Armor Attack for the Vectrex is a home version of the arcade game released two years prior. Now, I must admit that I’m not familiar with the arcade version. So, this review will be based solely on the Vectrex gameplay — not the accuracy of the translation. Anyone who has played Combat on the Atari 2600 will feel right at home with Armor Attack. You view a top-down playing field and drive a jeep while attempting to shoot tanks and helicopters. Ostensibly, you’re driving around city blocks that provide cover and serve as an easily navigable maze.
Interestingly, players use either the buttons or the joystick to control the direction of their tank. Iâ€™d guess that this would be one of the earlier games to allow players such a choice.
The game is pretty straightforward. Tanks require two hits to be taken out. After the first hit, they’re immobile, but can still fire from their rotating turret. The helicopter can be downed with just one missile. I found the helicopter easier to take out, but from gameplay terms, it isn’t supposed to be. You get far more points for shooting down the helicopter, and the satisfying visual of watching it spin out of control.
You can play Armor Attack solo or with a partner. In the two-player game, you can’t accidentally shoot each other, which can be a bonus or a drawback depending on your mood. After one player dies, the other player soldiers on alone until they also die. That means the dead player could have some long wait times before resuming the game.
Game sounds are nothing special. The game starts off with a satisfying militaristic drum march, but then devolves into some fairly standard audio effects in the game. Particularly annoying are the squeaking of the tank treads.
I’m ambivalent about the overlay for Armor Attack. On one hand, it provides a very appropriate army green hue for the game. On the other hand, its depictions of rubble seem to float over the city blocks. I think if it simply had color rather than graphics, it would be much improved.
Armor Attack surprised me. I didn’t have high expectations going into it, but I found it a compelling experience that drew me back for more. It is a solid choice on the Vectrex — especially if you keep the volume low (i just edited all the armor’s to armor… and then back again when I realized I was the tool – Ed).