The long awaited sequel to the popular Tank Hero from Clapfoot has finally arrived, in Tank Hero: Laser Wars. This app improves on the original in many ways, but it's also severely lacking in others. While the graphics and music have gotten a big upgrade, there is far less content. While the added mechanics make each mission much more strategic than ever, there just isn't that much to go around. It's still a well made game that I cautiously recommend.
While the last Tank Hero offered 120 levels and three game modes, this latest entry cuts most of that away. The campaign features sixty episodes across two distinct environments, and Time Trial and Survival mode are nowhere to be found. In terms of the shorter campaign, I can't complain too much. There is less than before, sure, but what they lack in quantity they make up for in quality. The level design itself is much stronger thanks to the new mechanics. Brightly colored plasma blasts and laser beams replace the cannon shells of olde, and different force fields, one that blocks projectiles and another that blocks vehicles, definitely mix things up. Later missions introduce gateways that segment the map apart and add another layer of challenge. A lot of the strategy involves intelligently bouncing your projectiles off the walls and such. It's sad that the alternate game modes are absent, but let's be honest, the campaign of the first game was pretty repetitive.
You can choose to play with virtual D-pads or with the swipe control system. The swipe controls take some getting used to, but they are far more versatile in the end. Another nifty new addition are the boss battles with absolutely massive enemy tanks. You can also take part in split screen multiplayer, though you'll probably need a tablet device to make it work out. The new visuals are a massive improvement over the last game. Consistent and holistic sci-fi elements comprise the environments and tanks, and the colorful neon projectiles and force fields make the game far more appealing visually. The music is also pretty epic. For some reason, OpenFeint achievements and leaderboards have been dropped in favor of an in-game offline system. I find it strange that they seem to have regressed in terms of online connectivity rather than expanded on those features. While the original game offered more content and was completely free, this new title is available for three dollars at the time of this review. I'll be perfectly honest in saying that I'm not sure it's worth a purchase given the small amount of content, as good as it may be. I still found it to be quite enjoyable, and who knows? Maybe other modes and levels will be added in future updates. As it stands, it's hard to totally recommend this game in its current form, though fans of the first will still probably enjoy it.