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A World War II-era tank game with 3D graphics and arcade action—how can you go wrong? Unfortunately, Tank Ace 1944 goes very, very wrong, with graphics and sound effects straight outta 1984 and gameplay that’s as bland as rice cakes. It has weird controls, awful 3D rendering, and dismal AI. And, yet, damn if this game isn’t kinda fun!
Tank Ace 1944 puts you at the third-person wheel of an Allied, German, or Soviet tank and charges you with clearing various battlefields of enemy tanks. The controls consist of various onscreen buttons; the accelerometer comes into play only when you rotate your iPhone/iPod touch, which changes the screen orientation (the game plays identically in portrait and landscape modes).
To maneuver your tank, you tap left/right and forward/reverse buttons. You can fire while moving, but for greater precision, tap another button to switch to turret mode. This grinds your tank to a halt and turns the movement controls into turret controls. There’s also an overhead-view mode for getting a 2D look at the map.
Speaking of 2D, although Tank Ace looks like a 3D game, it doesn’t act like one. The screen redraws itself whenever you pilot your tank off the edge of the screen (or turn your turret to one side), resulting in brief, but annoyingly frequent, pauses in the action. Meanwhile, the heavily pixilated landscapes barely vary from one map to the next. Only the Soviet terrain looks different, and that’s because it’s white (“snowy”) instead of green. You can blow holes in the ground, a nice touch, but otherwise Tank Ace barely comes up to Amiga graphics standards.
The game has a couple strategic elements. You can’t just blast indiscriminately, as your tank carries a limited amount of ammo. To replenish it, you must find and ram a supply truck. Meanwhile, every level ends with “ranged” combat, meaning you have to shoot across a river to destroy the final tank—and have enough ammo on hand to do it.
Despite all of Tank Ace 1944’s shortcomings, it somehow manages to be a fun game. Maybe it’s the utter simplicity of the action or the inherent thrill in blowing enemy tanks to smithereens. Either way, you’re sure to find some entertainment here, flawed though it may be.Flawed but fun, Tank Ace 1944 brings simple tank-busting action to the iPhone. Too bad the 3D rendering is half-baked.