Monday 29 June 2015

Armor Attack (Vectrex review)

Developer: GCE
Publisher: GCE
Released: 1982

Armor Attack is a 1-2 player tank battle game that was originally released in the Arcades in 1980 by Cinematronics.

You control a tank and your job is to destroy wave-after-wave of enemy tanks and helicopters. Button 3 thrusts your vehicle while 4 fires from your turret. Movement is handled via the analog stick but it's easy to overshoot your intended target due to the sensitivity. Thankfully, buttons 1-2 allow you to rotate in smaller increments helping you to line up your shot perfectly. Helicopters are tricky to target as they move around quickly but you only need to shoot them once. Tanks are slower but they require two hits; the first shot disables their movement and the second destroys them completely. You must be careful while doing the latter as they can still fire bullets at you. Scattered around the environment are blocks which act as protection against incoming fire. These are great for hiding behind but the enemies always know exactly where you are so you can't really surprise them! The action gets progressively faster and more intense as additional tanks join the battle and it's fun experimenting with different methods of attack. I found it best to keep moving at all times (especially when helicopters are on screen) and peek round corners to take out tanks rather than engaging them in open spaces. The game only allows you to shoot two bullets at a time; although this might seem like a limitation it actually works in its favour as it forces you to plan your attack rather than going in 'all guns blazing'. The two player co-op mode is excellent but the screen wobbles a fair bit when there's too many vehicles on screen. There's also a separate mode where the scenery is invisible but it's rock-hard and more of a gimmick than something you'd sit down and play for enjoyment.

Armor Attack is a very playable title that's easy to get into but difficult to master. It doesn't have much depth but if you like Combat (1977, Atari 2600) give this one a go as it features a solid single player mode that was sorely lacking in that game.

Random trivia: Armor Attack is one of only three Vectrex games to support two-player co-op. The others are Rip Off (1982) and Space Wars (1982).

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