with my very short list of gaming icons I'd like to meet, I think that pretty much says it all right there. 9/10

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