World of Tanks Review
WORLD OF TANKS
Genre: MMO Strategy & Action Game
World of Tanks is the first and only team-based massively multiplayer online action game dedicated to armored warfare. Throw yourself into the epic tank battles of World War II with other tank fans all over the world. Your arsenal includes more than 150 armored vehicles from America, Germany, and the Soviet Union, carefully detailed with historical accuracy.
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I first heard about World of Tanks at Eurogamer this year, upon leaving the convention hall there were two full size tanks adorned with banners advertising the game. It was a pretty impressive image and certainly something that sticks in the mind.
And I bring this up, not as some sort of introduction to the game but as an indication to what the first couple of minutes of your time in World of Tanks is all about – impressive images, big explosions and a huge array of tanks. I can’t stress enough how satisfying it is to get into a game and see all the tanks lined up in formation.
World of Tanks is a free to play multiplayer strategy/vehicle game that has you and a group of up to 14 allies go up against another team of tanks, killing the enemy is certainly not your only option though. Instead you can play a little more tactically, manoeuvring across terrain and capturing the flag instead.
This dual-objective sounds like something of a gimmick, that the developers have done nothing but add an over-complication to differentiate themselves from the competition but that really isn’t the case. It adds an extra layer, the need to work as a team to defend as well as attack. You’ll also need to learn the environment fairly quickly or else risk driving into the faces of 3 or 4 enemy tanks – an instant death without a doubt.
Graphically World of Tanks is fairly impressive, but more impressive is the effort that has gone into modelling and balancing the tanks, for which the developers need a serious amount of recognition. At release there were nearly 100 tanks, all faithfully recreated based on sometimes iconic, sometimes vaguer real life tanks that were put into service between the 1930s and the 1950s. There are plans for another couple of hundred. I’m by no means a tank buff, but from the pictures I’ve seen Tanks are near-identical, even down to the positioning of the rivets.
And that’s the beauty of the detail put in, not just to give Tank enthusiasts a small thrill each time they unlock a new tank but, through the developer’s keen enthusiasm, I feel I want to learn more as well. Driving around shooting one another isn’t exactly educational, but the undertones are there.
And talking of tones, it’s also worth mentioning the effort that has gone into the music. Like any online game you’ll probably hear much of what is on offer after a night of playing, but the music is appropriate to what is happening and sounds epic enough to suit the setting – you couldn’t expect anything much better from a World War 2 movie.
But this isn’t a movie and gameplay is where it counts. At its very basic level, World of Tanks is a third-person shooter, no more, no less. You find an enemy and do you best to kill them before they kill you, using the environment and movement to defend yourself. That is without taking into consideration little things like the different tanks you can access (changing up your strengths and weaknesses considerably) .
Deep Strategy Elements
My biggest surprise came after about three games, each one in which I tried to allow for gravity. In World of Tanks you only have to float over your enemy, which highlights them in red, and press the mouse button to shoot, a great indicator of the ease with which this game can be played.
But there is far more to it than that, as the official forums attest. There is a very deep strategy element, a skilled player will learn how to take down certain tanks, where the armour is weakest and where to travel on the map in order to take advantage. “A skilled player,” one poster writes “will destroy most of the enemy army without the army ever seeing him to fight back.” Another asserts that World of Tanks does not have to be played as a team game and a skilled player can carry a team.
I’m certainly not a skilled player and I feel fairly lucky to hit an enemy tank, I once managed to destroy three tanks and nearly fell off my chair in excitement, instantly getting killed.
It’s lucky that World of Tanks is not too hard to get into; with no tutorial as such, you’re chucked in the deep end. When you die you have the option of leaving the game unpunished (you’re dead, it doesn’t matter anyway) or watching how the better players manage to outgun you. While the battle rages on your tank will be “in battle” when you make it back to your garage and you’ll have the choice to enter a different battle with a different tank.
Create your platoon
If you have enough friends who play the game you can create a platoon, all of you going up against other platoons. Otherwise you’ll just be pressing the “join battle” button which connects you to a random server. I’m not quite sure how that random server is selected, but there are times when you join a game that is so laggy it’s near-impossible to play. Playing with such large groups is fun, but the downside is that connections can suffer.
Some people have questioned whether World of Tanks is even an MMO and it’s a fair question – with no persistent world and only a handful of maps to explore, what’s the difference between this and Call of
Duty or Battlefield?
What I can say is that there are a lot of stats and figures to look over, so anybody who enjoys that element of MMORPGs will be in their element. Upgrades are also available for the tanks, upgrades which you pay for using experience. This is where things start to go downhill.
The game is free to play and the company makes use of micro-transactions to fund their development. This is a mixed blessing; it’s brilliant that so many people are going to get to play a game that they would not have done otherwise, but at the same time the gold, as the in-game currency is called, is quite expensive to buy and, realistically, this puts quite a pressure on you to pay to stay competitive.
Free and Paid upgrades
And while you can upgrade your tanks individually – adding new caterpillar tracks, new weapons and other improved parts – there are limitations based on how much you’re willing to pay. I upgraded one of my guns, which cost me in-game money, and the new gun needed ammunition which cost gold. Similarly, you can only own five tanks before needing to buy more slots.
It’s certainly not as in-your-face as the Facebook advertisements in Crystal Saga, but the quality in this game is so high that when you come across a barrier like that it makes you pause for thought. I understand that they need to make money, especially considering the sheer amount of people playing this game for absolutely nothing, but the limitations pop up in strange places.
For instance, each tank can hold a certain amount of soldiers that offer different benefits to the player. The more you pay with real money, the more soldiers you can have involved in the battle. You also can have more tanks in your garage which gives you the option to participate in more skirmishes which, naturally, gives you more experience. If you pay to become a premium member, you also get double experience and the benefits of that are obvious.
Perhaps it’s naïve of me to be surprised by this, I think it probably is, but in World of Tanks you can gain advantage by simply spending money. In theory that could completely throw the balance off-kilter, although I can’t confirm that first hand.
Free Action Experience for all
World of Tanks is a game that offers a free action experience to anybody with the bandwidth and graphics card to allow it, and whether you choose to play for free or pay the premium you won’t be disappointed with the results. For some the limited maps will prove a turn-off and the reliance on Tanks from around the World War II period will disappoint anybody obsessed with Modern Warfare, both literally and in terms of the game.
For what it’s worth, and the price you’ll pay to get access, you can’t complain – especially when you consider the effort that must go into each and every tank. To the average player they are nothing but pieces in a larger game, you care for them no more than you care for the anonymous soldier you play in any online game, but for the dedicated there’s an entire world of information to unlock and, whether you think of it as an MMO or not, a damn good game.
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