Seek and Destroy is perhaps the most poorly-marketed game ever to grace the Playstation 2. Its cover features a tank driving away from an American flag, which makes it look like a generic shooter at best. If anything, looking at this box art makes me really want to play Battlefield 2: Modern Combat instead. The back of the box exclusively features screenshots from the tutorial mission and its description advertises it as a chaotic, though realistic war sim. A friend told me not to buy it exactly because it looked so boring… but I am happy that I bought it anyway.
Though featuring real tank models from across history, Seek and Destroy is far from a realistic tank simulator. You play as a member of the resistance of the fallen Proton kingdom, which has been invaded by the militaristic Q-Stein Empire. The King is missing and the resistance has been pushed all the way to the south, but things are about to turn around.
You can pick a tank to start with and unlock many more as you complete missions and achieve secret objectives, but you also get to customize your ride. You earn money by fighting in arena battles and completing (optional) missions, which you then invest in all kinds of weapons and tools at the store. While it starts out somewhat realistic, it doesn’t take long before you unlock bouncing bombs, lasers, hover devices, and miniature nukes. By the end of the game you may be driving in some historical tank, but you got so much crap tacked unto it that it’s barely recognizable.
The game is a bit tricky early on when you’re still under-equipped, but it develops in a cathartic, almost parody-like wargame by the end of it. The story is melodramatic, but this is made hilarious by the cartoon visuals and the fact that every character is exclusively presented in a tank or support vehicle. Even if you go into a village, all the townsfolk will be driving around in little tanks. The lackluster translation is a bit of a shame and did cause some confusion, but it perfectly suits the bizarre atmosphere of the game.
The game’s lack of polish can be funny at times, but there are some technical shortcomings that become more of a bother. Targeting is needlessly fiddly and objectives can be very unclear, to name two prominent examples. Most annoying to me personally was just how much damage even the most basic enemies can take near the end of the game. Using anything but the most powerful weapons felt like a waste and even then they’ll usually survive for longer than feels ideal.
Seek and Destroy is a very deliberately a B-grade title, with wonky physics and low production values. It’s not a game I recommend if you’re looking for a solid, well-developed tank game. Instead, it’s a hilarious game if you go into it with the right mood and can accept a janky experience. The AI might bug out from time to time, but what other tank game will let you fly around in a Maus while dropping nuclear bombs.