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Heavy Weapon

A Flash game that plays like a Flash game should.
Heavy Weapon: Atomic Tank is something that you wouldnít quite expect to find on the Playstation Network. Itís a side-scrolling shoot Ďem up title by PopCap Games thatís youíd expect to see on flash game websites. Thatís not surprising, considering that PopCap is one of the first companies to really make simple web based games succeed when everyone thought that flash games were limited to being advert supported. Some of their more famous games include the internet sensation Bejeweled, Feeding Frenzy, Peggle, and Rocket Mania.

In Heavy Weapon, you wonít find a convoluted story line, emotionally deep villain, or even a typical hero. The game supports several offline and online modes, all of which are mainly different variations on the core game play; surviving and getting as many points as possible. For offline mode, there is the normal Mission mode, Survival, and also Boss Battle. Online, youíll just find War Party, and Arms Race Ė both of which are Co-Op only.


Like many of PopCapís other games, Heavy Weapon is a game that wonít require hours of learning and tutorial missions that slowly ease you into the game. A simple 30 second instructional demo is all thatís needed to teach the gameplay mechanics, which involves the use of both analog sticks and the right trigger button. Once you get past the instruction, youíll be faced with the normal missions that you complete in order to unlock weapons and weapon points that can be used to upgrade weapons. The upgrade system is quite fun, as youíre always trying to find the best combinations of weapon upgrades, since you canít simply just get all of them; at least not early on. The gameís list of weapons is short, but theyíre enough to get the job done. They include the usually mix of rockets, missiles, lasers, flak cannons, lightning, and defensive orbs to help your better survive the harsh landscapes. Much of the gameís fun can be found by simply mixing and matching weapon upgrades for your tank and seeing how the work out for whatever mission you happen to do be try to beat. In fact, each mission will require slightly different weapons, since the enemies you encounter will sometimes change from mission to mission. For example, in one mission I had to use fast firing flak cannons against a ton of diving suicide planes that didnít require much firepower to destroy. I could have used slower weapons that pack a greater punch, like the laser, but that would have been too slow to deal with the multiple suicide planes. So for that instance, flak was the answer. In the next mission however, I had to deal with heavily armored tanks on the ground, which required the use of the heavy hitting lasers since the flak cannon was virtually useless the tanks. Speaking of heavily armored tanks, the game isnít very forgiving in its difficulty and there isnít a magic slider bar that lets you off on easy mode. Youíre stuck playing the game that the developers wanted to you play. Level repeats happen often, and many times youíll find yourself doubting your choice of weapons.

In terms of multiplayer, Heavy Weapon keeps it simple; there are two modes only, War Party and Arms Race. Both are Co-Op games, since Heavy Weapon isnít exactly a game that easily lends itself to death match. Can you imagine two opponents playing chicken with tanks on a 2D plane? In Arms Race, all players are stuck with two lives and must survive as long as possible, with the last survivor basically being declared the winner. This is fun for a while, but comparing scores and survival times is pretty limited. The other multiplayer mode is War Party, and games in this mode can last for hours on end, quite literally, since the game continues as long as there is always one player alive. In War Party, each player has unlimited lives, but each time you die there is a respawn counter that gets longer and longer the more often you die. This may sound like games never end, but usually 20-30 minutes into War Party, the game gets insanely hard, and with four players youíll have a tough time just keeping track of your tank, power ups, enemies, and stray bombs. More often than not, youíll die simply because you didnít see that missile coming right at you. War Party is the mode that will most likely keep drawing you back into the game.


If youíve played high quality online flash games before, then you basically know how Heavy Weapon looks, as the graphics are all on a simple 2D plane without all the fancy effects that you see in games like Final Fantasy. Theyíre not excellent, but then again then again theyíre not horrible. There are some nags about the graphics that can affect gameplay however. In many shoot Ďem ups out in arcades now, there is a growing trend to make games super hard (ever play Strikers 1945 Plus?) but thatís canceled out by the fact that for a hit to actually register against you, the shot actually has to hit the very center of your plane/tank/whatever. The center is basically only a few pixels in diameter, and the rest of your unit of destruction is invincible. Unfortunately, Heavy Weapon ascribes to the tons of bullets belief, but makes your entire tank a rolling billboard of a hit box. In some worst case scenarios, youíll be destroyed by what shouldnít even be considered hits at all.


Heavy Weaponís soundtrack probably saved PopCap a ton of money, seeing how itís made up on only a few eclectic rock songs. They do suffice for most of the game, but you wonít hear any top 40s hits on there. What makes it worse is that the music function of the PS3 canít be used to play any of your own music during the game. As for the sounds effects in the game, they do sound a tad weak and barely able to overcome the music on the normal settings.


If Heavy Weapon feels like an online Flash Game at any time, youíll be happy to know that it basically is. Thereís fun to be had here for sure, but itís not the same type of fun that you get from a long epic story. Itís the type of fun that you get in short bursts when you have some extra time, or from a single player arcade game. Itís a fun game, but once you beat single player, youíll just be coming back to play multiplayer until it gets too hard to find people to play with.