I played the second BattleTanx before the first, but that hardly seems relevant as both games are very similar, and very fun. I actually prefer the original because the graphics are more colorful, the locales are more interesting, and the focus on arcade style gameplay is more apparent. I also think that the game is significantly harder. It seemed like in the sequel every time you died you could just jump right back in, in this game you have a certain number of lives and it's a game over.
So the game centers around you going around in your tank and blowing stuff up. Unlike in the sequel, there is I think only one tank to choose from, meaning no choices, which is fine since in the sequel you would want to use the main tank over the other ones 100% of the time anyway. The Campaign's 17 stages are for the most part easy, although the last three or four can be kind of a struggle. It's still significantly harder than the sequel, and there is a hard mode if the game gets to be too easy after that.
For an old game, I'm impressed at the design. There are multiple factions of tanks rolling around blowing you up, you yourself can blow up any number of things including buildings, trees, tanks, turrets, the list goes on. Not only that, but blowing things up sends the debris flying in all directions. You've got a ton of powerups too. There's your basic missile, land mines, a guided missile (It functions a bit like the Nikita from Metal Gear Solid and controls great) a nuke (Yeah, a nuke) a laser, and health packs you can use to just jolt your health up. The game also gives you shields, which are cool because if the objective is to cross a bridge (Three stages make you do this) you can grab a shield and quickly rush across to the exit like a boss.
The level designs are repetitive, but it's tolerable. Some stages give you a turret to control as well, these work out in the bonus stages too. The game's point-based system works because the higher your score the more extra lives you get, and it seems like this is a cumulative number that stays when you get a game over. The tank controls good, but you can't control the top apart from the bottom. Newer games have real tank controls, with the top of the tank sort of being delayed so you can make precision shots while strafing with the tank treads. In this game the tank just controls like a car. You can jump to first person, which helps in blowing up enemies. The objectives are simple. You have rescue missions, missions where you cross bridges, missions where you blow everything up, and missions where you rescue maidens and bring them back to your base.
The rescue missions are by far the hardest and this game actually does require strategy to finish it. You can, for example, leave a pile of mines sitting in front of your base while you collect the maidens, or just move slowly and pragmatically, blowing everything up as you go along. The graphics look good for what they are. I mean they're not high resolution but the explosions are great, and just about everything explodes. There is something so satisfying about games where you shoot a building and it comes crumbling down, and even for the primitive and limited hardware, it's a lot of fun. Overall, I recommend this game as it's got a lot going for it if you are interested in tank games, or just blowing things up in general.
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