Seek and Destroy
System: Playstation 2
Publisher: Conspiracy Entertainment
Developer: Takara
Released: December 2002
Genre: Action/Strategy
Capabilities: Memory Card

Review Written: June 24, 2003

I donít know what has gotten over me, but I have gotten this serious knack for budget titles as of late. I think it is just my quest to find the quintessential $10 game. Rest assured, none of the god-awful Spec Ops titles will be in there. Anyways, I was at my local Best Buy recently and was digging through all the PS2 budget titles thinking there hasnít been one I played yet. At the far end of the pack there was a title by Conspiracy Entertainment called Seek and Destroy. Right off the bat the game got on my good side by being named after a Metallica song, but it didnít stay there for much longer.

Seek and Destroy is a tank combat game involving an interesting story and plays quite similar to the pair of BattleTanx games on the N64. The storyline is a bit confusing, and in the sheer fashion itís told in might end up turning you off. I kid you not, once you start your quest on the single player adventure text scrolls up the screen exactly like the beginning in all the Star Wars movies! In a nutshell, two empires are at war, and you venture out on the good side (dubbed the Protons) as you are about to be crushed by your evil foes (named the Q-Stein) at your own home base. From there you make your way across the country regaining all your lost territories and hoping to vanquish Q-Stein once and for all. I bet Q-Bert is getting jealous right now though.

When I started up gameplay, maneuvering my tank around was a major pain. The left analog stick is used for both maneuvering your tank around and rotating the tank turret. One of them is moved depending on how much pressure is applied to the analog stick. This horrible system caused me for moving in many directions I didnít want to, and messed up the overall controls from the get go. Other controls for the tanks include firing your main and sub-weapons with the X, Square, and Circle buttons.

The main story mode plays out a bit awkward at first. Textboxes appear for whenever the tanks talk to each other, well I guess the tank operators are actually talking because the game gives names for whoever is talking in the textboxes, but no portraits of the operators at all are to be found, thus leading me to believe the tanks are actually talking to each other. The truth is out there dammit! Anyways the first mission has you repelling the Q-Steinís final attack on the Protonís main base. Once you crush their forces you get out of your base and move into an overhead 3D map, much like the way an RPG does from entering/exiting towns to the world map. From there, I maneuvered my tank around the world map until I came across another town or mission icon.

There are a total of 25 missions in the single player mode and I was surprised that some of them actually involved more than just winning skirmishes against the Q-Stein. Some missions actually involve some strategy where I had to blow up a bridge before the Q-Stein forces reached there. At home base and other towns there are shops to purchase upgrades and new weapons for my tank. There are also ďarenasĒ to do one-on-one battles against an AI opponent for cash. Speaking of the AI, it fluctuates at how good it is. There are times where it is all over me laying a good whooping on my tank, and times where itíll just sit there when I fire homing missile after homing missile on it until itís done for.

There are a few extra ways to play Seek and Destroy than the main mission mode. There is an option to go head-to-head against a friend or against the A.I. in three difficulties (easy, hard, and get this: MIDDLE). Or you can go against a pal in one of sixteen mini games such as water races and competing in shooting the most targets in a given time limit.

I donít know how I should go about describing how far behind the graphics are, they are about somewhere between Playstation and Nintendo 64 quality. And I think Iím being quite generous with that statement. The texturing is so simple and lacking of detail that all the tanks and buildings look as bad as any other game on the market. Even the explosions donít look that spectacular. Also clipping is a major issue as I consistently see my tank going through buildings and terrains. Very poor effort involved here, then again Iím not surprised by its budget status, but Iíve seen other budget titles do much better.

The audio is practically nonexistent; as a matter of fact it was nonexistent at the beginning of the game. I swear this is the first title that has the background music and sound effects muted as default settings. This is probably due to the lack of effort also involved in this department. The few happy melody background tracks would get the job done for a cheesy Saturday morning cartoon show, but they donít even belong in a game based on war. Hell, the background music for freaking Advance Wars on the GBA is better than this pile of crud. The few sound effects for gunfire and explosions are nothing you havenít heard before and will not leave any lasting impressions.

I tried getting my buddy to play the head-on-head mini games with me, but within five minutes he didnít want to touch the game again, and I donít blame him either. Believe it or not, the single player mission mode is probably the best aspect of Seek and Destroy with enough gameplay variety to mix things up and plenty of tanks to unlock by completing it. But it only took me about four hours to beat all the 25 missions available. After that, there wasnít really much else to keep me hooked.

RATINGS

Graphics: 1.8
Sound: 0.4
Gameplay: 5.5
Replay Value: 2.0

Overall: 2.4

I really thought this game was going to be good. I guess it is just the curse of the budget status. As it stands, Seek and Destroy lives up to its $10 budget price. The only thing going for this game is the mission mode, but after you take the few hours to beat it there is nothing else is left to do. If youíre really looking for a good tank combat game, Iíd recommend 3DOís World Destruction League Thunder Tanks. Itís pretty much a straight up sequel to the excellent Battletanx games on the N64, and since its over two years old it can also be found in bargain bins for around $10 as well.

On a final note, I hope the publisher at Conspiracy Entertainment are happy, they have disgraced Metallica! Just watch, they'll sue them like they did Napster!

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