Go! Go! Go!
If anyone had asked me before the Wii U launch if Tank! Tank! Tank! would be a worthwhile game, my first answer would have been no. After spending some significant time with the title, I now know that gut instinct was, unfortunately, correct. Between an underwhelming multiplayer mode and a frustrating single-player campaign, it is hard to determine who would actually enjoy this game.
Tank! Tank! Tank! features tanks, and lots of them. In the single-player mode alone, I unlocked several tanks with varying speed, health, and maneuverability within the first hour of play. The weapons for these tanks were different, but never drastically changed gameplay. I may have been able to overlook the lack of variety if I were not forced into replaying missions multiple times.
To reach some sets of missions you have to collect a certain number of medals, which you earn one of for every tank you beat a level with. Eight or nine missions into the game, you are effectively forced into replaying nearly every campaign mission over just to advance to the next plot point. The story, amounting to just a few text blurbs at the end of each mission, provides little incentive for replaying missions.
The tank controls create a feeling of aggravation. While not overly complicated—you use an analog stick to move and a face button to shoot—driving the tank feels clunky. Both the forward motion of the tank and its left/right aiming is handled with one analog stick. Given that the GamePad has two analog sticks, I would have much preferred these actions be split between them. Turning and aiming at the same time is practically impossible, making some of the already tough boss fights even more difficult.
While nearly every facet of Tank! Tank! Tank!’s single-player campaign is unpleasant, I couldn’t help but smile sometimes. The game’s overt cartoon nature is portrayed well. Tanks and enemies feel absurd but still fit well into the game's universe. However, poor gameplay detracts from the presentation.
The multiplayer, while not as bad as the single-player, feels a little lackluster. From playing the main campaign I knew there was a wide variety of tanks in the game. However, when I stepped into the multiplayer modes, they were gone. Putting everybody on a level playing field with the same vehicle may have been the fair thing to do, but it leaves no room for tank experimentation. I would have loved to battle my friends with different combinations to see which tanks would really have the upper hand.
Limited choice aside, the modes available are still fun. Team battles, free-for-all matches, and cooperative missions are great and ultimately stay true to the formula set by the rest of the game: take aim and blow stuff up. “My Kong” mode, on the other hand, takes a different approach. Here, one player takes control of a giant mechanical ape-like creature while the rest of the players try to take him down. Playing as the ape is certainly a different experience, but is only really fun in the context of being around friends. Seeing their reactions as a giant creature bearing your face smashes them into the ground is priceless.
In the end, Tank! Tank! Tank! feels like a game that should have been stripped of its single-player and sold on the eShop as a multiplayer-only experience. The only true redeeming quality of the solo experience is the presentation, which is the same in multiplayer. It isn’t the worst of the Wii U launch titles, but it certainly is nowhere near the best.