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Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: March 22, 1999
It used to be that computer games involving tanks were always military simulations with lots of realism and complex tactical strategy. Since tanks are inherently slow-moving and hard to maneuver, you had to carefully plan points of attack and defensive hiding places, and coordinate assaults to wipe out enemy targets. The sluggishness actually helped the gameplay because it gave you time to figure out what to do next in the heat of battle. In sharp contrast to air combat games, where lightning-fast reflexes are a must, tank combat games have placed a premium on your mental rather than physical agility.
Lately, however, a whole series of games are being released that changes the image of what tanks can do. Grolier UK is about to release Tank Racer and Zero Division is finishing up Tank Fury, and both are arcade combat racing games. In this review I look at Interactive Magic’s Thunder Brigade, an arcade tank combat game developed by the Estonian company BlueMoon Interactive that has tanks that hover above the ground as they move around.Games of this sort clearly throw realism completely out the window, ignoring the actual limitations present in the physics of tank movement in favor of adrenaline-pumping action.
The story in Thunder Brigade revolves around a three-sided interstellar conflict among the Earth Alliance, the Halon Empire, and the United System. You are a member of the United System People’s Army, assigned to one of the former colonies of Earth, and you fight against the two opposing federations for your independence. As you succeed in your objectives, you are decorated and rise in military rank. The combat takes place among special hovertanks, 50-ton armored war machines that fly in the air using advanced anti-gravity drives (yeah, right!). Normally you command a single hovertank against an onslaught of enemies; but in many instances you either commandeer wingmen who obey your orders or conduct joint maneuvers with cooperative allied vehicles.
Thunder Brigade takes place in 12 different locales and involves 30 different missions. The game contains many modes for playing alone against the computer: Training Mission, helping you learn the controls; Instant Action, getting you immediately into the heat of battle without worrying about complicated mission objectives; Single Scenario, allowing you to tackle an isolated assignment; and Campaign, combining a whole series of scenarios into a sequential strategic battle plan. In addition, multiplayer mode allows you to play with up to 16 players over a LAN or up to four players over the Internet.
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