Tanks… Mean machines with even meaner guns! It’s every sane man’s secret dream to be able to drive and wreak havoc with one of these things. Unfortunately, most of us will never have the chance to try it for real. So, Wargaming.net, a company specialized in military strategy games, thought about bringing the whole experience to all of us, online, through the free-to-play tactical shooter World of Tanks.
Everything starts in your garage. Here you have the chance to buy your first tank and crew. Those of you who hoped to get their hands on a King Tiger right away will be very disappointed. The player has to start with weak, World-War I generation, light tanks and fight his way up to that much wanted heavy tank. After each battle you get experience, money and an increase of your crew skills. Besides getting less money for a loss, you also have to pay for repairs and ammo before you get in another battle, so rushing on the enemy base hoping for a lucky shot isn’t such a good idea. In fact, WoT requires a bit of tactics and cooperation between players in order to win.
With the experience gained in the field, upgrades for the vehicles are unlocked, such as better engines, tracks, guns etc. With the money you have left after repairs and rearming, you can actually buy these parts, other items that help you in the fights and most importantly, better war machines. And speaking of war machines, there are over 100 realistically modeled armored vehicles available, ranging from famous T-34 to some that never saw battle, like the German Maus. At the moment there are only 3 nations: USSR, Germany and USA, with France, UK and Japan to be added later.
Everything in game is mostly as it should be. The shots fly through the air as they should, landscape influences both handling and evasion possibilities, but what impressed me most is the damage system. There are different parts in the tank that can be damaged such as the engine, turret and tracks, each with its obvious effects. Furthermore, crew members may be injured, resulting in a reduction of the whole crew effectiveness. Shells might also ricochet, thus causing no damage and those that hit are clearly visible on the tanks hull. Also, if your gun is too small and the enemy’s armor too thick, don’t even think about doing any damage. Though it has some simulation aspects, the game is still fun to play.
There are 5 different types of vehicles, each with its own purpose. First, there are the weak armored and weaponed light tanks, which use its speed to spot enemies. Then there’s the good all-around light tank, and finally the mighty heavy tanks, slow as hell, but deadly in a head-on confrontation. Besides these, there are also the SPGs (self-propelled-guns) with very long range, but slow and weak armored and finally the tank destroyers, much like usual tanks but with huge guns and thick front armor.
The game looks and sounds superb, with incredibly realistic tank models and destructible landscape and structures, and great music that makes you feel like a war hero, ready to join the battle. It is clear that WoT is a game made with great care and sense of responsibility.
But let’s not forget that this is still a beta and things aren’t always as bright as they seem. First, there’s the lag. There were rounds where I lost simply because the game chose to lag just the moment I was head charging an enemy. Considering the battles are real-time and this happens quite often, it can be a deal-breaker for some. Then there is the usual getting stuck, invisible enemies or illogical ricochets. Also there are only a handful of maps, though quite big in size, most about 1 square kilometer. There is only one game mode available: standard battle. Two teams of 15 try to kill each other or take control of the enemy checkpoint. It doesn’t really sound as a true MMO but more are said to be implemented like tiered, historical or guild (platoon) battles.
This is one of the best games I have played recently. It helped me break loose of the usual fantasy grindfests that tend to flood the market and made one of my dreams come true – tear a wall down with a tank!. I recommend it to anyone who loves tanks, tactics, action, or just wants to try something new. Be warned though, the game is still in beta so there are quite a few bugs. But the developers are constantly listening to player feedback on the forum, so when this is finally launched it should be a wonderful game. Though World of Tank is not perfect, it has a great deal of potential, so the grades awarded are well deserved!
by Sicaru Adrian