The year is 2006. Five years ago the apocalypse released the X2 virus which killed most of the world's women -- the female population became almost extinct. In an effort born of panic and self-preservation, the governments of the world rounded up the remaining women to hide and protect them. This led to rioting which eventually led to a nuclear war that ravaged 50% of the world. Governments collapsed and bands of survivors came together to form tribes and gangs. Women in these tribes and gangs are now called Queenlords and have become almost sacred. You, Griffin Spade, acquired a M1A1 tank somewhere in all of this, have formed your own tribe, and have rescued your wife, Madison, from the government's secret "relocation." Now you have a son, Brandon, and at this point keeping him safe is the most important thing in the world to both you and Madison. This will become difficult, however, as those nightmares you've been having recently about an evil Queenlord abducting your son are about to come true...
The concept of this game is relatively simple: you drive one of many different kinds of tanks in an effort to defeat your enemies. Some missions require annihilating all enemies that come at you, others require you to escort other tanks, get from point A to point B, or rescue hostages. Getting through each mission is not always a question of who has the most firepower, but rather who knows how to use it properly. The firepower in this game is very widely diversified. There are 11 different tanks that can be used. Each has very definite strengths and weaknesses. Some are quick and weak while others are very slow and very strong with everything in between. Some have the ability to strafe or flip over their sides. All tanks have a primary weapon, which is usually a machine gun, shells, or a flame-thrower. There is also a wide variety of special weapons available to you. These range from mines and Bouncing Betties (mines that float in the air and rain lasers on passers by) to grenades to plasma bolts to various types of missiles and even a nuclear warhead. I particularly liked the guided missile as I could control exactly where I want it to go. These are great for corners. Other items include the turbo boost, health, shields, radar, teleporter, and one item called The Edge that will either stun or, in some cases, capture enemy tanks so you can turn them against your enemy!
The tanks themselves all handle very responsively (or as responsively as a tank can handle, anyway). In fact, these tanks handle better than you would expect a real tank to handle which I felt made the game more exciting and fun. There are several different control configurations that allow you to set up simple controls to more complicated functions. This allows players of many different experience levels to effectively play the game. There are also three difficulty levels to suit your handicap (or lack of one) even more. I felt the difficulty levels were a little harder than they should have been for each level. The gameplay is simple enough that you should be able to get the hang of it fairly quickly.
How many tanks you can use depends on how many Tank Bucks you have. Each tank you take into battle costs a certain amount. Typically, the better the tank, the pricier it is. After using these tanks you will likely choose a favorite or figure out which work better in certain situations. Tank Bucks are earned by either picking them up or by obtaining 10,000 points (yes, there are still games that use points, believe it or not). When your tank is destroyed, you use the Tank Bucks to purchase another and continue your mission until you're out of Tanks and Bucks or until you finish the game.
The interface is pretty standard. If you can read, you should have no problems with it. There are several modes of gameplay that range from the Campaign (main story) game to specific types of missions such as protecting convoys or rescuing hostages. These other missions can also be played with up to four players simultaneously (depending on the number of controllers connected to the system) on a split screen. The multiplayer game plays essentially the same as the single player.
This game contains the long lost feature of passwords. In case you don't have a Controller Pak, or if it's full, you can write down the password and continue later on where you left off. I was impressed with the addition of this feature as well as being able to use the Controller Pak. The game also makes good use of the Rumble Pak.
The graphics are a little above standard for an N64 game (unfortunately the screenshots we managed to get really do not do it justice). The general look of the game has a nice bright atmosphere and is a little crisper than many other N64 games. The effects from explosions or smoke streams from passing missiles are very nice. Each different style of tank is simple enough to differentiate, however, at times it is a bit difficult to tell if they are friendly or enemy tanks unless you have radar. The oddest graphic in the game is that people appear on the battlefield as only heads floating in midair. This makes it a little harder to locate them without radar if there is a lot of action on screen.
The audio is pretty standard for an N64 game. For the most part, this is a pretty loud game (whoever heard of a quiet tank battle?). While music does play in the background during the missions, you typically won't hear it over the sound effects. Nothing groundbreaking in this department, but nothing bad either.
System Features Supported
Controller Save Pak, Rumble Pak, and four player simultaneous.
While you can certainly figure out the basics of the game by yourself, you will definitely miss some stuff if you don't read the manual. It shows you how to make good use of certain weapons, such as the guided missile and tanks. When you get a chance, check it out.
Overall, this is a fun game right out of the box. While it does have some level of complication, it's simple enough to enjoy immediately out of the box. It has nice graphics and sound, which are always a plus when trying to enjoy a game. The multiplayer options ensure the replayability of this game for quite some time. I found virtually nothing to gripe about in this game which is why I happily give it a score of 87.