By Contributing Writer Jimmy Payne Rating: Average (Cue Jaws music) Just when you thought it was safe to start playing Nintendo 64 games again... you play BattleTanx and wonder why you ever forgot about the dozens of N64 games that have disappointed you in the past (OK, cut the music). BattleTanx's ingenious commercial (in which Snuggles the Bear was set on fire and run over by tanks) was great, but the game isn't half as good as the commercial. BattleTanx features 17 levels in which your mission is to basically go around blowing up other tanks and destroying enemy bases. It sounds fun at first, and it is fun at first, but in the long run youíll be wishing that you forgot your wallet at home and were never able to buy the game. It took me only four hours to beat the game on the default difficulty setting, and one of those hours went to just getting the feel of the game. If longevity is something you value in a game, you should stay far away from this title. While playing you have the choice of piloting one of three tanks for certain missions. First up is the lightweight Moto Tank, which is really fast, but has below average handling. The second choice is the medium tank, called the M1A1 Abrams. This tank is the best choice for beginners since it isnít too slow, and has much better handling than the Moto Tank. The third and final tank is called the Goliath, which as the name implies, is one big hunk of metal with enough firepower to level a building. The only downside to using the Goliath is its extremely slow speed, which makes it a sitting duck if a Moto Tank can sneak up behind it. After playing with all three tanks, I can tell you that they are balanced very well, and this is one of the two factors that kept this game from getting a Crappy rating. I'm not really sure why Iím going to tell you about the story line in BattleTanx, but if it bothered me enough to have an urge to do so, then by golly, youíre gonna hear about it! First of all, the story line is pointless. I kept thinking to myself while playing this game, "For the love of God, just let me skip through this pointless text so I can blow up some freakiní buildings!" Well, it went something like that, but Iím pretty sure there was some profanity mixed in with it. One of the reasons the story is so pointless is because itís about as generic as it gets. Hereís my rendition of the plot in short: The year is 2001. You are Griffin Spade, a lone warrior who survived the terrible explosion that killed off almost all of the women on Earth. Yielding a futuristic tank, you must travel across the barren wasteland that was at one time your home, fending off evil and trying to bring good back to the planet. Oh yeah... youíre also trying to find your one true love. OK, someone gag me now. Moving right along, the multi-player mode in BattleTanx is the only thing that keeps the game alive after you have beaten the single-player mode. There are three games you can play in multi-player mode. The first is your basic deathmatch mode in which you search out and destroy your enemies. Next is BattleLord mode, in which you try to capture everybody else's QueenLords. Quake and GoldenEye players will most likely recognize this mode as a seriously disturbed version of Capture the Flag, only much less entertaining. The final multi-player option is called Annihilation mode, which is basically deathmatch except you donít regenerate when youíre killed, and the last tank standing (or rolling) is the winner. One nice little point about this game's multi-player mode is that when three people are playing, one of them gets half of the screen to himself instead of having the screen split in four with one fourth empty. This feature was sadly missing in a slew of other N64 multi-player games. Another cool thing about BattleTanx is the wide array of weapons at your disposal. For instance, thereís a hand-guided missile, much like in Metal Gear Solid, which has incredible control. It's loads of fun guiding your missile through alleys and then hitting your clueless opponent, who didnít even see it coming. This may all sound fine and dandy, but BattleTanx has some serious problems. One major one that canít be forgiven is the physics of the tanks. The developers had an important decision to make while bringing this game to life. They could either make the game realistic, which means the tanks have to be slow, or they could make the tanks fast for the sake of pure fun. Well, since the market is so bent on realism these days, they chose to make the tanks slow. When youíre playing the game and you find a tank, it basically comes down to who's the strongest. And donít even think about running, because the other tank will just blow you up from behind if you try. So what this builds up to is whoever can collect the most power-ups and then totally demolish the other (less fortunate) tank in a showdown. Thereís no skill involved. Just run around collecting power-ups and weapons and hope to God that you have more than your opponent. BattleTanx is the best tank game available for the Nintendo 64. Unfortunately, thatís not saying much because it's the only tank game available for the Nintendo 64. Its short single-player game and flawed multi-player game prevent it from living up to its massive potential. If youíre a first-person shooter fanatic and love tanks, you might enjoy BattleTanx. For everyone else, renting BattleTanx before making a risky purchase would be the smartest thing to do.
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