This game just popped up this week from the guys over at Warp Door on my RSS feed. I have no idea what state of completion it will ever reach, but playing around with it for a bit, Tankita touches on some things that got me feeling a bit nostalgic while being a well-made little game in its own right.
Tankita — a tank combat game from Terri Vellman, kind of reminds me of vehicular simulator games of the 90’s. Not in terms of realism, but in terms of just being able to freely explore and destroy large environments in a technological thing that feels fun to control. The low-poly graphics definitely help. Its first mission tasks players with destroying enemy bases that remind me of the bases I used to blow up in Microsoft Fury3 (or maybe Terminal Velocity for some of you). Engaging enemy vehicles recalls a bit of the feeling of Incoming if anybody reading this remembers that game. I just miss games that would drop you into the cockpit of some cool tank, mech, or aircraft and say “go blow some stuff up” without much in the way of directions or limitations.
What are the most popular vehicular combat games right now? Titanfall and all the Battlefield-related games I guess. Outside of multiplayer they’re all pretty linear games. In them you may hop into a tank, plane, or mech from time to time in extremely scripted sequences. On the flipsisde we have all these open-world games about shooting things like Far Cry or Just Cause, and they may let you hop into tanks or helicopters, but we don’t really have a new open-world game that’s about destroying things with missiles or a big cannon. Wouldn’t it be cooler if you could clear out Far Cry-style outposts with a Titan? Maybe I need to check out Xenoblade X if I want to have something even remotely similar. People seem to be hyped about MechWarrior 5 but I’m not familiar with that franchise.
But back to Tankita. Aside from all that nostalgia, as of this writing it’s a bite-sized game with a really good foundation going for it. The tank you control is fast and responsive — almost un-tank-like in that way. It turns on a dime, strafes really well, and even has a jump button. The enemies are fast and relentless enough to keep up though which makes the combat hectic and somewhat intense. The game already has a nice variety of enemies too. The bases are guarded by missile launchers and artillery platforms with markers on the ground for where their rounds will land. Convoys of tanks, cars, and motorcycles come at you. Watching the little drivers fly out of vehicles after they blow up is a nice touch along with things like the polygonal HUD and the sort of nonchalant mission descriptions.
I don’t have a good sense of what the developer’s plans, budget, or abilities are with Tankita, but there are some things I’d like to see added. Chief among them would probably be more and more varied terrain. Right now you’re limited to a small circle where the only traversable terrain is flat. If possible, it’d be neat if you could scale the mountains that are there, and if the terrain in general was more hilly. Maybe Vellman could even input mobility differences between roads and other terrain. Making a bigger world in general would add a nice sense of scale to Tankita which I feel is good for vehicle-oriented games. Would a first-person camera be possible? Different weapons (maybe as pick-ups) would be a nice thing to think about for the future too. Right now the game just gives you a machine gun and a canon.
Anyway, I think I’m just going to lament at how today’s AAA game publishers so focused on shooters have ignored vehicular combat as anything other than a side distraction. Maybe there’s some other simulator on PC from a small developer I need to know about.
- Big story about a lost Native American city: http://arstechnica.com/features/2016/12/theres-a-1000-year-old-lost-city-beneath-the-st-louis-suburbs/
- Proper grammar ≠ morality: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/language-blog/bal-grammar-and-morality-are-not-a-good-mix-20161213-story.html