Hands On Preview - Mad Tanks
There are a lot of things that help when trying to stand out from the pack with a new App, but if you're going to do something that has come before at least try to be "the whole package". Mad Tanks by Joystick Ninjas will be hitting the App Store soon and will be competing for ground in the Scorched-Earth-meets-Worms genre stakes.
Gameplay comes in two flavors, the first being typically round-based and awarding players with cash after each round for more weaponry to pummel their opponents faces with. However, the second available mode is what could have made Mad Tanks truly intriguing.
'Tactics' as it's called consists of a set limit of turns that each player can take, one after the other, before the game ends. Damage is accumulated, but doesn't destroy vehicles - basically it's a test to see who can pull up the biggest figures by the end of the game. This inspires some truly devious gameplay, including attempting to "double up" your opponents for twice the bang for your buck. Sadly this mode feels tacked on and is an interesting, but otherwise unrealized game to enjoy.
There are 10 available weapons to purchase at the beginning of rounds and range from the standard "nuke" to more up-close flavor weapons like the laser and the flamethrower. The variety of weapons can feel limiting (especially when they need to be purchased), but it also gives them more of a proper 'special weapon' vibe so they're saved for truly humiliating destructive purposes. Firing requires a lot of zen-like "feeling" to repeat previous shots as you hold down to determine the power, but aiming is well implemented with touch and slide-bar controls made available.
The levels are varied, with great ground textures and backgrounds, but the lack of special effects like ground discoloration, cartoonish explosions or even background debris makes the game feel unfinished.
Computer AI ranges in difficulty from stupid to god-like, but there's enough "stupidity" programmed in to keep the game competitive.
Mad Tanks is a great time-waster that brings Scorched Earth with a 'lite' vibe to the iPhone. Joystick Ninjas have already acknowledged some of the short-comings, so possible that many of these features will be overhauled by the game's release.
Mad Tanks by Joystick Ninjas is scheduled for release on March 26th.