Just shy of a year ago, Peter Hirschberg let loose Vector Tanks, one of the finest throwbacks to retro gaming in recent years. Vector Tanks wasn’t so much a reinvisioning of a classic, a la Pac-Man Championship Edition, as it was just a great example of how to take old-school arcade action and bring it to the 21st century.
Vector Tanks Extreme is not drastically different from the original. In fact, it’s more or less an upgrade. Since the first Vector Tanks was published by Chillingo, and Hirschberg now has his own studio, it was not possible to simply update the game.
With this new version, a good-faith gesture was made by re-releasing the original for free for a limited time, since this one comes with a new price tag. What you get for your extra bucks is a revamped version with a much more extreme difficulty setting. The first iteration already carried a weighty challenge, so Extreme is tailored to those who want even more.
The ’80s called. They want their future back.
In typical arcade fashion, the goal here is merely to survive. You’ll take your seat in three different tank styles, jeeps, and helicopters as you cruise through a vector-based battlefield, blowing up as many enemy forces as you can before your own imminent death. The graphics may be simple and textureless, but it provides an authentic, ’80s-style futuristic take on virtual worlds. The gameplay is equally simplistic and hearkens back to the glory days of arcade classics.
The extra notch of difficulty goes a long way to make this update a success. Because it’s so hard, it’s bound to turn a few people off after a few plays, but this is a game that invokes that “just one more try” feeling to keep you coming back to beat your high scores.
New powerups are provided to help with the onslaught, including a railgun, homing missiles, and nukes. Easily the best addition is the rapid fire. With the slow loading of the main gun (where aiming and timing every shot is important) having rapid fire, even for a short period of time, is not only helpful, but more fun.
If you’ve already picked up the original Vector Tanks, you’ll probably be satisfied. After all, this is really just an upgraded edition. However, for those who loved the first game and crave even more destruction and fast-paced mayhem, this will be well worth the few dollars it costs to upgrade.