You’d have to be pretty desperate to trust an asylum patient named Johny Psycho with a billion dollar prototype tank, but that’s just what the military does in TankBlitz. While they consider Johny to be a delusional nut-job due to certain incidents, such as trying to take on a battleship with just his tank, he is still the most skilled tank commander that they’ve ever had. The reason why the military is even considering letting Johny out of the asylum and near their expensive hardware is an extremist calling himself Hanibal. In addition to being wanted for crimes against humanity, Hannibal has also taken over a small island nation in the Pacific, where he is busy constructing himself a small army. As Johny, you are given control of a tank and sent out on your own to take down Hannibal by any means necessary.
TankBlitz is a game that clearly doesn’t take its story very seriously, but it does provide a rather humorous excuse to go on a rampage. Thankfully, it takes its action very seriously, so you can expect plenty of mayhem in the twelve levels, spread out over four chapters. Initially you only have access to one tank, the Venom, but as you make progress, three additional ones become available. Each tank has its own strengths and weaknesses and while they all have the same primary weapons, all of them have different special upgrades. While twelve levels might not sound like much, you can replay each one as many times as you want and there are three difficulty levels to choose from, which can be adjusted before starting a level. Selecting a higher difficulty rewards you with more cash and war-bonds, the two commodities that are used to upgrade your tanks in this game. You’ll definitely want to replay a few levels as not only is it a lot of fun to return to earlier levels with a more powerful tank, but you’ll also need all the cash you can get to fully upgrade your vehicle.
TankBlitz is an arcade style blaster that is viewed from a top down perspective, so don’t expect anything resembling realism. Instead, you have 50 different types of enemies, all with a single purpose; turning your tank into a smoking pile of scrap. Along the way you’ll also encounter a few bosses that will try to stop you dead in your tracks. However, after a couple of upgrades your enemies won’t know what hit them as you turn your tank into a nimble, bullet and missile spewing weapon of mass destruction.
Visually TankBlitz reminds us of early arcade games and also brought back some fond memories of the Sensible Software classic, Cannon Fodder. Unfortunately, when played on a large, high resolution monitor, the graphics tend to become a little fuzzy. The game only provides the option to play windowed or in fullscreen, so there appears to be no way to manually adjust the resolution. You can also choose between low, medium and high graphics, or allow the game to auto-adjust the graphics quality for optimal performance.
Tucked away behind the “advanced settings” menu is the option to tweak anti-aliasing, particles and enable features such as dynamic shadows, persistent debris, track marks and screen shake. Maxing out everything does make the game look better, but it won’t be enough to impress gamers expecting cutting edge visuals. A closer look does reveal lots of neat touches, though, such as enemy soldiers going down in puddles of blood, buildings getting blown to bits and some great enemy vehicle designs. The character designs used for the comic book style cut-scenes are also quite nice and while not cutting edge, the visuals definitely have charm.
It’s rather hard to judge the soundtrack of the game as there is usually so much gunfire and explosions happening at all times that the music is lost in the noise. This is not necessarily a bad thing for an action packed game like TankBlitz and the audio levels can be adjusted by players who prefer to tone down the sound effects in favor of the music. It is a pity that the game doesn’t feature any speech as at some points during missions, characters will pop up with things to say, but usually there is too much shooting going on to read what it is. The controls are straightforward, with WASD taking care of your tank movement while the mouse is used for aiming and shooting. You can switch between your four weapons on the fly using the scroll-wheel and the keyboard is used for activating special abilities. While the pace of the game is frantic, you can’t just hold down the fire button and blow up everything in your path either. Firstly, your weapons all have limited ammunition and secondly each of your primary weapons requires you to pay attention to how you use them. The longer you fire the machine gun the faster it shoots, but without a break for it to cool down it will overheat and briefly jam. The cannon on the other hand has to be manually reloaded after a few shots, which requires you to hit the fire button at just the right time. Failure results in the cannon briefly jamming while success rewards you with a supercharged shot. Even the mortar requires you to keep an eye on a small indicator to successfully land your shots. It can be tricky to keep track of all of this in the heat of battle, but with time it becomes second nature.
Completing missions and destroying enemies rewards you with cash, which can be spent on the multitude of upgrades that are available for each of your tanks. These range from boosting your primary weapons, to other aspects, such as health, engines, tracks, armor, targeting and more. Unfortunately, not everything can be bought with cash as some upgrades require war bonds. These are only earned by successfully fulfilling certain criteria, like completing a mission on a harder difficulty level or earning achievements. The good news is that ordinary cash can be exchanged for war bonds at a rate of $10k for 10 war bonds, so you won’t have to grind too much to get the upgrades you want. Speaking of upgrades, each of the tanks have some unique ones that ensures that you’ll want to take them all for a spin. So while the Venom only has heat-seeking missiles and extra starting ammo as upgrade options, the other tanks get a lot more interesting. Take the Tempest that can be upgraded to self repair while shooting or replace the bullets in your minigun with lasers that don’t consume any ammo as long as your shields are intact. Then there is the Mammoth that can be equipped with nuclear missiles and the Zenith that has space for it’s own Tesla tower! It is thanks to these upgrades that we kept playing the game long after defeating the final boss and continued to have a blast returning to earlier levels and conquering them on higher difficulty settings.
At the end of the day TankBlitz is not the longest or best looking game in the genre, but there’s no denying the sheer entertainment it offers. We would have loved to see a few more levels or some sort of randomization to make returning to previous levels a little less predictable, but despite this the game is still a lot of fun. It is definitely one of those titles that are easy to pick up and play, but once you are hooked there’s no stopping until you’ve aced ever level and fully upgraded every tank.