Title: Bugs vs. Tanks
Release Date: June 20, 2013
Publisher (Developer): Level 5 (Comcept)
ESRB Rating: Teen for Fantasy Violence and Language
Bugs vs. Tanks wasn’t the kind of game I expected to jump out of the mind of Keiji Inafune and his team at Comcept. The fact that this kind of game even exists is perplexing in its own right. Given its odd premise, I was quite curious to check out what Comcept had in store with this game. After playing it, my general impression is Bugs vs. Tanks is a decent game, but it probably won’t hold your attention for very long.
Bugs vs. Tanks stars a World War II German tank battalion that has been shrunk down to a near microscopic level. They’re so small, something as simple as a water droplet is enough to either drown them, or satisfy the thirsts of the soldiers for a decent period of time. At the same time, their tiny stature makes giants out of every insect they encounter. Throughout the adventure, you’ll be tasked with completing tasks that range from supply gathering to rescue missions. Each mission stands by itself and can be completed in a few minutes.
As the title suggests, your primary weapon in this game are tanks. The tanks are armed with a gun turret and a cannon. Both weapons fire automatically by default, but you can choose to shoot manually if you want. I didn’t see a reason to take on the roles of gunner and driver because the computer handles this task well. The only thing you have to do is point the cannon in the direction of something you want to see dead. Moving the tank is done with the analog stick. Advancing forward is easy enough, but reversing in the tank is a bit weird. Reversing the tanks is the opposite of how you would a car. It may take some time for your brain to process this information, but in the meantime, you’ll end up making some directional errors.
No matter what mission you take, you’re going to run into hostile bugs of some kind. You’ll encounter ants, termites, dung beetles, mosquitoes, bees and spiders to name a few. Taking out most of these bugs is easy when it’s a one-on-one fight, but you will get demolished if they gang up on you. At about half way through the game, the bugs have a tendency to absolutely wreck you on some stages. The spike in difficulty was sudden and kind of unfair. The tanks have a hard time outrunning a single ant, let alone standing its ground against four bugs at once. Should this ever happen to you, you can relay a SOS signal to your battalion which makes them rain down artillery from afar. You can only do this once per level, so it should only be used for the most dire of situations.
Tough Tanks, Rough Visuals
As you progress through the game, you’ll unlock new customizations for your tank from either salvaging abandoned tanks or just completing missions. This is probably the best feature in Bugs vs. Tanks. You can select different turrets, shell types and paint colors for any situation. You want to take out invading moths with a pink tank? Go right ahead. The tanks will show different stats depending on what’s equipped on them. The strength of some of the tanks you find are noticeable as well. The standard German Panzer chassis and turret combo can take down an ant in a couple shots, but a more powerful Russian turret with another chassis can one-shot certain ants. Believe it or not, there is a bit of strategy in this game. When you’re doing a base defense mission, it’s a good idea to deploy your most powerful tank so you won’t spend too much time on one enemy. In timed missions, speed is very important.
Visuals are not this game’s strong suit. The textures are also rough. The bugs themselves are presented well enough to immediately distinguish one from another. For example, it’s easy to tell a termite from a regular ant. I played the game with the 3D off for the most part, but the added depth does make your tank and the bugs stand out more.
In the end, Bugs vs. Tanks is entertaining, but there’s no hook to make you want to keep going. Customizing the tanks is a great addition, but the missions themselves are mostly recycled versions of the same thing. Whether you’re killing a certain number of bugs, rescuing an ally or avoiding the rain, it wears thin after a while. The occasional difficulty spikes are also off-putting and frequently result in no-win situations. That being said, I did have more fun with this game than I expected. In fact, I’d even play a sequel if improvements were made. Hey Comcept, make this game again, but make it like Monster Hunter. That would be simply awesome.