World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition
is a free-to-play, free-for-all of tanks – American tanks, British tanks, German tanks – pitted against each other in straight-up, head-to-head matches of one live team versus another. There is no story, no ultimate, long-term goal. The player has two jobs and two jobs only: stay alive and destroy the enemy.
The game opens in the garage. One will spend a good bit of time here researching and purchasing tanks. First up, however, is the training section. The training/tutorial takes the form of a series of videos that give the lowdown on each tank’s strengths and vulnerabilities and good tactics for each class, as well as other helpful topics. Additionally, the garage is where one buys consumables (such as repair kits and fire extinguishers), purchases upgrades, changes load outs, and chooses camouflage.
Leveling up tanks is done through research trees. Research opens new areas on the tree to make tank packages available for purchase. At elite levels, these are remarkably expensive. The T-92, for example, cost 916,585 XP and 6.1 million silver both of which are earned in battle.
Five classes of tanks are available to choose from in the game, each with different abilities: the light tank, medium tank, heavy tank, artillery, and tank destroyer. As one moves down the list from light to artillery, the tanks get slower and more hard-hitting with the exception of tank destroyers which have a great deal of variation.
The light tank is a small, fast tank and quite fragile. Used primarily for reconnaissance, light tanks are meant to stay on the move; they are the eyes of the team. Big guns like artillery cannot see the enemy until its position is marked by the forward tanks.
Medium tanks are the most versatile - a good bit bigger and heavier than light tanks and tank destroyers while still maintaining a good bit of speed as compared to the heavier tanks and artillery. Medium tanks are the “pack” tanks of the game; they tend to roam in groups for protection and work best for flanking and harassing big tanks.
While they move rather slowly compared to lights and mediums, heavy tanks are much more mobile than artillery, load much faster, and hit pretty darned hard. As the most heavily armored, they can take the most damage before being destroyed.
Artillery is the game’s heaviest hitter. It can take out tanks from very far away, usually in one hit. Made to find a good hiding place and stay in one spot, this is the only tank with a top-down bird’s eye view for aiming. While it hits very hard, the re-load times are very slow.
Finally are tank destroyers, the snipers of the game – very big guns on smaller tanks that tend to stay behind the main team and pick off enemies. These are great for taking out artillery and have very strong forward armor but are easily destroyed.
The average wait in the lobby is a couple of minutes. Teams are matched with up to fifteen tanks per team with a maximum of fifteen minutes per match; experience is determined by how much one participates – kills, flags, mission accomplished, etc. One is not rewarded for finding a place to hide. Taking the time to build one’s skills definitely pays off here.
The community seems friendly and forgiving, chatting and giving directions as the game proceeds. In addition to the mic, one has a command function. Pulling the left trigger brings up messages that can be sent to teammates. These greatly enhance communication because a command will mark the request on the map, making a player in need of help much easier to locate. The two tank teams show up as two rows of squares across the top of the screen, one green and the other red. As a team member is knocked out, that square will dim so that it's easy to see just how many of the team are still in the fight. If time runs out while both sides have surviving tanks, the team with the most survivors wins.
The controls take a little getting used to. The left stick moves the tank; the right stick turns the turret. It can be awkward occasionally because the tank will move in whatever direction it's pointing. If the turret isn't facing the same direction, it can feel like one is driving sideways. Other than this, the controls feel very natural with the left trigger zooming in on the target and the right trigger shooting.
After battle, it's back to the garage. When a tank goes down in battle, one is given the option to stay and watch or return to the garage. Either way, the player will receive the rewards earned. Any tank destroyed in battle is unavailable until the match is over; if the player has another tank in inventory, however, one may jump straight into another match.
XP is the currency used for research. Tank XP (silver stars) can only be used on the tank that earned it; free XP (gold stars) can be used to research anything. Silver is the cash of the game. Tank XP and silver are earned in battle. Free XP can be earned in battle, as well, but only if a tank no longer requires tank XP. In other words, only premium or elite tanks earn free experience; when a tank has no place left on the tree to research, its tank XP is automatically converted to free XP.
Elite tanks are those that have exhausted their research tree. Premium tanks are unique machines, some to be found among the research trees, others available from the in-game store. They come fully upgraded, so any experience earned with them automatically translates to free XP.
The game's premium service provides an extra 50% silver and XP per battle. One day of premium costs 250 gold while 360 days costs 24,000 gold. Gold costs real money: 1,250 gold costs $6.99 and increments can be purchased up to 25,000 gold for $99.99. Gold may be exchanged for silver at a rate of 400 silver per gold. Gold can also be used to convert tank XP to free XP. The pricing is fair. Five days for $6.99 can really speed up research and upgrades without breaking the bank. The micro-transactions are nicely balanced. Manual fire extinguishers and small repair kits (say if a tank throws a track) can be purchased with the silver earned in the game. Nicer versions are available for gold at a reasonable price; one bundle that included twenty each of automatic fire extinguishers, large repair kits, and large med kits costs 3,000 gold. These aren't necessary to enjoying the game, but at the same time, if someone wants to splurge, there's a clear distinction between the two versions - a feeling of getting one's money's worth, so to speak.
The graphics in the game are very pleasant. It is not a realistic, photographic environment, but the details are nice, the countryside pretty, and the towns appropriately bombed out. One nice thing about driving tanks is that one rarely has to find a way around obstacles; tanks can plow right through them, which is fun.
The achievements are very straightforward, not complicated but very time-consuming if one is a completionist. One has to play 100 matches with each tank for a total of 500 matches. In addition, one has to have 500 kills and level a tank all the way up to elite status, which takes a long time because of the experience required.
All in all, World of Tanks
is very enjoyable. The game runs smoothly with no lag, provides a variety of choices, is easy to learn, and it’s free. On the flip side, it’s a long grind to finish all the achievements, especially if one doesn’t want to invest in any premium services, but if one has some buddies to play with, it’s a lot of fun.The reviewer spent just under six hours with the game and won 11 of 29 achievements. The publisher provided in-game money, experience, and premium service for reviewing purposes.