Among hidden gems in the rough, this diamond would be the one in foot-high grass under a pile of cow manure. But sticking your hand in a week-old cowpie is worth the mad dash to the sink to pull this stone into the open once more.
The game centers around sentient tanks kind of like Thomas the Tank Engine (or Theodore Tugboat for you maple leaves) except without faces. Despite being machines of war, the tanks just want to live in peace, but have had to build a rebel army to overthrow the evil empire Q-Stein, the opposing government. There is a good bit of creativity involved, including a variety of different parts such as treads, engines, weapons, and even water and air transport parts. Not to mention a very large selection of base tanks to use.
The game features a decent level of customization sort of like a Front Mission title except with more colorful, diverse guns, and interesting parts. Weight is an issue, and you have to choose an engine with enough power to move under the weight of your selected weapons. This is the first flaw in this game and it’s very annoying if you don’t fix it. If your tank weighs too much it will slow down, once you pack on enough ordinance it will slow to a crawl AND THE ENGINE WILL START SQUEALING LIKE MICE IN A VICE. I can still hear it even though I haven’t played the game in two years, it’s the most awful sound I think I’ve ever heard besides the grinding my failing hard drive does.
You will fight a variety of enemy tanks, and sometimes different guns work better than others. There are a few boss fights, and a four to five hour story. I really wish they’d made the game a bit longer, with more locations but the story is pretty simple. The driving force once again is gameplay, it seems as though the best games have fun gameplay WHO KNEW!? The controls are nice if a bit wonky when aiming. If you beat the game you get wings! Yes, your tank will flap them gracefully as you fly through the air on your second playthough. The end boss is kind of bizarre but not really a challenge. Speaking of challenge there is a challenge mode and arena mode for split screen action which is the only difficult part of the game.
Part of the reason people will overlook this game is the box art. It looks like a normal, boring tank/military game. After I actually played it, I pondered why they would make such dull box art for a game that simply isn’t a normal game by any standards.
Honestly, the game is charming and interesting, but short. While it has decent replayability, it’s not amazing. If you see this game for a few bucks in a second-hand game store, or you find it on Amazon for cheap, I would encourage you to give it a go. Just don’t move boulders looking for the thing, it won’t completely turn your views on gaming on their ear.
Note: One more game politic article will be released and then I promise I’ll lay off them for a while. After that, it’s straight reviews.