Welcome back to Mod Showcase. Brickinator here to talk about Stop that Tank!, a mod gamemode that combines Mann versus Machine, Payload and annoying punctuation in mod titles that ruins the syntax. Like all hybrids that don’t turn out to be creepy mutated squid people, Stop that Tank! takes the best parts of the gamemodes it seeks to emulate. In this case, the Mann versus Machine tank and the Payload maps’ long, winding tracks. The mod is still being worked on and it’s garnered a lot of popularity, but the fact that only two servers run it means that it’s not particularly well-known among some of the general TF2 community. I asked all of my friends if they’d heard of it and both of them hadn’t.
If your IQ is above your age in years you’ve probably figured out how this will work- the attackers have to escort the tank along the track until it reaches the bomb pit. The defenders have to blow the tank up before it can reach the end of the track. The attackers get the added fun of playing as the robots too so it’s all good.
In gameplay terms, the tank isn’t much different from the Payload cart. The only real differences are that the attackers don’t have to stand near it for it to move and the fact that it can be destroyed. It doesn’t really offer much of a combat advantage but, unlike the cart, you can use it as cover far more effectively. Its attacks are pretty much non-existent; sure it can crush enemies who become trapped alongside the walls but that’s only a weapon in the same way shit is technically food. The tank has the speed of fat kid pulling a plough too and it takes ages to get from one side of the map to the other. Even if you defeat the first wave of defenders, they respawn so many times that they can return to pelt the tank from their side of the map.
As the tank is so slow, the robot attackers are usually slowed down by it somewhat and the overall gameplay flows like a river of bricks. If you manage to successfully harness your inner Chuck Norris and escort the tank all the way to the end of the track though, it stops, folds open its casing, raises its bomb over the pit and then drives down it anyway. In true TF2 style, the resulting explosion flings everybody’s lifeless corpses up in the air so that they may slam back on the ground. Woo, victory!
Chances are the defenders will take out your tank though. If some of them distract the attackers, the rest can stay behind and smash it up. It’s a common sight to see defenders leaping onto the top of the tank and repeatedly smacking it with their melee weapons. Once the tank is destroyed, the players in its vicinity can dance about on the wreckage to earn a temporary crit bonus and force back the robot hordes. The attackers run away screaming like they just found a corpse in their swimming pool.
After a short duration, a member of the attackers will be chosen to play as a giant robot who carries a new bomb. I found this was where the game really got interesting; an intelligent Payload cart who knew when to take cover and how to get around the enemy sentry nests changed the state of play entirely. It’s depressingly ironic; ‘Stop that Tank!’ is most fun when it doesn’t have the tank. I didn’t get the chance to play as one of the giant robots though. Perhaps the selection system is racist.
Playing as the robots is really nothing more than a novelty. They don’t operate any different from normal but you do get to hear their crackly voices and see the weird shivering they do like they’re all having some permanent seizure. Sometimes the robots’ limbs stretch through the map and, on my screen at least, the Demobots kept spinning around. Perhaps they were all drunk. In addition, killing a cloaked robot Spy drops the human ragdoll. It’s hardly anything game-breaking but it does look odd. The robots’ clanking footsteps were a clear indication of when they were sneaking up on you too. The metallic stomping is audible from separate rooms and I anticipated a few enemy attacks by hearing them before they arrived.
Stop that Tank! doesn’t do anything revolutionary in gameplay terms but it feels balanced and doesn’t totally destroy any semblance of logic in the game like some other mods do. The only real flaw with it is that it doesn’t do much different- if not for the tank blowing up and the occasional giant robot, it really is indistinguishable from Payload. But isn’t that what TF2 fans like? The same thing over and over but with a new paint job? Of course you do, James! Your name probably isn’t James but it was worth messing with the heads of all the people called James who are currently reading this article. You people make me sick.