Gratuitous Tank Battles
I recently published a review on “Gratuitous Space Battles” (hereby dubbed GSB), a game that involved creating a fleet of ships to combat an enemy task force. You were able to outfit various ship hulls with weapons, defenses, and other tools to help them succeed in their mission. “Gratuitous Tank Battles” (hereby dubbed GTB), despite the title, plays a bit differently than its predecessor. This time around, you’ll be able to take control of both offense and defense, offering players the chance to come at their strategies from both sides. Before we begin seeing to the safety (or in some cases, destruction) of tanks en masse, I’d like to thank Cliff Harris for providing me with a free review copy.
The main menu allows you to play maps from the main campaign and maps created by others, set up your online profile, create and edit unit designs, adjust game options, and view the manual. The options menu looks very similar to that of GSB, addressing features like screen resolution, audio levels, fullscreen / windowed mode, and various graphics effects. You can also reset the tutorial from here, which allows the help pop up windows to appear when entering a particular screen for the first time.
The unit design menu functions and looks similar to GSB as well, but there are more features here for new players to get accustomed to. While you will be able to load a template, assign weapons (and other items) to the unit, and save it, you’ll also be able to change the color schemes by selecting a layer and choosing colors from a palette. I personally enjoy this feature, despite the fact that I have no artistic talent whatsoever. Creating units of particular colors, I found, helps me to identify a particular unit build that I’ve designed.
Like in GSB, some of these components must be unlocked by playing the main game. Unlike GSB, you have pre-determined slots that you drag the appropriate components into…that is, you won’t be able to put components in specific areas of your vehicle. Components have roman numerals on their icon to help separate the variants of the same weapon, and it should be noted that higher numbers don’t always mean that they are better. You might opt to choose a lower numbered weapon, for example, if it had a faster fire rate than the one above it. New to the series is the addition of augmentations, which affect the unit as a whole regardless of what other components are present. Examples might include better firing accuracy, more ammunition capacity, armor penetration, and etc. It’s important to note that you’ll be able to edit things like troops and turrets, in addition to tanks.
The main campaign menu allows you to do a number of different things. While the ability to play your standard levels at three different difficulty levels is present, you’ll also be able to edit levels and save them as your own. In addition to that, you’ll be able to try challenges that other users have created and uploaded to the general server. You’ll have to register your CD key and select a user name via the online profile area of the game’s main menu first before you can see any of these challenges. The editor itself is fairly complex and takes some getting used to, but you’ll be able change the layout of the level, assign paths for the attacking side, create hard points for the defenders, and more.
When you attempt to play one of the campaign maps as either the attacker or defender, you’ll be presented with a few different options. On the defensive side of things, you have the option to instruct the AI attacker to pull units from a pre-defined script, the standard units programmed with the main game, or from standard units including any that you may have created. In regards to offense, you can instruct the defensive AI to use the standard units programmed for that scenario or to make use of user-created units in addition to the standard ones. I found these options to be a great addition, as they give the user the ability to see how well their own creations fare when used against them. For you chess players out there, this is like playing both sides of the board.
The interface in-game is fairly easy to navigate. The attacker will have a limited supply of resources that they’ll use to create units while the defender has an unlimited supply to build defenses. Each attacking unit has a victory point value and if the attacker manages to sneak through enough units, they will earn themselves a win. The defender, to compensate for having unlimited resources, will gain them slowly and must strategically manage the costs associated with each defense unit. What’s more, not all units are built instantly, so the defender will need to account for build time, among other things. The only complaint that I have about the in-game play mode is the graphics as I feel they could be a bit better. I also wouldn’t complain if they allowed me to rotate the camera in three dimensions and not be limited to a top-down view.
Overall, “Gratuitous Tank Battles” has a lot to offer to strategy game / tower defense enthusiasts. I could easily spend hours creating and tweaking units to my heart’s content, and that time-frame doesn’t include the time I’d spend actually playing the missions. For those of you not interested in creating your own units, the game does have default units available so that you can jump right in and play. In terms of difficulty, the game is harder and more complex than GSB, but this is mainly because GTB has more features to offer. Those willing to learn the ins and outs of the tools that the game provides will find this game to be a time sink, and I mean that in a good way. If you liked GSB but yearned for more content, then GTB will fit the bill nicely.
Final Verdict: 7/10
You can learn more about and purchase “Gratuitous Tank Battles” by visiting the following websites:
You can check out video play sessions here: