• Now Team 17 are off making Leisure Suit Larry games, I wonder if Snowblind Studios / Flat games are keen to fill the gap left by a distinct lack of an XBLA Worms update. The original Worms XBLA is available for the very reasonable sum of 400 points.

    Death Tank, the brash and raucous pretender to the parabolic strategy crown is a whopping 1200 points which is the first thing you should take into consideration before unleashing your stack of Microsoft points on this particular XBLA title. 400 points for Worms, 1200 points for Death Tank. Keep that little fact at the back of your mind for later.

    Death Tank was once hidden away on the Duke Nukem 3D Saturn disk. For those of you who never had the pleasure of owning one of Sega’s very much maligned and understated consoles, with a deft bit of finger manipulation on the Saturn pad you could access Death Tank and with a Saturn multitap plugged in, you could indulge in some seriously frenetic 4 player action.

    It might not seem like it in these days of massive multiplayer online games, but 4 players sat around in the basement of Electronics Boutique one lunchtime with a traded in Saturn and a copy of The Duke ended up enjoying some seriously brilliant fun. I was one of the lucky ones included in the action while other seasonal workers barracked and screamed support from the sidelines.

    Death Tank XBLA

    Each player takes control of a tank (no WAY!) and once you’ve chosen the most appealing set of armour, you’re transported to a barren destructible landscape. In single player arcade mode you’re pitted against super-accurate bots with the aim of clearing as many of them as possible before all your lives are lost.

    In challenge mode, it’s pretty much a case of surviving longer than the other three players, notching up the biggest score to emerge on top of the challenge leaderboard.

    In all honesty though, Death Tank is largely a huge waste of time if you play it as a single player. With a room full of friends and four 360 pads, or even online against up to 7 other players is where Death Tank almost but not quite manages to justify some of its expense. Pitting your wits against human players is far more satisfying, because no one’s got a number-crunching trajectory computer built into their skulls (except for my mate Dave but we never invite him round for gaming sessions anyway).

    Death Tank’s update includes a variety of new weapons that the original didn’t have. To compliment the bog-standard projectiles there are guided missiles, rolling mines, MERVs and Nukes. There are also rapid-firing machine guns designed for close-quarters combat, and various other weaponry options and upgrades to your tank. The more points you acquire in each round, the more money you can spend in the tank shop upgrading your armoury.

    Playing Death Tank XBLA does recapture some of the excitement and enjoyment of the original Death Tank, but despite its incredibly slick presentation and graphical flair, and a bucketload of single and multiplayer options, Death Tank is a game that feels strangely twee and old fashioned.

    Whereas Worms saves itself with a large chunk of humour and a ridiculous set of overpowered weapons, Death Tank tries to take itself far too seriously and is the lesser game for it.

    But I keep thinking about that new pricing strategy Microsoft are hell bent on making the new standard price for XBLA content. Death Tank isn’t a new idea, and in the years between its first appearance on those clanky old Saturns, and this new incarnation so many better games have fetched up on our shores on various formats. Despite some variety in the landscapes, and plenty of achievements to mine, it gets rapidly repetitive and lacking in incentives to continue playing.

    When you consider that a fully fledged version of Battlefield 1943 will cost exactly the same as this when it releases later on in the year, Death Tank feels even more like it’s royally taking the mirth.

    Both this and R-Type before it really didn’t justify appearing on the Xbox Live Marketplace for anything over 800 points so despite a few moments of intense addictive gameplay, I can’t honestly recommend Death Tank but if it appears as a future Deal of the Week for 400 points then you should definitely give it a go.

    Score: 5/10

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