When the going gets tough.....
So you want me to talk about Gratuitous Tank battles. Well what do you want me to say about it? The one step ahead tactics you need to win? Or the stupendously deep customisation options? Maybe the level editor or adaptable AI. Well let’s start with an intro and see where this goes.
Gratuitous Tank Battles is from indie developers Positech Games. In its simplest form it is a game like many other tower defence title based on defending a certain route. However Gratuitous Tank Battles actually allows players to experience the opposite angle and attack. Like the AI we have all destroyed for so long the goal of the attackers is to score what is known in GTB as victory points by getting units from one side of the route to the other successfully. The defenders more typically hold choke points on the map and attempt to stop the attackers succeeding through the use of an assortment of turrets and troops.
The premise of the game from my description may sound simple and easy, but it’s far from it. You have to have a solid plan and need to be able to realise what you need to do, and when to do it to succeed in this game. I have failed many times as both attackers and defenders because of a wrong decision or misjudging enemy moves. The tutorial is helpful from the get go and the hint system is always there to guide you to victory, but when it’s go time you need to bring your A game too.
Strategy plays a large role in GTB. The freedom to give commands to your units on the go is a great addition and essential to victory. There are many other strategic elements to the gameplay, such as in the later levels where multiple paths are present you can order units along certain paths to try and out think the enemy. As defenders it’s always essential to have the upper advantage and try to second guess your enemies next units in order to set up an effective defence. Perhaps something to add for the future would be the ability to upgrade defences during battle. This would stop the defence side of the game being decided by a couple of wrong turret placements and maybe iron out the slight attacker advantage when it comes to keeping ahead of the game.
A point where GTB excels is depth. This game has some serious customisation options allowing you to change weapons, armour, look and augmentations to a really fine level, with each choice defining unit costs, strengths and weaknesses with full details on a whole host of different upgrades. The amount of detail and thought gone into the game really shines through in the unit editor. The editor practically allows you to create whole new units to use in the action meaning you can build the forces you want and there is plenty to unlock to keep you going. There is also a built in level editor allowing you to create different levels so the fun can go on and on until you can defend no more.
Further extending the depth but in a different area, the difficulty allows you not just to pick from 3 difficulty levels but also how the AI acts. There are options such as a scripted AI that keeps everything the same to allow you to play the same experience again and again. You can choose to have a more random experience though by allowing the AI to adapt to how you’re attacking / defending. This allows for a very rich and varied experience and the latter of these options definitely keeps you on your toes during combat.
Gratuitous Tank Battles’ aesthetic is definitely a world war themed one. Although futuristic units such as mech drones and other future tech like laser guns and shields do appear in the game to give it the sense of the future as the game is set in an alternate timeline. Positech certainly pull off the distant future world war look with flying colours. In terms of graphical prowess GTB isn’t lacking but at the same time isn’t going to be requiring you to upgrade any time soon. Gratuitous Tank Battles is by no means an ugly game though. A lower end system will be able to cope with this hybrid of RTS and tower defence with no problem so anyone can enjoy it.
Overall Gratuitous Tank Battles has many of the core experiences of a great tower defence game whilst adding a really fresh perspective on the genre by allowing attacking and customisation. The AI options mixed with the difficulty make the game easy to keep coming back too and the level editor means that should you become too familiar with the levels included you can simply make a new one and let the fun continue. So despite the steep learning curve there really aren’t many reasons not to like the game and so earns this reviewers seal of approval.
A look at the incredible customisation