I am embarrassingly tardy with this review, but the reasoning is actually good news and worth mentioning. I had been playing mTanks on my iPod Touch but then the kids got out of school, we went on vacation, and I got busy getting my iPod Touch set up for my wife to use to read ebooks on vacation. Long story short, I forgot about the game completely. Before I finish the story, let’s see what this mTanks is all about:
4 days ago NASA’s Spirit rover discovered a growing army of tanks beneath the surface of Mars. The alien technology is far too advanced for even our latest weaponry to compete. Our only hope is to infiltrate the facility from within, using their technology against them. This is where you come in – your mission is to destroy the mTanks before they dispatch to Earth.
- 36 of the best weapons/abilities around
- multiple difficulties
- unlockable levels
- localised online high scores; producing massive challenge, variety and replay value!
So back to the story: what reminded me of mTanks was that my kids had ended up borrowing my iPod Touch over our vacation since it is 32GB and I let them add extra movies to watch on the drive, and of course it is loaded up with a couple GB of apps! At the end of vacation my younger son asked about adding mTanks to his iPod Touch since they had so much fun playing it.
One thing I love about small indie game developers is their ability to take a singular idea and really make it come to life in a unique way. Games like Doodle Jump have shown this … and now we have mTanks, a nifty new look at the top-down tank battle game.
The game has a simple premise – enter a level and destroy all of the other tanks.
Of course, there is more to the game than just that. As you progress you gain new weapons, and also unlock new ability levels which allow even more options to battle the mTanks! There are loads of options that will keep you returning to the game to continue the simple yet challenging fun.
The levels have walls made of solid materials and generally also include sections that can be destroyed with weapons. Using both of these to your advantage is critical. Your enemies will move around, so getting the first shot or two before they can fire can mean the difference between life and death.
You move by tilting your iPhone, and aim and shoot your weapons by touching and releasing the screen in the direction you want to fire.
When you start, all you have is a simple needle gun primary weapon. As you progress from stage to stage you get new weapons. These include things such as laser weapons and rocket launchers. Your enemies get these weapons, and it is critical to understand how they work in terms of environmental damage and area of effect.
At higher difficulties you gain secondary weapons. These are a typical array of grenade-type weapons, but can be devastating. Rather than the tap & release technique you use to fire the primary weapons, secondary weapons are tossed using a flick motion. This ‘just feels right’ for the grenade type weapons and quickly becomes second nature.
At the highest difficulties you gain Abilities and Impairers. Abilities are things such as ‘slowing time’ that will give you a tactical advantage over your increasingly-more-powerful enemies. Impairers, on the other hand, are skills you gain that will inhibit actions on the part of your enemies. These include things such as delaying the reload of their weapons, narrowing their field of view, and so on.
Having four possible actions along with the need to move and aim sounds like a lot of stuff – and it is! In order to do everything here are your actions:
- Primary Weapon: Touch to aim, release to shoot
- Primary Weapon: Flick to launch
- Ability: Two-finger touch to use
- Impairer: Three-finger touch to release
Surprisingly enough, it all works! Sure your hand and screen gets a bit busy by the time you have four possible actions on top of tilting your iPod Touch around to move, but each one works quite well. I barely ever misfired, and was always able to see well enough that I never got killed because my hands were all over the place (which I had issues with when playing games like Air Hockey!)
mTanks works off of a free demo (Lite version) with in-game ability to buy the full game. Personally I think the game is worth several dollars – my kids certain agree as it is a fave of their to fall back to playing on occasion. It is fun, it is easy to learn, yet the challenge scales nicely across all levels and difficulty settings. Definitely pick up the demo and give it a try – chances are you’ll quickly want to grab the full game!
Where to Buy: iTunes App Store
Price: Free Lite version
What I Like:
+ Simple fun
+ Controls work well
+ Loads of options as you progress
What Needs Improvement:
- By the time you gain Abilities and Impairers you will have tied your hands into knots all over your screen!