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World of Tanks

Score: 95%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Wargaming.net
Developer: Wargaming.net
Media: DVD/1
Players: 30 Players (Online Only)
Genre: Simulation/ Shooter


Graphics & Sound:

A lovely summer day. An open field, with grasses of greens and yellows swaying in the breeze. A pair of butterflies dance about, fighting against the wind. This open field holds nothing but nature's wonders as far as the eye can see... well, that and several diesel-belching, lead-spewing, 15 ton death machines painted to match. This is war, son... better get to blowing tanks up.

World of Tanks focuses on a single aspect of modern warfare: tanks. These multi-tonned track-mounted weapons of targeted destruction are the kings of ground wars, offering their crew mobility, heavy firepower and even a bit of protection. Mind you, those things vary from tank to tank, and World of Tanks painstakingly reproduces those tanks with their appropriate stats, allowing you to take command of one of these massive war machines, if only virtually.

The models are very detailed and accurate; even the various external modifications that you can make to the tanks are reflected in the in-game model, from camouflage to gun and turret options.


Gameplay:

The beta was awesome. Mind you, I wasn't just in the beta, I was press and, as such, I had a good deal of gold to throw around, so I could quickly unlock the different tanks of various levels and try them out to see how they handled. Now, however, the beta is over, the accounts have been reset, and I'm just a mere mortal playing my way through the game, at a normal pace. (Well, probably at a slower-than-normal pace; I'm not that great at it.) The difference is, at "normal speed," gameplay is a bit more of a grind. Unless you're made of money and can afford to buy a lot of gold to gain access to goodies a bit faster and keep your tanks stocked with the heavier "Gold" ammo, you're going to have to play a lot of games to earn the experience and credits needed to work your way through the Tech Tree, and unlock the really big guns. That is, if that's your goal. If you find that you like playing light tanks, you'll only need purchase upgrades and consumables for your light tanks. You'll still have to unlock the tanks, but they're low in the Tech Tree, so you won't have to research a lot of stuff to unlock them.

So, what is "Gold Ammo"? In World of Tanks, there are extra high-power rounds that penetrate enemy armor better and are more explosive. These rounds, however, cost Gold, the currency in the game that you can purchase via microtransactions. You can take out a tank without the really high-powered stuff, but if you need to take out an enemy quickly or you're outmatched, Gold Ammo can make the difference.

There are five types of Battles (and the first four don't count). There's Platoon, Team Training, Tank Companies, Special Battles and then there's Standard Battle... what you're most likely to play. Ever. Well... if you really get into it, get a premium account and play as part of a Tank Company, then you might use Team Training and Tank Company Battles. However, you don't earn any experience in Team Training, and, although your repairs are free, you still have to pay to restock your ammo. Given that World of Tanks is heavily experience-based, I can't see this mode getting much use. Tank Company Battles are interesting; it's your Tank Company versus another Tank Company. In these, you still earn experience. The main difference is you're not playing against a random, rag-tag group selected by the server, but playing as an actual team against another team. This means that a team can play more strategically, if they've trained together and developed some tactics and strategies. If you get into Tank Companies and have a regular group you fight with and you actually train and develop some tactics to use, then Tank Company might be worth your while. If you are just joining a group with others, your best bet is Standard Battle; I tried the Tank Company mode out, but it merely made it take longer to get into a game, as we were waiting for enough tanks to join to get us to the minimum 40-60 tier total needed to start a game.

In Standard Battles, you get whoever the server gives you and you have a very little bit of time to determine what the gameplan is and who, if anyone, is leading and coordinating the effort. Platoon is sort of a casual way to play with specific players. Instead of building an entire Tank Company, you basically form a small group that the server will use to fill up a team in a Standard Battle. So, really, when you're playing Platoon, you're still playing in Standard Battle games - just with some friends. If you don't have a premium account, your Platoon is limited to two players, but a two-person Platoon can offer some refreshing familiarity and allow for better interaction between two friends.

When I was playing, the Special Battles option was there, but not enabled. I don't know what this is for, but I would guess it's World of Tanks' way of supporting in-game events, with bonuses and/or prizes and that sort of thing.

