Bugs Vs. Tanks

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Bugs Vs. Tanks




Will it fly or will it tank?



The Guild series by Level-5 is build around the idea of giving prolific developers total freedom to create the game they would want to play, regardless of marketability. This has fostered a creativity rarely seen in the industry, and so naturally the gaming world was excited when Mega Man and Dead Rising creator Keiji Inafune announced that he was contributing to the Guild02 package. His game was to be called Bugs vs. Tanks, and it was going to be about tanks... which fight bugs.

Bugs vs. Tanks is at heart a simple top down shooter with explorative elements, and the game never quite deviates from that model. The tank is controlled with the Circle Pad, you rotate the gun with the Y and A buttons, and centre the turret with the X button. Firing can be done automatically or manually by pressing R, although the challenge of aiming while moving often proves to be too much for anyone but an accomplished multitasker. Touch screen controls are also supported for moving the turret, although they are curiously absent for all menus, even though the menu design features sliders which seem distinctly touch-able.

Levels are broken down into 5-minute long missions which are decently varied. They range from simple traversing of new terrain, the defence of your colony, eradication of a certain enemy and rescue of stranded comrades. The latter two will have you exploring the terrain but your targets are never marked, and since your surroundings tend to be quite repetitive, expect to get lost often. Some missions feature a strict time limit and are near impossible without prior knowledge of where your targets are. At certain points in the story you will also face boss fights, but these levels tend to be the weakest parts of the game. Boss enemies are large and deal a lot of damage, but their patterns all amount to attacking you, crawling erratically for a few seconds and then returning to attack you some more. The only effective strategy is to stand still and keep firing, and hope that you can kill the bug before their tank suffers too much damage.



At this point, it is appropriate to mention again how truly difficult this game can be. Levels are large and sprawling and some feature dozens of insects. Larger enemies like the hornet and queen termites can take almost ten shots to kill, but focusing fire on them might lead you to being surrounded by a horde of faster bees and ants. At these times, manual firing becomes a serious pain since even missing a single shot can make the difference between failing a mission and scraping a pass. I found that at some missions I had to go and turn the difficulty back to "Easy", as even "Normal" was giving me a sound beating.

Over the course of the game, you will find abandoned tanks which you can salvage parts from in order to become stronger. These tanks are all based on real world models of the WWII era, ranging from German to Soviet to American and even Japanese, and are modelled meticulously. You can mix and match cannons to chassis parts to create some cross-cultural abomination, and give it a fittingly  bizarre paint job like Psychedelic or Stained Glass to add to the absurdity. Each tank has four main stats: POW, which affects your cannon's power and RUN, which determines your tank's ability to climb hills are determined by the cannon part you have equipped. Meanwhile, the chassis determines your tank's defence and movement speed on flat terrain. Speedy tanks will thus lack defence, and tanks which pack lots of firepower will have trouble getting over hills. This adds a deep sense of strategy to customising, and challenges players to create a tank appropriate for the mission at hand.



As you unlock more and more parts, it is clear that the tanks have been created as a labour of love. Each tank is recorded into an in-game encyclopaedia which not only lists stats but also interesting information about their deployment in real life conflicts. In a stroke of genius, the historically amphibious tanks actually do perform in deep water in this game, and while this is never required to progress through the missions, it is an interesting addition waiting to be discovered. Tank models are so highly detailed that at points I justified the zoomed in perspective as appropriate to give the modelling a little more limelight. With such attention to detail, it would not surprise me if Inafune himself had a guilty pleasure of collecting miniature military models.

While the tanks themselves are modelled excellently and reflect their real world counterparts, environments and the enemies do suffer graphically. The terrain textures all look terribly zoomed in, and some leaves will pixellate if you move too close. Some bugs look decent, and the sheen which reflects off their bodies is a nice touch, but most look decidedly unrealistic. Bugs certainly do not gain the attention to detail that tanks to in this game, and their encyclopaedia entries are all bland and not particularly informative. Their strategies all boil down to zipping around and attacking you once they see you, so for anyone expecting complex hive-mind tactics and being able to fiendishly lure ants into antlion pits... nope.

As for the story, Bugs Vs. Tanks is another disappointment. The game's campaign is over thirty missions long, not counting the post-story levels, but the story only really develops two thirds into the game. The fact that you play as the German army in World War 2 raises a few points of contention, but this is never really brought up in the game's story and at the end of the day it plays no differently than a WWII game starring the Allied Forces. Tensions do mount when the story gets going though, and the last few  missions are certainly worth playing, but it does feel like the earlier missions about foraging and rescue don't have a real place in the grand narrative. For this reason, the story starts at bland and grows to being moderately interesting, but only the players who endure the rough difficulty will ever get to witness any of it.

In Summary

Bugs Vs. Tanks is a hard game to recommend as it does not have a wide range of appeal. While the overall shooter gameplay is passable at best and frustrating at worst, customisation is fun and the game knows how to provide a genuine sense of excitement when adding a new tank to your collection. For players who can look past all the imperfections in the graphics and gameplay and appreciate the hard work put in to realistically represent the tanks, Bugs Vs. Tanks will have something to delight you. For the rest of players who think that the previous category is an overly narrow superlative, don't get this game.

Score: 5.5/10


Last edited by Magikarp on Tue Jul 09, 2013 10:08 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Bugs Vs. Tanks :: Comments

Post on Tue Jul 09, 2013 10:07 pm by Magikarp

Sorry it ran a bit long :/

I was considering doing reviews for the rest of the Guild games as well, since they're actually a lot of fun to review. Maybe AeroPorter next?

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Post on Wed Jul 10, 2013 11:20 am by Professor Clayton

Nice review Magikarp~
It was a good read, and actually not too long. :3 Were any of the Guild 02 titles actually any good? Surprised

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Post on Wed Jul 10, 2013 12:37 pm by KiDasharus

The Starship Damrey is good for the few minutes it's well designed. I'm actually thinking of reviewing it once I :C: it.

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Post on Wed Jul 10, 2013 8:57 pm by Magikarp

Thanks guys! Ehe, I haven't gotten Starship Damrey yet because I'm waiting for a price drop. You can have the reviewing duties if you like, 3Dash Smile

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Post on Wed Jul 10, 2013 9:04 pm by Professor Clayton

@Magikarp You should review Aero Porter; as I must see how it beat out Layton in that Level-5 survey. Wink
@Dash Yeah, but it still doesn't really justify a purchase to me. D:

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Post on Thu Jul 11, 2013 12:20 am by Knuckles

@Clay Spam! Spam! Just like I used to rig the NP votes. Can't believe Knuckles didn't win Gameshow host. Lost to a stinking Toad!

And I can review Liberation Maiden if no one else wants to. Smile

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Post on Tue Jul 16, 2013 9:57 pm by KiDasharus

Clay - Exactly, it's ok but I don't think you should get it unless it drops to like, $3

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