Game Reviews

Tank Ace 1944

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Tank Ace 1944

How fickle we gamers can be. iPhone games have only been around less than a month and already we're expecting a lot of the handset. Any lack of accelerometer-driven interaction is noticeable by its absence. With Tank Ace 1944, that expectation is unfortunately not met. Instead, this iPhone conversion of the oft-ported portable adventure lacks firepower.

The bad news is this is a pixel-perfect conversion of a format that doesn't boast motion sensitive controls, and therefore finds itself seriously lacking on the iPhone. Not to say that Tank Ace 1944 is a poor game – far from it. The lack of effort to get the most out of the device, however, smacks of apathy and disinterest, especially for a full price game.

Tank Ace 1944 places you in the driving seat of a World War II tank on one of three sides: Allied, German or Soviet. The Allied and Soviet armies advance on Germany from either side, while the Germans attempt to break through the East and West blockades. The levels are admirably simple, requiring you to clear the area of enemy tanks so your troops can advance to the next sector.

Trundling over the undulating 3D environments is a joy. Brilliant programming ensures the game runs smoothly with your tank up to full speed. The diversity of terrain, aside from the actual topography of the landscape, is rather disappointing, however. It rarely changes much beyond rocky fields of peaks and troughs, with a river at one end which tests your shelling abilities before moving on to the next round.

When required, you can switch from controlling the tank to aiming the turret, allowing for more precise targeting. Despite the unimaginative landscape, it's impressive to see how much has been squeezed into a single megabyte. There's never any real shortage of tanks to shoot or lorries to plunder for fuel and ammo.

Issues with the controls and camera angles cause the game to breakdown, however. Being as this is a slick 3D game, it's something of a jarring experience to see the camera fail to track and pan along with the vehicle or turret. Instead, it coarsely jumps around. This makes surveying the levels not only difficult, but quite irritating, since enemies hardly suffer from the same handicap.

There's an option to switch to a top-down view, but this doesn't help much since the view is again stationary until your tank reaches the very edges of the screen, only to be greeted by an enemy bombardment from a metre away that you previously couldn't see.

The controls are equally bolted on. Instead of using the obvious (and far superior) option of driving the tank and aiming the turret with the accelerometer, there are some small and badly positioned arrows around the edge of the screen for forwards, backwards, left, right and fire. During the heat of battle, your thumbs naturally drift away from these inefficient buttons and the tank grinds to an aggravating halt.

Tank Ace 1944 could have been a real winner if the developer had spent more time refining the iPhone conversion, rather than the quick and crude port of the PDA version we're actually given. With proper camera movement and decent controls, this game could easily have landed itself a Silver award. As it though, it's a difficult game to recommend with so many more refined games vying for attention at the App Store.

[Version reviewed: 1.01]

Tank Ace 1944

If it included intuitive accelerometer controls and a better camera view, Tank Ace 1944 could have rocked. But it didn't, so it doesn't
Spanner Spencer
Spanner Spencer
Yes. Spanner's his real name, and he's already heard that joke you just thought of. Although Spanner's not very good, he's quite fast, and that seems to be enough to keep him in a regular supply of free games and away from the depressing world of real work.