Assault Rigs never achieves the full potential of its futuristic theme, with level design and gameplay elements that are surprisingly unexciting. After wading through an extensive series of title and menu screens, youâ€™ll select one of three battle tanks (the types vary according to the levelâ€™s setting) — each with varying degrees of armor, speed, agility, etc. — and then use your rig to navigate multi-level mazes filled with gates, ramps, and elevators. And thatâ€™s where things start to go astray.
Instead of providing a variety of objectives for each level (destroy X number of enemy units, or navigate through hazards in order to find one all-important important item), Assault Rigs uses the standard arcade motif of forcing the player to collect a certain number of items (gems, in this case) before you can move on. Of course, youâ€™ll face a number of obstacles, ranging from enemy tanks and turrets to hazardous mines and electrified walls, but these are more nuisances than worthy adversaries. Itâ€™s not a dreadful concept, itâ€™s just that once youâ€™ve seen the dramatic opening animation of tanks being ripped to shreds by massive barrages of incoming fire, the idea of looking for gems just seems a bit absurd.
The controls are by far a more urgent problem in Assault Rigs. Four views are available; an overhead view, an in-tank view, and two behind-the-tank views. The views from behind are optimum for navigation and combat, but as you approach walls or low overhangs, the view jumps abruptly as the program tries to keep your tank in view. The overhead view is good for spotting items hidden on higher levels, but makes it impossible to control your tank for any stretch of time. The in-tank view is easily the most entertaining view and doesnâ€™t exhibit the jerking screen shifts of the other views, but since most of the levels are designed for the external views, youâ€™re likely to miss important power-ups and items if you stick with this first-person perspective.
The only solution is to constantly switch in and out of the various views, trying to avoid the pitfalls of each as you guide your tank through the labyrinthine levels. On the plus side, the controls for both the tank and views are easy to learn, and response times are quick and decidedly un-tank-like. Another plus is the variety of multi-player options that help make up for the lackluster single-player experience by allowing you to battle it out with friends or enemies over a local-area network.
In the end, though, the single-player experience is barely entertaining, sometimes annoying, and extremely predictable. If the designers had placed more emphasis on actually using the unique qualities of these tanks for huge multi-tank battles, it couldâ€™ve been a blast. As it is, Assault Rigs is a flawed, mindless action game.
System Requirements: 80486DX2, 8 MB RAM, DOS
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