Heavy Weapon Hands-On

We check out this side-scrolling Cold War cartoon shooter for Xbox Live Arcade.

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With the invasion of the Red Star army, the forces of freedom have but one remaining option to prevent obliteration: Atomic Tank! This is the premise of the upcoming Heavy Weapon for Xbox Live Arcade, a cartoonish side-scrolling shooter that is based on the 2005 PC game. We had a chance to play the game at a recent Microsoft press event and liked where the game is heading so far.

Once your superpowered tank has been deployed, it's up to you to invade one of the nine Russian-themed levels--with names like Frigistan and Blastnya--that feature a variety of enemies flying overhead. The action scrolls from left to right and, before long, the enemies really start piling on, dropping bombs and the occasional power-ups as you go. Periodically, a white supply helicopter will drop weapons or shield upgrades during a mission. You control the movement of the tank with the left analog stick and the direction of your fire with the right analog stick. You can also shoot enemies and their bombs out of the sky. As a last resort, you can deploy a nuclear blast with the right trigger but only after you have picked up the nuclear power-up. As you might expect, triggering the nuke will wipe out all onscreen enemies. But supplies are limited, so you'll want to use it at the right moment.

You'll face boss battles at the end of each mission, such as one we played against a huge battleship that was armed with homing missiles. After you beat the boss, you can choose to upgrade certain parts of your tank. For example, you can upgrade its shields or add new weapons to your arsenal, such as the aforementioned homing missiles.

With a cute cartoon look and responsive controls, as well as the ever-growing challenge of increasingly numerous and devious enemies, Heavy Weapon looks like it will be a fun download when it's released on Xbox Live Arcade. We'll have a full review of the game when it becomes available.

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