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World Destruction League: Thunder Tanks (PlayStation) artwork

World Destruction League: Thunder Tanks (PlayStation) review

"Sometimes I wonder whether or not some people know what a truly bad game is like. Every now and then a game comes out that exemplifies everything that can possibly go wrong with a game, the kind of game that makes you question the existence of quality assurance tests. World Destruction League: Thunder Tanks is one of those games. The only incentive to play it is to get a good feel for what a truly bad game is like. This game is a monstrosity that has no redeeming qualities of which to speak. "

Sometimes I wonder whether or not some people know what a truly bad game is like. Every now and then a game comes out that exemplifies everything that can possibly go wrong with a game, the kind of game that makes you question the existence of quality assurance tests. World Destruction League: Thunder Tanks is one of those games. The only incentive to play it is to get a good feel for what a truly bad game is like. This game is a monstrosity that has no redeeming qualities of which to speak.

Like some games and movies with a similar premise, World Destruction League takes place in the not so distant future, in which vehicular combat is the most popular form of entertainment. A bunch of shady characters have enlisted in this World Destruction League, for the sole purpose of blowing up each other and their surroundings in the various combat games offered.

So what types of game modes are offered? World Destruction League presents itself as having five, but in reality, thereíre only three. Regardless, all modes allow players to fight each other or a bunch of computer-controlled bots in the gameís various locales.

The standard Deathmatch mode is free of rules, requiring players to do nothing but kill each other. It ends after a player gets three kills however, so on average, you can expect a Deathmatch game to last less than two minutes. Capture the Flag ends after one capture, so considering the small size of the gameís maps, these games can easily end in under a minute, and with no shots fired by either side. The Frenzy mode is ultimately the best, but thatís still not saying much. A flag is placed randomly on the playing field. Any player can grab it and return it to their base for a point. This usually takes a bit longer than the other modes because you have to battle over possession of flags.

The gameís main single player aspect however, is the tournament mode. However, itís not incredibly different, because itís merely a linear compilation of the three aforementioned modes. It also adds a mode that simply requires you to drive your tank from one end of a map to the other, which needless to say, isnít much fun at all. The final mode offered by World Destruction League is the Family mode, which the manual describes as being derivative of Deathmatch. By ďderivativeĒ however, they mean ďwith a minor control change,Ē which allegedly, according to the manual, gives the game more far reaching appeal.

I suppose such a control simplification would help if the controls were manageable to begin with, but this is not the case. A look at the gameís controls before playing would mislead a person to believe that they are reasonable, when in fact, they are far from it. The Directional pad is used for accelerating your tank, turning your turret, but not turning your tank. In order to turn your tank, you must do some odd combination of accelerating and turning your turret, which is needlessly difficult. I donít mind a challenge, but if 3DOís idea of challenge is turning a vehicle, then count me out. There are also buttons designated for strafing, which would lead you to believe that the gameís tanks are capable of strafing. However, only two of the gameís nine tanks are actually blessed with said capability.

And what an interesting array of tanks the game provides. The gameís nine vehicles are varied in their speed, weapons, and armor. Fundamentally however, all of the gameís tanks are pretty much the same, as theyíre all virtually impossible to commandeer. The Titan lumbers slowly with its excessive armor, while the Wraith cloaks when not moving or firing. If you want something that actually works however, youíll have to go with the DragonFly. Itís the only tank with a fully automatic weapon and strafing capabilities. Regardless, once you choose your vehicle, itís time to jump into combat.

The combat however, is painfully shallow and unexciting. Most of the gameís tanks have rotatable turrets as their primary weapons. However if you try to move when your turret isnít facing forward, the game completely disrupts your orientation. Given that, moving and firing isnít really an option. Youíll have to stick to just staying still and firing. However this completely counteracts the novelty of having rotatable turrets. Because of this, encounters usually boil down to you just sitting and firing until your target explodes. That is, unless you use one of the gameís two tanks that are capable of strafing. The strafing tanks have the obvious advantage of being able to move while keeping track of their targets. There are also extra weapons that can be picked up, but these are so trivial that the default tank weapons are almost always favored.

If the controls and gameplay mechanics werenít enough to make the combat terrible, then the almost nonexistent AI and abominable level design certainly do.

As much as the controls make the game a challenge to play, the computer-controlled bots just donít make for challenging opponents. They move aimlessly and slowly. Their terrible aim would make the game laughably easy if you could figure out how to move. Theoretically they are capable of completing objectives, but considering the aforementioned, they simply arenít competent enough to pull it off in practice. They also have the amazing tendency to get stuck, and drive back and forth against a wall in any of the gameís levels.

The levels the game offers are set in a variety of locales across the world. However, you couldnít figure this out without the names, because each level is almost completely indistinct. Not only cosmetically, but fundamentally. Each level is completely flat and the uninspired layouts make one map not much different from the last. Some have turrets, running trains, as well as explosives that can be detonated. Considering how hard it is to control, you can expect to run into these booby traps regularly. Their gameplay relevance aside, the levels also look simply awful.

In fact, everything looks awful in World Destruction League. The gameís camera is right behind your tank, and itís very close. This helps not only to limit your vision, but it gives you a very good view of each of the gameís atrociously modeled tanks. The levels look very similar to an elementary school painting of a town. I say this not for comedic value (it wouldnít have been very funny), but rather because thatís a pretty accurate comparison. And yet, somehow, despite the awful overall visual quality, World Destruction League rarely ever manages to run at a decent framerate. Now thatís impressive.

So the subject of impressiveness brings us to the gameís sound, which is comparable to how impressively bad the rest of the game is. Cannon shots and explosions are all somewhat muted for some reason, which I can assume is to cover up just how bad they are. What little voice acting there is in World Destruction League is well worth forgetting. The gameís soundtrack, which I have been told passes for rock, is thoroughly annoying.

And I am thoroughly annoyed that I actually spent my time playing this game. I guess I shouldnít expect much from a budget game made by a dubious developer, but frankly, the industry should start cracking down on these things and being more selective about what they let go to the stores. After one sitting, I managed to fully exhaust all of the gameís content. Iíd be more willing to forgive such extreme brevity if the gameís content was even remotely worthwhile. I admonish you not to pick this one up if you see it on the shelves. The low price simply does not justify the abysmal quality.

radicaldreamer's avatar
Community review by radicaldreamer (November 09, 2004)

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