World of Tanks – Free to play armored warfare

In medieval times, heavy plate armor made knights nearly invincible on the battlefield. In the 20th century armored vehicles dominated the landscapes of WWI and WWII. Belarus video game developer has released a free to play game for the PC and XBOX 360 called World of Tanks which focuses on tracked vehicular combat from the ‘golden era’ of tank history.

With 1,472,000 active players worldwide this game has been gaining attention in North America. It features impressive physics and graphics, realistic tank models, and immersive gameplay. Military enthusiasts will appreciate the attention to detail and historical accuracy of the 270+ tanks included with the game. All tanks are dated from the late 1930’s to the mid 60’s.

Although it is billed as a MMO (massively multiplayer online) game, the premise is very simple. After downloading and installing the client you arrive in your garage and see that you have 7 small tanks that are ready for combat. You pick the one you want to use and press the battle button.

Credit and experience are earned as you win battles against other player opponents. There is no single player version of the game. Eventually after upgrading your tank you are able to move on to the next tier – gradually unlocking heavier and more powerful tanks as you progress. Your tanks are available from seven different countries – Russia, USA, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Japan and China.

The tanks from each country have different characteristics, for example: the Russian tanks are slow and heavily armored whereas the German tanks are known for the accuracy of their guns. War historians will be delighted to see the famous Russian T-34 medium tank and the powerful German Tiger panzer. Each country has tank research trees split into Light Tanks, Medium Tanks, Heavy Tanks, SPG’s (artillery) and Tank Destroyers.

The many different maps attempt to recreate historical battlefields with a variety of city, field and desert landscapes from throughout the European and North African theatres of War. A satisfying feature is the way your tank can drive through houses, crush cars and topple trees that can provide additional camouflage.

My only criticism of the game is the steep learning curve. Although unique, the spotting and camouflage mechanic within the game just doesn’t make sense for new players – sometimes enemy tanks just disappear and you have no idea why. The ballistics and armor physics require a PhD to fully understand and although I appreciate the level of detail, it can seem like your bullets ricochet unpredictably.

This is just an overview of the game, there are so many features it would be difficult to mention them all. The game is updated regularly with free content being added all the time. Clan Wars provides exciting end-game depth by providing an entire continent for you and your clanmates to conquer as you battle against other clans for resources and fame. It’s like a first person shooter version of the board game Risk, but with tanks.

The player base is usually helpful and the forums are lively and bustling. The game has very low system requirements. In my view it is a great game for kids because there is no blood or graphic violence.

There is a nice balance between realism and gameplay. You don’t have to spend hours learning the controls like a simulator. Tournaments are held regularly and there is even a professional league called the WGLNA in which you can watch your favourite teams battle it out live on

World of Tanks is most definitely the greatest armored vehicle combat game ever developed and although it hasn’t caught on in North America it is a cultural phenomenon in Russia and Europe. Keep your eye out for this one.

Pros: Realistic models, Amazing graphics, Historical accuracy, Immersive gameplay, Shell ballistics, Variety of game modes, Clan Wars, Huge variety of tanks, FREE

Cons: Steep learning curve, Unpredictable ricochets, No single-player story, Slow pace

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