Publisher: Lunar Workshop
Developer: Lunar Workshop
System requirements: Windows XP/Vista/7; ATI or NVidia graphics card (2006 or newer)
ESRB rating: Not Rated
Release date: Available now
Review by: Remy Ransom
Ever been quick to judge a game? Yeah, me too. Ever immediately dismissed a game because it wasn’t graphically impressive? Yeah, same here, we sure do have a lot in common. How bout this one? Ever sat up at night wondering what would happen if Tron and Warcraft had an illegitimate child that was abandoned at an orphanage and raised by 1337 speakers? Oh, you haven’t? Well, this is awkward. I feel that Jorge Rodriguez current [insert any company title here] of indie developer Lunar Workshop may have as well, when Digitanks was in its early phases. What is Digitanks exactly? It’s a 3D turn-based artillery strategy game. Smokers beware, that may be far too much to say in one breath. Somewhere in a gamers mind, there’s that area that screams out mightily, “I seriously need to destroy something!” And with Digitanks you, too, can shell out your aggressions.
The game has no solid story to speak of, so if you’re looking for an adventure through space and time with characters you can relate to, you’re not getting it. What you will get, however, is a humorous story, in the form of a poem, with all your favorite ‘net slang. Don’t let that turn you away if you’re into proper spelling, it’s intended to be that way. You’re in a world run by a CPU, controlling an enclave of Batteries, Buffers, and of course Tanks of all shapes and sizes. The enclave lacks one real thing, and that’s someone to command it. This is where you come in to protect and destroy. As your tanks begin to discover the areas of this Tron-like battlefield, you’ll begin your encounter with the autonomous enclaves surrounding you, who will attempt to destroy you and everything you possess.
In the main two modes of Digitanks, there is an Artillery mode and a Strategy mode. Artillery mode is pretty much a quick-match introduction to the game, where you go up against x-number of enemies who have x-number of tanks. Strategy mode is where the real nuts, bolts and core of the game is. You begin much like any army from other games would, with a couple of units and a base, which in this case is your CPU. As you expand, you can obtain more resources and continue to amass your digital empire. In the later portions of the match, players find themselves building better units with more range, more defense, and attack power. If you’re too slow, however, in your progression, you may find yourself in an enemy enclave’s sights or in some cases multiple enemy enclaves. Biding your time and using your brain will help you assure victory.
Gameplay is pretty simple once you start paying attention to the game prompting you that something has been built, or that you’ve just “downloaded” an ability to help you. If you’ve never tried your hand at a strategy title before, the tutorial section explains how to play the basics pretty well. First timers will certainly appreciate that, and others will appreciate the “Windowed Mode”. Both the units you control and those of your enemies will display a small chat box with an emoticon. I found this to be pretty quaint, and often funny when a tank did no damage to an opposing one, the enemy would display a “:/” emoticon. Expanding forward through building is simple enough. Build buffers to supply units, keep tank near unit, and get a bonus. You can also choose to save your progress and return later to finish up, which is a nice touch for the gamer on the go.
The first unpleasantness I encountered was the loading screen, which is just a bunch of tanks parading down your computer screen – wasn’t a fan of it. Second, while you can view the map through rotating the camera, it wasn’t as polished as one could hope for. The controls took me a few attempts to get a handle on operating the camera, and I’m hoping in a future update that can be rectified. It does take a little while to figure out the Downloading System, where your CPU can upgrade certain items or learn to build new ones. That was really the only truly difficult aspect to grasp. As far as the graphics go, a lot of people may be turned off by the datedness here, but they seemed almost intentionally created this way to establish a certain flavor. With little to go on for story, some hardcore RTS players will probably find moving tanks around monotonous, and some I suspect, will complain that it’s a lot like Worms.
Digitanks is still a diamond in the rough, but to me it’s an inexpensive gemstone. It’s blend of elements from other games gives it a chance to do something great for the genre. I’d like to say personally that as an angry gamer, I actually enjoyed researching and playing this game, and I think Jorge may be doing something right here. If a game can bring back memories of watching my Dad play Atari when I was three, and later make me call him and apologize from breaking his joystick, it might bring back a memory to you as well. The game’s demo version is free and can speak for itself, so give it a shot.