Written by  :  Pix (1205)
Written on  :  Jul 16, 2008
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  3.75 Stars3.75 Stars3.75 Stars3.75 Stars3.75 Stars

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An introduction to A.I. programming.

The Good

In this game, you play a tank designer who must build the ultimate tank, choosing the components and programming the A.I. the tank will use. You can get promotion by winning 7 out of 10 test battles against a pre-designed tank, which then gives you more cash to improve your tank and try for another promotion against a more advanced opponent. The tanks you come up against as you try to do this are very well designed and will punish you for different flaws in your A.I. leading you to have to improve it every time.

This might not be the only tank programming game but it's in a fairly select group with no other real competition at the time. There is no way in the world one of the world's leading game publishers would put out a game like this any more either. The manual you have to read must be about 300 pages long and you will not get anywhere in the game without using it. The programming language used is fairly easy for beginners to get into and reads like English.

The interface of the game is well done and can be driven using the mouse. You can even program the A.I. using a mouse to select the commands on screen. Sooner or later you will need to delve into the commands which are not supported this way.

The options for the tank and A.I. are endless. Developing the ultimate tank A.I. would be a serious challenge. You can even have battles with teams of tanks that can communicate with each other. As you progress in the game, special options become available which can be added to your A.I. such as a satellite link launcher to scan the whole battlefield, or a radar jammer to stop other tanks locking onto you. All this gradually increases the complexity. You can even program your tank to accept keyboard commands if you want.

You can fight other peoples tanks and the documentation mentions a BBS that could be used for this and details of a competition that was coming up. The multiplayer potential along with being able to design your own battlefields gives the game some real longevity.

The Bad

Waiting for the tanks to fight 10 times can be a long slow process when you try to advance a level. The maps the tanks fight on are quite large and sometimes they just can't seem to find each other. The game could have done with a fast forward button in these situations. This can be improved greatly by tightening up your search routines of course.

The Bottom Line

This is very different to any other game I've ever tried and still playable years later because of it. It's a bit too similar to the day job for my liking but would certainly be educational for anyone who has never done any programming.