With the different types of tanks available in World of Tanks, there are a variety of play styles. The team dynamic merely adds more variety to this. You can play light tank and scout out the positions of the enemy and report them back to your team or you can form a squad of light and medium tanks and swarm enemy units, circling around them to distract and divert their fire, while ensuring that one of you has a good shot at their tank's less protected sides, tracks and rear. Or, if you prefer, you can go with artillery and simply find a good spot to fire on tanks half a battlefield away. Again, you might want to form a group and have a couple of medium tanks protecting you, because you can attack from a long way away, but if a scout gets in close, you're toast.


Difficulty:

Since World of Tanks only has online gameplay, the difficulty is heavily dependent on your skills and that of your opponents. Another thing that affects your difficulty is your ability to research improvements and advanced weaponry and being able to afford Gold Ammo. If you can afford to spend some money on gold, you will be able to access these things more quickly and easily. Otherwise, you'll need to grind your way to the top. You'll need to play a lot of games to earn a lot of credits and experience. The experience is spent on research and the credits are spent to actually purchase the items, once researched. Either way, you'll have to have researched all of the technologies needed to create a given tank before you can research the tank itself. In turn, each of these technologies have certain technologies that you must research before you can research them, hence the Tech Tree. If you're working towards something, make sure you carefully check what the requirements are for a given technology, as there are certain technologies you can skip over; follow the lines in the Tech Tree and it should be easy to determine what actually needs to be researched to get where you want to be.

Practice makes perfect, but you'll need experience to afford your research, so I suggest you play a lot of Standard Battles to build up your experience. Preferably, try to use just one or two tanks, since your experience builds up for individual tanks and crews. If you're buying a tank that you like and think you want to keep, you might want to pay the gold to train your crew to 100% skill, so they can learn neat skills such as First-Aid, Fire Extinguishing or Tank Repair. Mind you, these skills require consumable items, so you'll be draining your coffers to keep these items in play, but it can be worth it for important battles or if you simply want to have a shot of lasting a bit longer in a match in case things don't go your way.


Game Mechanics:

I found World of Tanks to be surprisingly quite resilient to poor Internet connections. At one point, I was having some serious connection issues, to the point that YouTube videos took a long time to load and even Amazon took a long time to come up. Only then did I see some lag bad enough to really prove annoying and disruptive. In addition, I have a friend who plays World of Tanks all the time on a PC that is severely under-powered for it, yet it's still enough fun that he plays almost nightly.

If you've gotten this far, you should already know whether you have any interest in a tank warfare game. The question is whether you'll enjoy this one. World of Tanks pays good attention to detail, but, in gameplay, allows tanks of any sort to play together on the same team. It's not about battle re-enactment, it's about strategy and blowing things up. It can look pretty darn good on a powerful gaming rig, but can hold up decently with a low-level machine if you turn the settings down. Finally, and a point of contention with some - there are microtransactions that affect gameplay, such as the Gold Ammo... but, if you really are against putting additional money into the game, you can get by on experience alone. Considering all this and the fact that you can pick World of Tanks up - with $30 of in-game bonuses - for under $14 USD - or download the game from the site and simply play for free, and it makes sense to give it a shot if you're the least bit interested.


-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows XP or Win 7, 2.2 GHz Processor, 1.5 GB RAM for XP, 2 GB RAM for Win 7, GeForce 6800GT with 256 MB of RAM / ATI X800 with 256 MB of RAM, DirectX 9.0c, DirectX 9.0c compatible Sound Card, 3.5 GB free Hard Drive Space, Minimum Internet connection speed of 128 Kbps
 

Test System:



AMD Athlon(tm) II X2 220 Processor 2.80 GHz, 4 GB dual-channel DDR3, ASUS Mainboard, CoolerMaster 850watt power supply, Dual boot: Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit / Windows XP Home Edition (played in Windows 7), Graphics: ATI Radeon 3000 (on motherboard) / XFX ATI Radeon HD 5750 1GB graphics card, Dual Monitors (Gateway HD2201 21" HDMI / Sony SDM-HS73), 1.5 TB Western Digital Caviar Green SATA Hard Drive, 750 GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 SATA 3Gb/s Hard Drive, Logitech Gaming Mouse G700, Logitech Gaming Keyboard G105 for Modern Warfare 3, Logitech Z313 2.1-CH PC multimedia speaker system, A30 Gaming Headset, Cable Modem

Related Links:



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