They say working in the delivery business is a tough gig, but ConnecTank takes it to a whole new level. In the combative world of New Pangea you’ll have to successfully fight a variety of enemy tanks in order to complete your rounds. This doesn’t play out in the way you may think however, as you don’t actually do the fighting.
Each mission in ConnecTank requires you to travel across a randomly generated map. There are various branching paths available to you, offering you a choice in which way to go. You’ll face several enemy tanks, but can also pick-up extra loot, chests, visit the shop to buy items or repair your tank (tune-up), as well as other mysteries which you will discover as you go.
You’ll engage in battles using your very own tank, but your job is to keep the ammunition flying rather than driving around and simply shooting down your enemies. Firstly, building a functioning production line is key to feeding ammo to the tank cannons. This is done by slotting pieces of track together which are all moving in the same direction.
Once complete, you’ll need to combine various scrap elements in differing ways according to the blueprints which pop up on screen. Incorrect combinations will fire generic scrap, which is not very effective. Doing so correctly will create your ammunition, and send it down the conveyors to be fired at your enemy.
There is a lever, which when hit will change the height at which your projectile is fired (referred to as the top and bottom lanes). The battle itself can be viewed at the top of your screen, which will also inform your next move.
Of course, the challenge here comes as you frantically craft ammunition whilst at the same time trying to counter enemy fire across both lanes, consisting of varying types of projectiles. The vast majority of ammo will be yellow, blue or red and each is specifically strong and weak against another type. Learning these can be absolutely crucial to victory with no time to spare, or make mistakes, when bullets are flying.
This is where your ability to throw items comes in. Your mechanic has a decent throwing range, as well as being skilled enough to be able to choose which way around a conveyor belt part will land. Not only this, but chucking parts into the recycletron (this essentially combines scrap to create ammo) is much quicker too. If you attempt to run around and pick up and drop parts, you will become overwhelmed rather quickly.
You can also unlock special ammunition, including those which change altitude as they travel through the air, or speed up any other in-flight bullets sending them hurtling towards your rival much more quickly. Another way to speed up how fast your projectiles travel is by scoring combination combos. Hit five, and the action starts to speed up meaning you can quite easily outmanoeuvre your enemy.
Both your own, and enemy tanks have HP which need to be depleted to win the battle. As you take damage, little cogs will start to appear meaning you will need to carry out some speedy repairs before it’s too late. Some enemies will also spawn monsters that cause mayhem inside your tank, such as stealing parts or damaging the converter belts. Giving them a good pasting the old fashioned way (ie with your fists) is the only way to see them off.
Victory will earn you some cash, as well as a part of the specific type of tank you have defeated. Each has five, and once you have discovered them all you will unlock that tank to play as in any mission you choose. There are over seventy to collect, each with their own unique stats and quirky designs. This will certainly keep the completionists busy for a good while.
ConnecTank is a simple, but entertaining strategy game. It’s certainly repetitive, and something of a slow burner. However, the core gameplay mechanic is designed well enough to make battles engaging, and the randomly generated nature of the tanks and maps help to keep the action fresh.
However, ConnecTank is rather easy. In fact, even on the default difficulty I found it far too easy. This meant I had to do what I rarely consider doing, increasing it to “hard”. This certainly upped the challenge, but not to anything particularly taxing. This is potentially because the game is aimed at kids, but the lack of challenge does mean the repetitive nature of the game can start to move into sharp focus. Before long I realised that if you get your conveyor belt set up quickly, and start firing off ammunition before your enemy, you’re very unlikely to lose.
In between missions you can also check out the “Gotankme” app where you’ll be able to research new Ammo and M.O.D. projects, which will then spawn at random in future missions. This will of course cost you cash, and each item will only be available for a limited time. There are loads to unlock too, meaning that each mission plays out very differently due to the sheer amount of combinations available.
It’s here where you can also pay to have the very friendly Bonnie and her robot pal BRQ-1 search for tank parts to build up your collection even more quickly. The more funding you commit, the greater the chance they will produce the goods.
Visually, ConnecTank’s anime style characters are pretty intriguing. They reminded me somewhat of the commanding officers in the excellent Advance Wars, sharing a very similar style. Personalities such as Finneas Fat Cat XV and the other barons certainly have charm, and add a little light comedy to the narrative. Some of the animations can appear a little fuzzy, but overall it’s pleasing on the eye.
There is also the option to play with your mates locally, or via “Remote Play Together”. This allows you to play cooperatively, but there is no option to play competitively. This will mean more mechanics are in the tank, therefore communication is key to ensure the correct ammunition is crafted. However, once you’ve cracked it, Co-op makes battles even less challenging than in single player, although arguably more fun.
ConnecTank’s central mechanic is surprisingly well realised, backed up with plenty to flesh out the world of New Pangea. However, due to the repetitive and somewhat simplistic gameplay this is one the casual gamers will enjoy the most.
ConnecTank is available from the Xbox Store