Abrams Battle Tank

The M1 Abrams is a US battle tank which, according to Wikipedia, was used in battle in the ’90 Gulf war and the ’03 Iraq war. The Abrams Battle Tank game is from 1988. Because no prior battles had been fought with the tank, public enemy number 1 at the time was picked: the Soviets. You’ll fight a series of fictional battles against a (quoting the manual) “large mediocre force” of Soviet tanks. I think I can see some Cold War propaganda seeping through in this game.

My steel barrel shooting hot loads in your face

My steel barrel shooting hot loads in your face

No reason to worry though, if this is an attempt to  influence the subconscious then it’s a fun one anyway. The main menu gives choices between playing a scenario, the campaign (which seems simply all the scenarios after each other) and some information about this spectacular army toy and its various weapons.

Sir yes sir!

Sir yes sir!

Each scenario is preceded by a completely useless “briefing”, or rather pep talk. After your mission you’ll get a debriefing which incorporates your behavior during the mission – meeting your objectives is quite different from running away from your tank, which is still quite different from running away from your tank after taking out all your allies and an innocent farm. I don’t want to give you any ideas there…

Thermal scanning, complete with hot trees

Thermal scanning (AKA night vision), complete with hot trees

Missions seem varied, with some examples begin an escort mission, base assault or area defense against multiple attack waves. But in the end it’s just you against a bunch of other tanks, with sometimes a helicopter or anti-tank infantry unit thrown in the mix. There’s really not much variance in all that, except you can kill the infantry by driving over it which you can’t do with other tanks, and there’s special heat-seeking ammunition to destroy the helicopters with.

You can climb some hills for a little variation in viewpoint

You can climb some hills for a little variation in viewpoint

Controlling your tank is more arcade than simulation business. You control tank and turret simply with the arrow keys. Select a target with the enter key, fire with space. Mind you, there’s no real need to aim – just press “L” and the gun will try to auto-lock on the selected enemy. You can see the action from 4 different positions, but you only need the gunner’s view. The only other important controls are the munition selection and perhaps the smoke release, used as defensive measure.

Don’t expect a full-blown tank simulation from this game, but if all you want is a simple arcade-like tank shooter, then this fits the bill perfectly. 7/10.

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