iPhone Life magazine

Review: Tank Raider by Sunday Studios

I tend to like tank games, because at a base level they all tend to involve blowing things up.  Tank Raider is no exception, except it throws the convention of collecting gems into the mix.  In theory that should make the game more fun, but it tends to make it more tedious instead.  Add to that controls that aren’t real conducive to fast action, and what could be a nice change from the run of the mill tank game feels like a bit of a mess instead.  It’s certainly not a terrible mess, but it doesn’t stand out like it could, either.
The game is comprised of a series of levels.  On each level there are four tanks that each has a base with two guns.  Your task is to retrieve as many gems as you can and bring them back to your base.  Gems can be found lying around, you can take them from a destroyed tank, or you can steal them from another tank’s base.  Of course, the other tanks can do the same to you, so watch out.  You can only carry 5 gems at a time, so you need to watch your cargo and head back as soon as you are full.  Once you get back to your base you can offload the gems and start over again.  If you get killed you will automatically return to your base without any of the gems you were carrying.  While at your base you can refuel your energy, so be prepared to head back when you’re close to death as well.

A Winter Wonderland?The continual traipsing back and forth to your base is a large part of the tedium.  It would be nice if once you’ve collected five gems they could just be back at your base.  Additionally, it might be nice to have the occasional health pack to lengthen the amount of time it takes before you need to head home.  The game really needs some sort of power ups as well.  Something that allows you to temporarily mow through trees or take out an enemy tank in one shot would be nice, for example.  Right now there just isn’t a whole lot to the game, which means playing more than one or two levels gets rather repetitive.  A multi-player mode would be great too, and certainly be more interesting than the computer AI.

The controls are interesting but far from ideal.  To move your tank you swipe where you want it to go.  Personally, I’d rather just tap.  I realize tapping is what you use to attack something, but obviously the game would know whether you tapped on an enemy or tree versus tapping on the ground or your base and react accordingly.  A “return to base” button would be great as well.  Not that you’d automatically go back to base, but at least it would guide your tank in the right direction and allow you to focus on attacking the enemy.  Swiping is nice for a line drawing game, which in some ways is what this feels like, but line drawing isn’t really good for games that need to be action oriented.

Visually the game reminds me very much of a 16 bit Sega Genesis game, which is actually pretty cool.  I was always fond of that era of graphics.  The backgrounds are nicely detailed, the tanks look decent, and there are nice little touches like smoldering leftovers when you demolish a tank or gun.  The audio isn’t quite so impressive.  The sound effects are fine for the most part, albeit somewhat plain.  The fairy type sounds that relate to the jewels seem a bit odd.  There really isn’t any music except for a dramatic little ditty that plays when you invade another player’s base.  The game needs more music.

Tank Raider is one of those games that to me feels more like a prototype than a full fledged game.  Sure what’s there isn’t bad, but there isn’t a whole lot there.  Multi-player mode and different game play modes would go a long way towards beefing this game up.  The way it stands right now there’s not a whole lot of incentive to keep coming back, especially when a slip in your ranking (which isn’t hard to do with only four places) causes the game to be over.  With all the tank game available, there isn’t much to make Tank Raider stand above the crowd.

Overall Score: 5/10
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Eric Pankoke has been a gamer for more than 20 years. He began with arcade games, moving to consoles and eventually handhelds and Pocket PCs. Now he spends most of his time on one of his iOS devices. Eric has written more than 700 gaming reviews, which have appeared on a number of gaming websites as well as several issues of both Smartphone & Pocket PC and iPhone Life magazines. He regularly contributes to iphonelife.com and TouchMyApps. Ultimately he hopes to eventually develop games himself for whatever the hot mobile device is when he finally gets moving.