Review by: Scott Steinberg
Published: January 5, 2000
Originally coming from a PC gaming background, I wasn’t expecting much from 3DO’s BattleTanx: Global Assault. After all, the vehicle-based shooter wasn’t exactly a popular genre for computer-oriented publishers nor a profitable one as titles such as Grolier’s Tank Racer proved when it lived up to its namesake and tanked heavily when it came to sales. Nevertheless, I’d heard good things about 3DO’s prominent N64 series and did get a few laughs out of the commercial in which the Snuggle bear gets the stuffing blown out of it. That being the case, I loaded it up wondering whether or not the same disgraceful, non-existent level of maturity and depth featured on television carried over to the actual gameplay–and was greatly pleased to find out it had.
The first indication of this comes in the form of the background story, which is standard post-apocalyptic fare. Guys may complain about having trouble getting dates these days, but the macho men of the future have it worse, because according to the story, most of Earth’s female population was wiped out by a virus in 2001. The world was ravaged as people fought to protect their precious ladies (now going by the title of “QueenLords”), and eventually the planet’s populace divided itself into gangs and tribes, depending on temperament and inclinations. Currently, it’s the year 2006 and you’re Griffin Spade, a BattleLord who is lucky enough to have both a wife and a son, especially considering the little tyke’s already showing psychic powers. When a renegade QueenLord decides to set her sights on the lad in the hopes of using his powers to control the world, it’s up to you to hop into your trusty old war machine and protect your family.
Though the Snuggle bear’s still not hiding anywhere in the cart to be tortured (although he does make a cameo appearance in the opening screen), 3DO did take a hint from fans and beefed up the game in a number of other ways. In addition to a larger number of levels to trounce, BT:GA also features a better looking and sped up graphics engine, improved handling, new tanks, and a couple more multiplayer options. Clocking in as a true sequel as opposed to merely an expansion set, you’re also looking at some new gameplay tweaks, such as the addition of secondary weapons and an upgrade system. Surprisingly enough, they’ve rounded out the single-player action a bit more, apparently trying to balance the title somewhat better than its predecessor, which was heavily slanted toward the multiplayer arena.
Playing alone, you’ll find campaign mode to be your game of choice, as you’ll play a series of themed missions strung together periodically by cutscenes that unfold the plot. Although each mission features a different objective, requiring you to rescue slaves, survive perilous escape routes, and hold back invading forces, universally, the premise is to destroy just about anything that moves. As you’ve probably inferred from the title, a wide selection of tanks is offered to do precisely this, ranging from the Inferno, which spews flame on command, to the massive Goliath, heavy-hitting M1A1, and nimble, yet highly vulnerable, MotoTank. No matter which tank you may choose due to personal preference, however, you’re liable to wind up trying them all thanks to BT:GA‘s unique continue system, which requires you to purchase tanks of varying costs, after your current vehicle is destroyed, with “tank bucks” you’ve earned or collected during the battles. The more powerful the tank, the higher the cost, and when you run out of money, it’s adios amigo.