The time it takes to write this review of Tanks vs Tanks will last longer than my enjoyment of the game did. I know that’s a pretty scathing line to open a review with but it’s the truth. An insubstantial take on tank combat, this game is unsophisticated and basic compared to every other game I’ve experienced in this genre. If that’s enough of an indictment for you, feel free to scroll down to the bottom and see the score if you’ve not done so already and be on your way. If you want more detail, let’s get into it.
Tanks vs Tanks has one single game mode. It has no tutorial or explanation of the controls. No introduction. No context or story. After starting the game, you’re met with a menu with 2 options – Start Game or Options.
Start the game and you’re spawned into a tank, the only tank you’ll control, on a 3D battlefield, the only battlefield in the game. A hilly field with a series of buildings at its centre, the arena looks like an early noughties PS3 game, akin to a less detailed Operation Flashpoint Dragon Rising. You’re spawned alongside a team of friendly AI controlled tanks with the exact same visual look as your own vehicle. Friendly tanks also have a green outline that surrounds them. On the other side of the battlefield, a team of enemy tanks, all of which are identical to one another, spawn. They have a red outline and appear on the mini-map as red circles. Like the name suggests, it’s then Tanks vs Tanks. You’re thrown in at the deep end without any explicit objective or explanation of the controls. Thankfully, this is the deep end of the kiddies pool.
Using the left stick to move the tank around the arena and the right stick to control the turret/gun direction, the aim of Tanks vs Tanks is to destroy the endlessly spawning opposition without getting destroyed yourself. The tank has 2 offensive capabilities – the top gun capable of firing off explosive shells and an autocannon (basically a machine gun). Each weapon has a cool down time so you can’t just spam the top gun at your opposition. Attacks have to be measured. Take aim with the on screen gauge (or the aiming screen if you’re using the realistic internal screen view), get into position and let fly when you’re able.
The offensive game play is by far and away the best aspect of Tanks vs Tanks. There’s a little bit of drop to the shells fired which means lining up a straight hit won’t work on enemies that are far away. You’re got to account for the arc of the shell. Similarly, the autocannon is useless at distance because it’s inaccurate. In close quarters, it’s worth mixing it up between the two weapons between cool downs. The plume of dirt and smoke that emanates from the impact of a shell, while not entirely impressive, is gratifying to see. Get stuck in a fire fight with these jets of dirt firing up around you and it can make it look like a scene from a low-res Saving Private Ryan. There’s a satisfying chunkiness to the way the tank moves too, that’s on par with big budget alternatives.
It’s a shame that that’s where the enjoyment and depth stops with Tanks vs Tanks. Targets that take a hit don’t take that damage to the area they’re hit. There’s no blasting the track off the tank, targeting weak spots on the armour or disabling a gun. Instead, each tank has an invisible health bar. When that bar gets low, the tank starts to smoke and a few hits later, it explodes and becomes a flaming black block. It’s GTA 3 tanks. The same applies to the players tank. At the start of each run at the game, you’re equipped with 200 health. Each hit the tank take reduces that number. If it reaches 0, it’s game over and you’ve got to start the game from scratch. To keep you going, you can collect health boosts in the shape of big yellow plus signs which drop from defeated tanks. These grant you a +50 health to your existing total.
The AI of the opposition is the most disappointing aspect of this title. They’ve got very little strategic nous and are sluggish to react to attacks which means that they’re easy to defeat. Unless you go rolling in all gung-ho and get totally outnumbered, it’s possible to stay with your allied tanks and destroy tank after tank after tank without taking a hit. There’s no pincer movements or flanking. It’s like watching a bunch of toddlers playing football at times, tanks just driving randomly around the map and firing at each other. Tanks vs Tanks doesn’t get any more difficult as you play either. This AI level and enemy tank type remains the same no matter if you’ve killed 1 or 70 tanks (the total you’ll need to destroy in a single run if you want to 100% the trophy list – no, there’s no plat). Because of this, the play gets boring very quickly. At one point, I ended up with 950 health and was racking up kills without having to move. I switched off the game long before I could have died.
Then there’s the audio. There’s just one sound effect for gun fire. I bet you can probably imagine how grating that can get. A field full of tanks all firing off their top guns at the same time, all with the same sound effect? I muted the TV after half an hour. Weirdly, there is some music which plays during combat but only occasionally. It kind of fades in and out, leaving those tank fire sound effects as the sole audio output.
Tanks vs Tanks lacks features that are common in this genre too. That single game play mode could go on forever (or however long your patience lasts) because of how easy it is. The game is crying out for custom matches where the player can pick their own odds like 1 vs 5 or 5 vs 5 without respawns. I imagine this game, as shallow as it is, might have been fun in multiplayer too. A pity then that there’s no such option.
As a concept, Tanks vs Tanks should have been a slam dunk. It’s big metal war machines blasting the snot out of other big mental war machines for goodness sake. I thought it impossible to make this exciting concept as bland as what is presented in this title. But here we are. Tanks vs Tanks tanked with me. I’d find it difficult to recommend this to anyone over the other, deeper games in this genre.
Tank warfare has never been as mundane as it is in Tanks vs Tanks. A lack of features, lacklustre AI that makes for easy prey and little depth to the combat means this game gets boring very quickly.
Developer: Warlock Arts/Raiser Games
Publisher: Warlock Arts
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, a copy of the game was purchased. For our full review policy, please go here.
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