Tank controls are a control system used in video games whereby players control movement relative to the position of the player character, rather than the perspective of the game camera.[1]


In a game with tank controls, pressing up (for example on a D-pad, analog stick, or cursor movement keys) on the game controller moves the character in the direction they face, down reverses them, and left and right rotates them.[1] This differs from many 3D games, in which characters move in the direction players push from the perspective of the camera.[1] The term "tank controls" comes from the steering mechanisms of old tanks, which had to stop completely before turning.[2] Tank controls were common in 3D games in the 1990s, such as Grim Fandango and the early Resident Evil and Tomb Raider games.[1][3]

Tank controls allow players to maintain a direction when the camera angle changes. Grim Fandango designer Tim Schafer chose the system as it allowed the developers to create "cinematic" camera cuts without disrupting the controls.[4] Shinji Mikami, director of the first Resident Evil (1996), felt the use of fixed camera perspectives and tank controls made the game scarier.[5]


Tank controls have received criticism for feeling stiff or cumbersome.[4] They have become less common over time and free-roaming cameras have become standard for 3D games.[2] The remastered versions of Grim Fandango and Resident Evil include alternative control schemes, and later Resident Evil games discarded tank controls.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d "A eulogy for tank controls". PC Gamer. 20 February 2015. Archived from the original on 5 March 2018. Retrieved 5 March 2018.
  2. ^ a b "[Horror Declassified] An Examination Of Tank Controls". Bloody Disgusting. 23 March 2013. Archived from the original on 2018-03-05. Retrieved 2018-03-05.
  3. ^ "Untold Riches: The Intricate Platforming of Tomb Raider". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on 2018-03-06. Retrieved 2018-02-28.
  4. ^ a b Matulef, Jeffrey (2015-01-26). "Bringing out the Dead: Tim Schafer reflects back on Grim Fandango". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on 2015-01-28. Retrieved 2018-03-05.
  5. ^ a b Mielke, James (June 4, 2020). "Resident Evil Creator Talks Zombies in 2020 and How His Games Will Change Post-Pandemic". IGN. Retrieved February 4, 2021.