Ah, another top-down game with tanks in the title. Unlike Tanks Classic, however, this is a game released by Panic Arts. Also, this is a multiplayer turn-based strategy game, not a traditional action game. Indeed, the name’s a bit of a misnomer, with only three of the game’s seven vehicles being tanks.
The concept will be familiar to anybody who has played Advance Wars or its ilk: build an army, capture cities and accumulate money and victory points. First to twenty victory points wins! The game is a good deal simpler than Advance Wars: with tiny maps, a simplified capture mechanic and only three broad unit types, it’s an extremely easy game to grasp.
Which is for the best. This is a game meant to be played in short bursts, and simplicity is key for pick up and play games. Simplicity may also belie great depth: the rules of chess may appear stark compared to the complex rulesets of modern board and computer games, but it remains an astonishingly deep strategy game.
Admittedly, Tanks is not chess. It may be simple, but it lacks the purity of design that makes chess so beloved. Takings its cues from numerous wargames, not least Advance Wars, Tanks starts each player with 200 credits and an open, symmetrical battlefield. Each player’s unit spawn point is on the precise opposite part of the battlefield, which due to their symmetrical design ensures that neither has a geographical advantage; the only difference being who goes first – and, like all good strategy games, going first can be seen as both boon and handicap, allowing the player to acquire money and victory points first, but also allowing the second player to react to their opening gambit.
The three unit types available are tanks, artillery and supply trucks. Supply trucks add to your income (otherwise accrued through holding cities and destroying enemies). They are also lightly armoured, and only of middling speed, so have to be looked after. Tanks come in three varieties, from light to heavy: light tanks do little damage, have weak armour but are the fastest units in the game. Heavy tanks do heavy damage, have tough armour, and are the slowest. You can probably guess where medium tanks fall. Artillery also comes in three varieties, but here the only difference is the damage dealt, and area of effect. Light and medium artillery deal low to middling damage over a wide area (hitting thirteen squares); heavy artillery deals more damage than any other unit, but only affects five squares.
It becomes clear that heavy and medium artillery are by far your most useful offensive weapons, but they’re also the most expensive. Building a mass of supply trucks can net you an impressive income, but a sudden offensive can wipe them out swiftly. Light tanks are weak, but nothing beats them for a quick land grab. And any unit can become resilient through use of terrain – forests and cities provide defensive bonuses, and the latter also heal any units at the end of their enemy’s turn: stick a heavy tank in one and it won’t be shifted easily.
On top of all this, single-turn power-ups can be purchased. These are fairly expensive – ranging from 50 to 150 credits – and can only be used once every three turns. However the ability to double your firepower or defence for a turn, call in a devastating airstrike, or give a unit the ability to hover over any obstacles can be a game-changer, and judicious use of these power-ups is essential to your success.
None of this would matter if the multiplayer didn’t work, but fortunately Panic Arts have handled this side well. You can invite friends to play, or let the game match you up. Battles are as quick or as slow as you want, with the game waiting for as long as you need between turns. Communication is facilitated through the ‘Taunt’ facility. And finally, the game keeps track of your statistics, letting you know your win ratio, plus fun little things like how many units you’ve built and destroyed.
There are a few general niggles with the game, though. The lack of singleplayer is a shame, but understandable – coding competent skirmish AI would be something of a challenge, and crafting an entire campaign perhaps a lot to ask for a free game. It’s a shame that the keyboard when ‘taunting’ is usable only in portrait form, and lacks the standard error correction we take for granted. The game could do with a tutorial of some sort. Oh, and it would be nice if there were a few more maps. But none of these detract from the simple fact that this is a perfect little strategy game for on the go, multiplayer warfare, and considering that it’s free, I can see no reason you wouldn’t want to give it a try. Great fun.
Tanks Gameplay Video
Version Under Review : 126.96.36.199
Tanks is a FREE game for Windows Phone 7
Our Rating for Tanks