Scorched Earth is a deceptively simple game with more depth than initially meets the eye. The turn-based gameplay could not be more straightforward: pick a weapon and take your shot. What makes the game interesting is its physics model and array of high-powered weapons, which should appeal to those who enjoy strategy games like Worms.
Scorched Earth's graphics aren't its strongest feature. Land is essentially one solid color with the most decorative background being a black night sky with white dots representing stars. With the default setting of five tanks, it's unlikely you'll see more than 12 colors on screen at one time and five of those are just the different colors for each tank. Sound effects aren't much better. The only things you'll hear coming from the speakers are rudimentary beeps and "bloops" that were acceptable five years prior.
Despite the basic presentation, Scorched Earth still manages to distinguish itself with its detailed and versatile physics model. From the title screen you can adjust attributes like wind speed, gravity, and air viscosity. You can also adjust screen edges to have such characteristics as bounce or wraparound. The way a battle arena is configured has a noticeable effect on how the battle plays out as the prevailing wind, air viscosity, and edge settings can significantly influence or even completely invalidate your battle strategy.
This gives each new game of Scorched Earth a different feel. There are random hazards like meteors and lightning strikes. You can also set the economic conditions for the game by adjusting the amount of initial cash available. By lowering the amount of cash, you can turn the game into a shooter's match with players hoarding their precious guidance systems and super weapons for the perfect shot. Alternatively, you can create a wild free-for-all by raising the amount of cash present, guaranteeing every shot will be a nuke or something equivalent in power.
Scorched Earth's graphical and aural deficiencies can be forgiven to some extent as it was created as shareware and not as a traditional retail product. If you are willing to overlook the presentation, you'll find a unique and enjoyable game. The variety of settings and options makes for a rewarding single-player experience, but Scorched Earth truly shines as a multiplayer party game with its easy learning curve and potential for wild action.
Graphics: Graphics are adequate but simplistic. The game comes with a collection of scanned mountain images, which help improve the appearance somewhat.
Sound: The sound effects are first generation PC and lag years behind the game's contemporaries.
Enjoyment: Gameplay is easy to pick up and surprisingly fun, given its simplicity.
Replay Value: Scorched Earth's many settings give it a high replay value. A game can even span as many as 1,000 matches.
It's all-out war in Scorched Earth, a simple, yet exciting artillery combat game! You and up to nine friends can duke it out on hills and in valleys as you nuke each other into submission in this turn-based tank battle.
At the start of each round, each player purchases their weaponry, and if they choose, shields and parachutes for defense and safety from long drops. Then it's off to battle! Aim your cannon, taking note of trajectory and wind, and fire off your weapons in attempt to take out the opposition. Most of the options are very intuitive, and you can begin playing with only a little bit of information.
The variety of weapons is the real highlight of Scorched Earth. A small sample of these include the standard nukes, which obliterate the screen. There's the Funky Bomb, which scatters smaller bombs in an unpredictable variety of directions. Or, if missiles aren't your thing, you can send your foes a personal gift of flaming napalm. There are also dirt bombs which can be used to bury opponents or yourself, for safety from opposing attacks.
One of the other memorable features are the amusing quips displayed before a shot is fired, and when a tank is destroyed. These can even be added to by editing the files to give your threats a more personal flavor.
The short story: Your goal is to destroy your opponent's tanks by entering the correct power and angle values for shooting your projectiles. You earn money after each round based on your aiming skill, enabling you to buy different shields and weapons. But there's much more to it, and not everything can be mentioned here. You can choose between simultaneous, sequential and synchronous gaming mode, as well as the weather conditions, gravity, etc. But I recommend you leave these, as well as all the other options from the rather abundant set of options as is, for now. You can try modifying them once you get bored with the game, and there's a good chance that it won't be any time soon.
A multiplayer game mode is, of course, supported for up to 9 players. The default graphic resolution is a bit unusual but nice: 360x480 (256 colors). Scorched Earth is not the first game of its kind, but it has a certain "personality." Unfortunately, the full version is not available. I don't know if there is anyone left on earth besides the author who has the full version and is willing to share it. However, it's not something to be concerned about, since the only difference between the full and the shareware version is the availability of the seventh tank (there are six types to choose from).
People who downloaded Scorched Earth have also downloaded:
Warcraft 2, Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos, Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, Wolfenstein 3D, StarCraft, Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, Commander Keen 4, Duke Nukem 3D
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