World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition – got shrubbery?

By | October 2, 2013

Release: Xbox edition October 30, 2013

Good: Cool tanks, few moments of fun

Bad: Not a fun shooter, and not a fun tactical game

Ugly: Waiting and waiting for a random game to start

The Final Call: Freemium, not Paymium

A game like this comes along and I’m back to those long summer nights of lemonade, strawberry quiche, and 20-turn games of Panzer Leader. Nothing equals the sheer complexity, ingenuity, and sometimes quirkiness of World War 2 military machinery, especially tanks at all fronts of the war. I spent hours reading about each of those silhouetted tiles from that fabulous bookcase game, and remind you, this was the 80s, before the Internet. And so World of Tanks rolls in and I’m ecstatic…but not for very long, unfortunately.

I like this game, but mainly because it’s free. The tanks are cool, but it will take some time, or cash, to get to the real cool stuff like the Tiger. It’s easy to learn the game, but it’s also very easy to die. Noobs will quickly realize that moving is death, even behind the wheel of a speedy Light Tank. And death means you’re out, done, and back to the queue to wait for a new random game to start, which will sometimes take five minutes of your life.

My strategy resorted to camping behind a bush and waiting for noobs to cross my line of fire, kind of like the neighborhood bully with a slingshot. There were games where I only fired one or two rounds. When I would get tired of waiting and roll out of my hiding spot, an enemy camper would quickly sight and send me to purgatory. The trailer presents WOT as a high-paced Twisted Metal shooter, but it’s not. It’s not a fun shooter.

And so it’s got to be a good team-based, realistic, tactical game, right? Not exactly.

It was fun on a few rare occasions when I worked together in a team. In one game on the Province map, a medium tank and I set up cross-fire on hills while a light tank, the rabbit, drew out the bad guys. It worked! They saw the rabbit, salivated, stuck their necks out and we annihilated them. The guy driving the light tank was especially good. He was a zig-zag black belt.
I tried it again in other games with other people but the rabbit would get killed most of the time. The problem is that though light tanks are faster than other tanks, it is still not that fast. Scouts used armored cars or half-tracks or even motorcycles. So, realistically, it doesn’t really work with light tanks. I would add in some armored cars or motorcycles or even individual soldiers who can hide in the grass and spot the enemy for his comrades to out-flank.

That’s the problem for me with this game. It’s not a fun shooter because it tries to be too realistic, and it’s not a good tactical battle simulator because it’s not realistic enough. It needed to pick one and go with it.

I’m not convinced the freemium business model is a good one in the long run. The free part has to be smashing for people to pay, but if the free is smashing, then there’s less incentive to upgrade. WOT is a decent free game, but it’s not smashing. It’s more about hiding behind a bush.

The first fifty seconds of the trailer needs to be cut. I don’t need to sit through all of that to know it’s for Xbox because the title says Xbox edition.

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