WDL is DOA.
There's this cool new show on Comedy Central called Battlebots. It's basically a high school physics project that involves building a violent doohicky fit for combat. Yup, those nerds you were forced to team-up with in Chem class are now calling the shots as veritable Dr. Frankensteins, creating giant robots of death. These robots are placed in a deathmatch pit, complete with radial saws, smashing hammers, and small explosions, for the sheer sake of glorious carnage.
Destruction, robots, and nerds. Sounds like a sweet recipe, both original and creative. Battlebots is everything World Destruction League League: Thunder Tanks is not.
Sure, WDL tries to blind you with some bells and whistles, with its supposed attitude and promises of rampant carnage, but all it really comes down to is a bland first-person shooter with tanks. Add uninspired control and supbar presentation, then run like hell.
WDL tries to combine elements of Twisted Metal, Battletanx and a first-person shooter into some fun mayhem league in the vein of professional wrestling. But instead of a tight fusion, you get fission - concepts we've all played before, and far better.
At the very least, WDL is a step above its Playstation counterpart, that piece of unplayable garbage. Still, as a PS2 game it really doesn't do much to impress or take advantage of the hardware.
You start WDL with a large range of tanks of different qualities and sizes. You can play as larger, slower tanks or zippy fast tanks. None of them are interesting to control. Some tanks are equipped with a strafe, making them a touch more mobile. Simple enough, but you just don't feel like you're driving a tank so much as wandering around in a first-person shooter with a cannon strapped to your forehead.
The single player game is made up of round after round of the typical action game hoo-ha. For example, the classic Capture the Flag. But not just traditional Capture the Flag...repetitive Capture the Flag. One arena has you grabbing a flag 5 times; go get it, and then roll back to base. Rinse and repeat. All well and good when you're running around on foot, but in a plodding tank...not how I define fun on a Sunday afternoon.
Another stage goal involves gaining control of a bunch of transmitters. Control is gained by placing your tank on a transmitter and waiting for the color to turn from your opponents to your own. This is probably the most interesting of all the levels, though it's still pretty mundane.
The standard camera is set right behind the tank, making for a crummy third-person game. You can also toggle between an awkward first-person cam or the sky cam, which is the only really playable view. Suddenly, you can see things in front of your tank and the arena in which you are fighting. The game sort of takes on an old-school arcade feel where you move your tank against a 2D playing field and shoot other tanks. It's almost fun.
The Playstation version of WDL made me think I had cataracts or some serious clods of dirt in my eye. Yessir, that game defined grainy. The PS2 is miles sharper and clearer, but still doesn't look too hot. You may get some shiny effects here and there with the shooting and explosions, but suffice it to say this game doesn't look inspired.
There are sparks of creativity with the FMVs, thanks in part to the wacky announcers. One's a big, burly Stone Cold type and the other is a blonde bombshell with quite the revealing chest. A little too much fake attitude for me, but still might elicit a chuckle or two.
Do you like metal music? Not the kind on electric guitars, but the type that you played as a child with pots and pans? Banging utensils until Mom yells at you to stop? Hope so, because the music is comprised of dismal, hackneyed metal tunes that sound like they came from some high schooler's garage. A deaf high schooler, I should say.
Word Destruction League: Thunder Tanks tries hard with a macho attitude, but there isn't anything satisfying underneath. Instead, you get a mish mash of tired game concepts thrown into an industrial blender, fingers crossed that the pulpy results will come out a tasty brew. WDL for PS2 is the game the Playstation version should have been, but nothing more. It's less than mediocre and, most importantly, not much fun.