Back in my youth, I spent many a rainy afternoon playing Combat on my next-door neighbour's Atari 2600 console. It was a simple affair: we each grabbed joysticks and squared off on opposite sides of an arena, dodging
around geometric objects and blasting each other on an overhead 2D map.
With the release of ThinkTanks, GarageGames has recaptured the essence of what made this game so enjoyable. ThinkTanks is just as easy to play and as challenging as Combat. But it's a lot more fun, thanks to great 3D graphics and other modern embellishments that make it more palatable for today's sophisticated gamer.
The action in ThinkTanks is rendered from a third-person perspective - your camera is positioned above and just slightly behind your tank, so you can get a good view of what's around you.
The screen displays the status of your foes while a small radar window shows the position of any nearby enemies. Manoeuvring through the game is easy; the keyboard controls your tank's direction, while your mouse controls your tank's turret and cannon. There's even a 3D crosshair system, which shows you approximately where your shells will land, simplifying the aiming process.
ThinkTanks has two basic play modes: Solo and Multiplayer. In Solo mode, you're cast as a brain-slave - a disembodied brain in a jar - serving at the will of Alien Mind Control. Somehow, you've slipped free of the effects of their brain waves and are now pursued by legions of bot-tanks, computer-controlled tanks whose sole purpose is to destroy you. The game progresses through multiple levels of difficulty as the bots get stronger, more numerous, and more reckless. Fortunately, you'll find plenty of power-ups that give you healing abilities and access to special weapons. (If you don't want to bother with the story line behind the Solo game, though, you can switch to Quick Play mode, which puts you right into the bot-blasting action.)
But where the game really succeeds is in Multiplayer mode. There are several options here: you can play in Battlemode or Team Battlemode (two Deathmatch-style games), as well as Scrum or Team Scrum (think rugby with tanks, either as a free-for-all or as a team effort). You can join a variety of online servers - at press time these were mainly populated by bots, but other registered and demo-playing ThinkTanks gamers are becoming increasingly common. In fact, a game finder and ranking system is built right into the game. You can also create your own server if you prefer.
ThinkTanks retains what’s best about Combat and has new elements that bring the game up-to-date. It's a steal at its price.