Alan Baxter On March - 24 - 2010

Hitting the Playstation Store this week was developer Beatshapers latest game, boring called “NormalTanks”. The tedious title of the game itself didn’t inspire me much, so I had little expectations before playing the game. NormalTanks fits into the “Minis” category and therefore is available for £3.49 and can be used on both the PSP and Playstation 3 consoles.

NormalTanks is a top-down arcade shooter consisting of classic graphics and fast-paced gameplay, with the only goal of the game being make it to the end of the level alive. When I first started the game, I thought I had accidentally launched a PSP version instead of the PS3 platform I was playing the game on and this was due to the horrific control system; or as I originally thought. At first, I could barely move my tank around the screen and aim my weapon due to a complex control system with a reasonably steep learning curve. However, the controls are what makes NormalTanks unique and when mastered, makes the game a lot of fun to play.

961236 20100304 790screen001 NormalTanks Review

Your tank is moved around using the D-pad, with the analogue sticks not even being an option. L1 changes your weapon between the slower but more powerful missiles and the faster but weaker machine gun, with the R1 button firing your weapon of choice. Here comes the confusing part; you aim the weapon by using the triangle, circle, X and square buttons. Imagine the buttons being used as a compass; triangle aims the gun north, X south, circle east and square north. The triangle button will also move the gun in a 45degree angle for diagonal shots. I have no doubt that you will be confused after reading that, and the system itself will take anything between 10-30 minutes to master. However, when you are comfortable with the controls, the game can be thoroughly enjoyable to play. Later levels of the game have multiple enemies all firing at the same time, resulting in you having to strafe around the screen with the D-pad avoiding bullets, and this can be done with great ease and fluidity.

NormalTanks consists of 8 stages which take approximately 15 minutes each to complete. The variety of environments is good and keeps the game fresh, making you battle through enemy bases, forests, mountains and even snow-based levels. The levl design as a whole is good and provides some frantic gameplay, but I did get lost on the odd occasion due to the game not making the next move obvious; and this is especially annoying when you have to creep through the smallest gap in the environment which takes a few glimpses to realise even exists.

961236 20100304 790screen002 NormalTanks Review

Red star power-ups appear throughout the game which provide instant upgrades to your cannon, machine gun, shield and also speed which can alter the way you approach levels in the game. These upgrades will be useful against the wide variety of enemies in the game which must be defeated using different tactics. The usual tanks and pillboxes won’t put up much of a challenge, but spider-like tanks which are constantly on the move will put your strafing technique to the test and have you thinking quickly due to the intuitive aiming system.

Veterans of classic-styled games will be right at home with NormalTanks due to its old-school graphics and retro heavy metal soundtrack which pumps you up for the action. The graphical style of the game suits the gameplay and control system perfectly, and some nice touches are present such as tyre marks being left in the ground.

Fans of fast-paced arcade shooters who aren’t afraid to master a new and innovative control system should definitely check out NormalTanks. The game will only last approximately 1 hour 30 minutes – 2 hours, but the enjoyable gameplay will have many coming back for more, and the £3.49 price tag makes the game very reasonable. Not for everyone, but if old-school, fast-paced action is your thing, NormalTanks is recommended.

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