Fourteen years have passed and children that were born at the turn of the 21st century are now old enough to look at you like you’re a dinosaur if you try and play it to them (pretty much the same look of disgust you gave your Father when he tried to introduce you to Pink Floyd). Also in 2000, the Playstation 2 launched with one of those new DVD thingies that let you watch films on a small disc. It was TWICE as sharp as VHS and there was no rewinding or anything!
With the launch of Sony’s sequel console came much more sophisticated games like Grand Theft Auto and large, more detailed games. Military combat games based on historical battles became common place and it wasn’t long before games like Medal Of Honor and Call Of Duty dominated Consoles and PC. What was once a niche market for PC gamers was now open to everybody and anybody. Military IPs continue to show great strides with franchises like Battlefield and CoD. Christ they even have their own Esport competitions. Well since the year 2000, two things have developed that have really changed the way we consume our video games. Smart Phones and Tablets.
Now gaming is in almost everybody’s hands and there are plenty of companies trying to deliver great content at great prices. No price is better than free though. Free to play games have been on the increase lately and there aren’t many genres that don’t include a F2P alternative. Whether that’s MMO, shooter, strategy, RPG or puzzle/platform – there’s simply so much choice on offer. World Of Tanks on PC managed to capture the imaginations of both Military shooter fans and tactical action nuts in one fell swoop. Its freemium business model allowed it to invite anyone to jump in and play without paying a penny. This ensured a large install base and simply charged for premium features. It worked brilliantly on PC and several Midlife Gamer community members (including one of its founders) can’t seem to get enough of it (or, by his own admission, stop talking about it). So could it translate over to mobile devices without losing the essence? The simple answer is yes.
This strategic tank simulator works for anybody wanting to use a little bit more mind over muscle when they enter a battle. Basically the full PC game has been stripped down to its core mechanics to allow for touch based controls. You can still purchase tanks with in game money, buy advanced weaponry and communicate with other players online. Instead of 15 players the teams are stripped down to 7 and the maps are a little smaller to accommodate this. You are provided with 3 tanks at the beginning and can build up cash during battles to buy more and build your collection. You also have to earn XP to allow you to upgrade to certain specialist weaponry and vehicles.
When you decide on your tank and shells to use, you then begin the game. Once in the map you must advance to you primary goal of occupying a base (you do this by entering the area and waiting for a desired period of time) and try to out flank or destroy enemy tanks. The simplicity is what matters here. It’s easy to play but difficult to master. Each level has its own set of obstacles and depending on the machinery you are wielding you will have to adapt to various different challenges along the way. Please remember, these aren’t sports cars you are traversing in. These are bulky, fully armoured Tanks that take a little time to do anything. In order to be good at negotiating your way around the map you will need to be intimate with the way the Tank moves, after all, this isn’t Carmageddon.
Lighter tanks are quicker but they have less armour. Heavy Tanks are tougher but have less maneuverability. Each one has its pros and cons, it’s up to you to decide which tank suits your play style the most. The tanks are also based on real models used by militaries the world over and some are specific to certain countries. No matter what the choice you will have to work with the whole team to ensure you aren’t wiped out immediately by the opposing force.
Controls are simple enough that the touch screen doesn’t become the hindrance it usually is. One touch pad controls the forward momentum and the turning left, right or reverse. One button controls the tanks firing and there are icons spread evenly around the screen to change your shells, zoom in or chat options. Luckily the game is paced in a way that you can easily do all of this before actually setting out. As I said before this isn’t balls to the wall action but it’s in these quiet moments as you roll into position the tension ramps up. Will your plan work? Can you get to the middle of the map unspotted? and so on and so forth.
Battling is as simple as moving the camera around by swiping the screen and auto aim focuses on nearby enemies. Once you have them in your sights you can then choose to engage or try and get past and avoid confrontation (good luck with that one though). Once the battle is over (win or lose) you earn some gold and XP. You can then restock your artillery and invest in a few more Tanks should you have enough money. It’s in this part that I thought the game would (like so many other F2P titles) fall apart. Truth be told, not once was I subjected to constant reminders to buy things.
The option was there to buy my items with gold and I could then purchase more virtual gold (with real money) should I choose to. There are also more Freemium Tanks to buy but luckily the game doesn’t actually require them and the only reason to buy would be for vanity or bragging rights with other players. The free to play model is actually great and less intrusive than I expected. The shop option is a small green box in the right hand corner of the start screen and it feels good not to be bombarded with a string of adverts or being forced to pay to progress. Gameloft take note!
Graphically the game runs as smooth as butter and mostly at 58 – 60 FPS. It looks slightly basic but the tanks, landscapes and explosive effects are good enough to satisfy (although not as good as 360 or PC obviously). Several graphical sacrifices were made but it’s to be expected. You can still level a group of trees to manipulate the landscape if need be though which is nice! If you like Tanks, strategy games, war, explosions and doing a little bit more thinking before jumping headlong into battle WoTB is a great way to do it. It may not give PC or Xbox 360 players the full experience they were after but there are certainly far worse F2P games to invest your time in and this one rewards it’s players and encourages them to play and enjoy.
Now everybody born before 1995 – all together now “Keep rollin’ rollin’ rollin’ rollin”
MLG Rating: 8/10 Format: iOS Release Date: 26/06/2014
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of World of Tanks Blitz by the publisher for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of two weeks on an iPad. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.