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Battletanx Preview

Publisher - 3DO
Developer - 3DO
Platform - N64
Release Date - mid 1999
Type - Action

3D0's Battletanx originally began its life as a Nintendo 64 version of the company's popular title, Battle Sport -- at least, sort of. According to Battletanx's designer Michael Mendheim, the company had every intention of porting Battle Sport to Nintendo 64, but decided that it might not be the right product for the console after running into problems with their marketing department. So instead, Mendheim opted to combine the multiplayer elements of Mario Kart 64 with the destructive fun of the arcade title Tokyo Wars and Battletanx was born.

Battletanx can be described as the Road Warrior with tanks. The game takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where women have become somewhat of an endangered species. After a plague -- a virus that attacks the double-X chromosome, the females of a species -- unleashed from the jungles of South America makes its way into the air, women begin dying by the thousands. Governments work quickly to establish quarantine zones, safe-houses for women who haven't been infected by the virus, but many blame the government for the outbreak to begin with. Before long marshal law is established and civil wars break out. But wars aren't fought over territory or money. They are fought over women. Eventually the world is thrown into thermonuclear war and vast cities are destroyed. Surviving women are looked upon as if they are Gods. Named Queen-lords, they are protected at all costs by individual tribes of men.

"So, it's the queen lord's responsibility to ensure the survival of her tribe and the best way to do that is to grow it," comments Mendheim. "She takes her bravest warrior in her tribe, and names him the battle lord. The battle lord's responsibility first and foremost is to protect his queen. His second responsibility is to go out into new areas and capture and rescue opposing gangs' queens and bring them back to grow the tribes."

"And the most common weapon is the battletank. Because when martial law was declared the national guard troops had tanks go to every major city. Now you have these people outfitting, modifying, and enhancing these tanks and building these small armies. Essentially, the tribe that has the most queen-lords ensures its chances of survival. And tribes wage a never-ending war against each other."

Prepare for Battle Battletanx combines aspects from a number of tried-and-true games for what 3DO hopes will be an entertaining product with tons of replay value. Players control one of many customizable tanks on a quest to retrieve as many Queen-lords as possible. Of course, in their path will be plenty of opposing "battle lords" -- each with an arsenal of weapons and tanks of their own, ready to put an end to would-be kidnappings at every corner. Tanks, which are modeled after the M1A1 and can be upgraded with new weapons constantly, move at decidedly fast speeds through a plethora of different cities ranging from Chicago to California.

The environments in the game are fully interactive. In fact, the development team has designed each city in a way that actually encourages exploration through destruction. For example, if a building blocks the way to a near-by road, players can easily blast right through the building and move-on. The majority of structures in the game can be blasted to hell and back and some reveal secret areas.

There are three types of tanks in the game, including white motorcycle tanks, a main battle tank and a railgun. Additionally, gamers can play the game through multiple views -- behind the back, inside the tank hatch and two three-quarter angles. Each tank has its own, unique arsenal of weapons that Mendheim stresses will satisfy just about every critic. " We're going to have every weapon...We have a flame thrower, and you collect a guided missile (a rocket launcher) that will morph on the back of your tank, that's a secondary weapon in addition to your cannon. We've got a guided missile that you can switch control and steer. We have a big fat boy nuclear bomb that you can actually get and launch. It will pop out of your tank, like a grenade launcher in Quake. When the nuclear bomb explodes, we wanted to create that Independence Day blast coming down the street."

And finally, Battletanx also features a four-player split-screen deathmatch mode that will never drop below 20 frames per second for maximum carnage. Of course, the deathmatch mode feels fast and very arcade-like and players may find themselves destroying more cities than they do fellow deathmatchers. Destruction is just so much fun.

"It's the kind of game that you have a couple of friends over and you have a couple of bucks on, and it's just an easy game to play."

Look for Battletanx to arrive for Nintendo 64 in the second half of next year.

Battletanx combines elements from Tokyo Wars and Mario Kart 64 for loads of replay value

The game features a four-player split-screen deathmatch mode for maximum carnage

Players are encouraged to destory everything in the city

Tanks can be enhanced and upgraded for added power