World Destruction League: Thunder Tanks Hands-On
Think of the World Destruction League as a postapocalyptic version of the WWF, except with tanks instead of wrestlers, and you've got the basic premise of 3DO's latest BattleTanx-inspired shooter.
3DO's PS2 tank game is quite a departure from its popular BattleTanx games, and it ditches the serious save-the-planet attitude of the series in favor of a more action-packed, more humorous approach. The future of sports entertainment is the World Destruction League, a televised series of destructive tank battles with a raw, uncensored attitude. The tanks and their pilots have personas and motivations, and they amass a fan following as they fight their way to the top of the ranks. We spent a good amount of time with an early build of WDL: Thunder Tanks and found that the storyline isn't the only part of the game that 3DO improved.
The game has six different modes. The game's main mode is the tournament mode, which lets a single player take his favorite tank from the bottom of the ranks to the WDL champion through a series of matches that represent all the other modes. Up to four players can play the game's other modes: deathmatch, capture the flag, frenzy, domination, and family. The deathmatch and capture-the-flag modes are pretty straightforward; the frenzy mode is a variation of capture-the-flag, except with more flags than usual; the domination mode requires you to protect a series of switches; and the family mode just simplifies the controls and the objectives.
The game sports numerous control options, from the default single-analog stick control to a comprehensive dual-analog control that supports independent rudder and turret controls. The gameplay is pure Twisted Metal - you move around an enclosed arena and pick up various weapon power-ups and use them against each other. The game also has drones that simply cruise about and attack you, but you can toggle off this option if you want a purely one-on-one match.
The graphics are extremely nice. The tanks themselves are all very detailed and are modeled with an individual theme in mind. Each tank has strengths and weaknesses and even a special attack that corresponds with the general look of the tank. The Titan tank is a slow but huge behemoth with a giant nonrotating turret, while the Dragonfly is a quick and lithe hovertank with almost no firepower and hardly any armor at all. The game features some expansive environments with plenty of buildings, objects, and varied terrain. The weapons in the game cause actual damage to buildings and environments, and they can actually topple most buildings. Additionally, your tank gets visually beat-up as you take damage. All the textures in the game look very nice, and the game runs extremely smoothly in a high resolution. Even with four players in split-screen mode, the game maintains a very silky frame rate.
Since the WDL is a televised sport, the game features two commentators that deliver both relevant and color commentary over the action. Just like the PlayStation version, the PS2 version features voice work from Richard Moll - he acts as the ex-WDL veteran who delivers the color commentary. The soundtrack is full of rock and techno, and the sound effects are really good. You can hear explosions and other havoc loud and clear, and other goodies like crunching noises and engine sounds really help complete the audio package.
The team that is developing the PS2 version of WDL is different from the one that developed the PlayStation version's, and it shows. With excellent graphics, numerous control options, solid sound, and fun gameplay, the PS2 version of the game looks as if it could be the best tank game that 3DO has ever published.
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