Operation Tank Command is a 2D objective based arcade-style shooter that puts you in the driver’s seat of a tank to destroy enemy vehicles while collecting power-ups and health to stay alive. Operation Tank Command is a true spin on a familiar genre. It takes away platforming and direct shooting enemies in favor of agility and your own skill to be accurate with your cannon. It feels more like a game that’s engaging because of the rampant enemies and less fun than it should be due to the mouse aim and keyboard controls.
In a way its a pretty simple to play game, you move left and right with the A and D keys, use your mouse to control a cross hair and fire. You’ve only got two weapons, a cannon that arcs in the air so you can’t always have the cross hair on a foe, you need to have it past them. After a few shots, your tank will take a few seconds to reload. Then you have a machine gun that fires straight so you’ll need your cross hair on your enemies. The machine gun is less effective but works longer and is far more accurate. Later on you’ll trade in your machine gun for a flack cannon that is accurate and offers instantaneous explosions. Q and E keys reload their respective weapons if you have any down time between enemies.
Most objectives are played out in short maps either one screen or a few screens in length. A lot of the time the game has you surviving waves of vehicles. At first it starts out with you taking on tanks, then larger tanks and missile carriers that shower death upon you. Soon you work up to boats and aircraft. To keep it fresh, the objectives offer a variety of things from destroying an enemy base, to destroying a giant boss submarine and defending your base against invading aircraft.
Each mission has a few objectives (levels) punctuated by these more interesting diversions. It keeps the game going and you get a sense of where you are in the game. Each objective is clearly written in a briefing before the level begins along with all of the enemies you’ll be facing.
Since you’re on the same two dimensional plane as your enemies, you can pass right by them. There’s nothing stopping you other than the potential damage you’ll take by their guns. Tanks have cannons that arch. A lot of enemies have arching shots except for aircraft which directly fire at their targets. All of the projectiles are large enough to see and your tank is agile enough to dodge. You can drive under the arc of an enemy’s trajectory or just avoid projectiles all together.
Your tank has a good amount of health, but you still feel vulnerable with great enough numbers after you. When you die, the game halts so you can respawn again where you were. If you die X amount of times in each objective, then you’ll need to start the objective from the beginning. There are unlimited continues so it feels like a good sense of progression through the game.
As an arcade-style game enemies will drop power-ups for your tank, these include health kits, capacity increases and even speed boosts. All you need to do is stay alive while you have them. It makes the game more intriguing and balances things out when dozens of enemies start coming against your lone tank.
With each change in mission, the backgrounds and terrain change along with it. There’s certainly an old school retro-PC vibe to this game. Its still great art for being as simple as it is. You’ll defend jungles visit a snowy cityscape, and defend or raid airstrips. These changes in scenery really keep the game going. You’ll never see the same set of assets for too long.
Between each objective, you’re treated to a brief animation of one side bombing or destroying the other. These are quick and feel more like a good moment to catch your breath. There’s a lot of destruction, good shattering particle effects, explosions and planes will even take damage before they go streaking to the air on fire.
The game has an auto save feature that allows you to close the game and continue playing at a later time. I couldn’t find any bugs, errors or glitches, it seems to be a well programmed game. That statement is even more evident when seeing how accurate enemy trajectories are even with the arcing vector. Most shooters would have straight forward attacks, but that just wouldn’t work in a game with no jumping allowed.
In closing, this isn’t like other games that have an excess of things like crazy weapons, powers or skills. Its a simple, more refined experience that with enemy and objective variety offers something worth playing. The keyboard and mouse controls are the only thing that get in the way of my fun, but with a need for accurate aim trajectory, this is the way it has to be.