Sometimes you just want to destroy shit, right? Well, no doubt about it, World of Tanks is way past awesome. It’s the one and only team-based massively multiplayer online action game dedicated to armored warfare. World of Tanks is simple, a shooter game first and foremost, with uncomplicated controls that you can work at, if you choose, at a slow, deliberate pace. Having said all that nice stuff, I would add that, even though the hard-sell type advertising in previews on other games stresses the game is free, it isn’t. Read the instructions carefully! It’s free while you work out the fundamentals and there’s definitely more than a few hours pleasure in that. Once you graduate from being wet-behind-the-ears to reasonably skillful, however, everything changes. From then on, it’s pay to play!
Comparatives-wise, this game lies somewhere in between a landlubber’s version of Navy Field and my eternal warrior joy rise from the old PS One masterpiece Panzer Front. Indeed, my only real beef with World of Tanks is that is that I never get to go into combat with the good old Soviet T34. There may not be any kind of worthwhile substitution for dressing up like Field Marshall Hans Guderian, but at least none of your liberal friends can give you a hard time for riding in a tank with a swastika on it. Or as my crusty old battle-axe of a stepmother said when she visited last Christmas. “Your father would do somersaults in his coffin if ‘e saw you standing in a Tiger Tank wearing a bleedin’ S.S. Uniform!”
Currently, only German, American and British tanks are playable, although the Microsoft guy told me there’d be Russians next year, when I moaned about the lack of choices at CES. There is a fair amount of variety to your choices as you have toys like scout vehicles, ‘Pig-type’ armored cars to 2,000lb field pieces as well as self-propelled artillery included. Graphically solid, without being spectacular, the conversion shows no obvious glitches save for the slightly disconcerting sight of open-topped tank destroyers having no visible crew, which is, you know, kind of strange.
The fighting, all live online, is frantic, noisy and relentless. All levels of durability in vehicles are available at a cost. Models get better as does their ability to withstand direct hits. The thing to remember is that nothing is available for purchase until you’ve rung up the necessary experience points and in-game currency. Therein lies how this ‘free’ game works commercially. Purchasers of the premium (paid-for) account get some cool awards at the end of each round and the ability to unlock improved equipment more quickly. This good stuff does not come cheap. I’ve spoken to a lot of game freaks and costs for the premium game come in at around $85 for 12 months, although there’s a separate set of fees for Xbox Live.
There is plenty of variety to keep players interested, with everything from light scout vehicles to heavy self-propelled artillery included. Graphically solid, without being spectacular, the conversion shows no obvious glitches – with the possible exception that may irk purists of the slightly disconcerting sight of open-topped tank destroyers having no visible crew, but it’s a minor complaint.
The fighting, all live online, is generally fast, furious and terrific fun and while some of the early vehicles available represent clunky first world war relics, after leveling-up better models become available for purchase having acquired the necessary experience points and in-game currency. And therein lies how this free game works commercially, with holders of the premium (paid-for) account receiving greater rewards for their performance at the end of a round and the ability to unlock improved equipment more quickly.
The good stuff is not cheap – the high-velocity premium game is $70 for 12 months, on top of the expense of Xbox Live – but the fun is mighty fine. Lastly, if you need help or some hints there are, literally, hundreds of fan vids on YouTube to teach you how to use and appreciate it.