Vector Tanks is a throwback to the old arcade games of the early 80s. If you can remember the classic game Battlezone, then this will give you flashbacks. The plot is simple: you’re in a tank and you’ve got to blow up other tanks before they do the same to you. The graphics are also simple: 3-D vector outlines, some objects shaded, some not. The fun is based on a classic concept: blowing stuff up is cool. There’s no plot to remember, no tricky levels or puzzles, just classic 5 minute action.
Vector Tank’s perspective is first person, as if you were driving the tank, looking through a Heads Up Display (HUD). There’s a radar on the bottom of your screen, your score and remaining lives are on the lower right, the nearest target indicator is to the lower left, and your current weapon is listed top-center. There’s nothing fancy here, but it works. To pause the game, press the menu button next to your score and slide it to the right.
To drive your tank, you’ll need to put one finger on each side of the screen and slide up or down. Think of your fingers like they’re the tracks of the tank and it’ll feel rather natural. To shoot, just tap the center of the screen. Since enemy tanks can shoot back, it’s dangerous to stop and turn to fire; keep moving! You’re turret won’t move; you have to maneuver your tank so the enemy is right in front of you. When you get shot at, the tank shells move pretty slow, so if you’re quick you can dodge. Likewise, if you want to hit a moving target, you’ll have to time your shots. The game offers you unlimited tank shells, although they do take a few seconds to reload. There are three bonus items scattered throughout the world: rapid fire machine guns, shields, and devestating nukes. Rapid fire and shield will wear off, while the nuke shell will kill you if you’re too close, so be careful!
Enemy tanks are exactly like yours and are worth 100 points (1000 if you’ve got a shield and a shell ricochet takes them out), while enemy jeeps only run away from you and are worth 2000 points. Nukes will give you extra points if you take out two or more enemies, and you’ll also get bonus points for long-distance shots. Random giant vector squares and triangles are the only cover you and your enemies have. They don’t really offer any tactical strategy, but it breaks up the landscape. Finally, you’ll have to keep an eye out for landmines, which can kill you even if you’ve got a shield. The three difficulty levels only affect how well the enemy tanks react to you, though even on expert, you’ll be just fine as long as you keep moving. A practice mode is also added so you can get used to the controls.
The music here is rather odd and gets obnoxious quickly. There’s only one track, and it’s a mid-90′s feeling garage-metal song. I would have thought their would be something more simple or retro, but it’s an aggressive song that encourages you to “blow it up” by repeating that phrase over and over. The band’s name is Urbansnake, if the name sounds awesome to you, you’ll probably like the music too. For everyone else, the music can be turned off in the settings. There’s also options for brightness, vector glow and shading, and reversing the controls. There’s a how-to-play option that takes you to a detailed instruction manual on the game’s website.
Overall, don’t expect any bells and whistles here. I know this game was designed to feel retro, but some online high-score sharing would be a welcomed addition. Also, a multiplayer option would give the game a LOT of extra replay value. Vector Tanks is a quaint and enjoyable take on a classic, but it could definitely use a few more additions to make it worth it’s price tag.