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Battle City is an extremely well-made and revolutionary game that accomplishes feats both technological and game-dynamical in nature which are emulated, attempted to be emulated, or totally ignored (because no one can emulate it) by the games of today.
The most important feature that almost solely determines whether a computer game is a Game-of-the-Year hit has always been its graphics. Gameplay is second to graphics. Audio is second to graphics. Controls are second to graphics. If a game is made so that you can see the reflection in the mirror of the reflection on your glasses of the reflection on your gun of a high-poly mosquito with proper alpha-blended wings antialiased at x17.5 and employs the latest pixel shaders, the fact that you can only stare at this reflection and not actually move your character in any way will not deter it from it getting a game-of-the-year.
With such an importance placed on the skin-deep beauty of computer game graphics, Namco spared no expense in creating Battle City so that it makes the most out of the graphical capabilities of its intended platform. From the textures created by hand down to every last pixel to the perfect alpha blending of the foliage above your tank, this game will wow you from start to finish. And lets not forget the animated wavey water and the colorful explosions which you can experience in every level of the game.
Despite the level of detail Namco paid to the graphics of the game, the actual gameplay does not suffer, as with most beautiful games today (Remember that certain game where you land on this beautifully rendered tropical island with realistic sand, sun, and surf only to battle inside caves these neckless mutants that jump out at you from dark places?).
edit Single Player
In the single player mission, you play as Tank, a gold plated tank, in his quest to vanquish the silver tanks and protect his coveted eagle. On your quest you will battle through the black alleyways of the City, the dead carcass of the Ghost, under the thick foliage of the Jungle, and around the remains of the Giant Octopus. These missions, 35 in all, takes time ranging from minutes to hours (as you constantly die and restart the level), and when you finally beat mission 35, you will feel a great sense of accomplishment, which is most likely accompanied by an airy numbness in various parts of your body if you happened to complete the game in one marathon sitting.
Even after you have finished the 35 missions, however, this game still offers much replay value in single player mode, unlike certain other games where after the plot, nearly 90% of which are pre-rendered cutscenes, the game simply displays a "Fin" and your only option is to start from the beginning or tour the lifeless world that you have already saved from certain evil overlords or companies, Battle City allows you to experience new missions in familiar territory as you fight a souped up lineup of enemy tanks on your previously visited battlegrounds. This post-game replay system is so vast that, if you include the 35 missions in the main quest, you can have a literal two to the EIGHTH POWER number of missions to play.
Unlike other games such as the aformentioned neckless-mutants-that-jump-out-at-you-from-dark-places game and the 90%-of-your-time-will-be-spent-on-cutscenes game, Battle City is by design, non-linear. Instead of falling into the trap of having the player go through a pre-written script, such as "Proceed to Dungeon S by giving the doorman Item T which is created by an old lady in Town U from Item P and I found in Dungeon D in the far away mountains of Continent I approachable only by Ship T which you can rent by helping its owner kill Boss Y and for your efforts receiving a potion," Battle City allows the player to complete the 35 missions in any order. It balances this by giving the player the chance of beefing up Tank with a variety of Upgrades and Spare Hulls in previous, easier levels before proceeding to the later, harder levels. Also, the post 35 levels can only be completed in sequence, giving its completion a bigger sense of reward.
Another groundbreaking feature of Battle City is its Co-op Two Player Mode in which the second player play as Tank's green brother, Tank, and help Tank defeat the evil silver tanks. Battle City is the first game to feature such a style of multiplayer action, and many later games, such as a certain game about a certain supersoldier who tries to stop a certain alien race from obtaining a secret weapon that somehow turns into a zombie fest, tries to emulate.
There is also another multiplayer mode available, which is a unique twist on the now popular Deathmatch games, such as most primarily single player FPS games which includes a deathmatch multiplayer mode simply for the sake of putting "Single and Multiplayer" on its box, which includes the neckless-mutants-jump-out-at-you-from-dark-places as well as the kill-aliens-seeking-superweapon-that-somehow-turns-to-a-zombie-fest games. The 2 player VS mode in Battle City is a game of wits, timing, and nerves of steel, you and your opponent must lure each other into the incoming tanks, and then disable Tank with a well placed paralyzing round, and get out of the scene before your opponent can do the same to you, and you sit back and watch as your opponent gets blasted to bits by the enemy tanks.
Most of the tactics that are so prevalent in today's games were first pioneered by Battle City players. Tactics such as camping, sniping, rushing, and teamkilling are all valid and useful tactics in Battle city.
edit Game Physics
Battle City is possibly the first game featuring dynamically destructable terrain and buildings, which are only recently being realized with the advent of the highly technologically impressive physics coprocessors. That one game where you can shoot lamps instead of focusing on the actual gameplay is a good example. Unlike that game however, the destructable building feature allows for a new level in tactics. Are enemies patrolling a dark alleyway? blow up the walls and flank them. The destructable buildings provide an almost endless variation of gameplay tactics.
edit Artificial Intelligence
The AI tanks in this game is advanced in such a way that its both fun and occasionally surprising. It does not make the game frustrating like in the neckless-mutants-jump-out-at-you-from-dark-places game where the enemy can hear you throw a rock from 500 meters away and come and stand at the exact location the rock fell and shoot at you, from many directions, all at once, simultaneously. It also doesn't make the game too easy, such as in the kill-aliens-seeking-superweapon-that-somehow-turns-to-a-zombie-fest game where your enemies actually run away from you when you fire a single shot (and kills an enemy leader, but that's not important).
The AI in Battle City does not attempt to surround you on all sides, it never does, ever, leading us to assume that Namco created sophisticated anti-surround code; it also never have all enemy tanks head for your base all at once, which would create a chaotic and fanatic impossible-to-resolve frustrating problem for the player.
That said, the AI tanks will sometimes blow through the Destructable Terrain to hit your base from where you least expect, as well as suddenly turn in the middle of going down a long alley, making your well timed and well placed shot that took the player 2 minutes to set up completely worthless. These behaviors will surely keep the player on their toes without them having a cardiac arrest or nitrogen poisoning (due to hyperventilation).