Scorched Earth is a simple, yet very exciting artillery combat game, based on a long line of artillery games that began with Atari's classic Lunar Lander. On its most basic level, Scorched Earth is a two-player tank action game with simple controls. You adjust the power and angle of your gun, then fire to blow up other tanks. That's basically it – nothing Lunar Lander veterans haven't seen before. |
What elevates the game beyond clone-hood is its complexity. You can play with up to nine other players at a time, mixing computer players with humans (with a teamplay mode available). The game offers a wide range of weather conditions and terrains, each of which affect your shots in ways that obey the laws of physics. You earn money from successful battles, and use it to invest in additional weapons and accessories. The game boasts over thirty weapons, some of which are quite imaginative such as the fearsome Death's Head and the Napalm. Using powerful weapons can vaporize the landscape, and you can even use a "sandhog" to burrow a hole beneath your opponents and watch them fall to their deaths. Accessories, of which there are fifteen, are divided into Guidance Systems, Defense Systems, and Miscellaneous. Guidance System accessories are various types of homing weapons, e.g. heat seaking missiles. Defense Systems include parachutes and shields. The Miscellaneous category has other useful gadgets such as Fuel Tanks that allow your tank to move around the battlefield. The interface takes some getting used to, and you must memorize a few keyboard shortcuts, but it's a breeze once done with that. Last but not least, you can even choose the enemy tanks' behavior if you play against the computer. For example, "moron" is self-explanatory, "poolshark" tries to rebound shots off the walls and ceilings to hit you, and "spoiler" is very tough to play against because it will land an almost perfect shot every time.
With a plethora of options and truly addictive gameplay, While Scorched Earth may not be "The Mother of All Games" as it proclaims on the official site, it's one of the best two-player games you'll ever play, and a design that truly stands the test of time. Two thumbs up!
Reviewed by: Underdogs