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Review: World of Tanks
by Jacques Hulme

With the market for free, massively-multiplayer online games booming, competition is huge and the market becoming increasingly saturated. Jacques Hulme reviews just one of the MMOs taking a stab at success in the difficult industry. Reviewed on Microsoft Windows PC.

Grabbing a bargain is great. Getting a freebie is even better, and the free-to-play games market is constantly expanding, with new titles entering the fray on a regular basis. Many incorporate themselves into the highly successful MMO genre, with fluctuating success. As the selection of titles has grown, competition has become more and more fierce, and for newcomers to the market it can be difficult to grab the attention of gamers, partly due to the oversaturated market and partly thanks to the increased quality in both graphics and game writing displayed by such titles.

World of Tanks, from, offers a fresh experience to players, one which focusses on something slightly different than the usual offering of swords and shields. The game allows players to face enemy heavy armour, armed to the teeth with one of a selection of World War tanks. It's a new idea, pitting two teams of tanks against each other over a surprisingly large selection of maps. At the moment, tanks from the Russian, German and American armies are offered right from the outset, where you are given a light tank from each country to earn experience point with. As you gain XP, you are able to buy tank upgrades or entirely new tanks altogether. The amount of variety offered, considering World of Tanks is a free game, is tremendous; each country has a 'tech tree' of tanks, with all shapes and sizes of vehicles, and you even have the ability to select tanks which are suited to specific battle situations, be that wide and open terrain (best-suited to artillery and heavy tanks) or smaller maps in built-up areas (where light and medium armour tends to work best).

The level of detail boasted by World of Tanks is extremely impressive. From the design of the tanks to the damage system, it's clear that the title has every ability to compete with 'proper' retail games. Damage dealt to your tanks comes in a variety of areas, you can lose crew members, you can experience damage to you armour or even be unable to drive altogether, if a shot is lucky enough to land on your engine or tracks. Not only is the damage mechanic substantial, but you are also able to control where, and at what angle, a shell strikes its target, allowing you to become more and more adept with your vehicle as you move through the game. Of course, it's also important to utilise the cover spots offered by each map, as most boulders are able to withstand the impact force of an enemy shell much more adeptly than a tank can.

Of course, there are elements of World of Tanks which are exclusive only to premium members. For example, it is impossible to join friends in the same game unless you have the party feature, which is unlocked through the premium subscription. This also gives you the chance to earn more experience and cash from each battle than you normally would, meaning progression can be made much faster through the usage of a premium account. There are even a few premium tanks that one can purchase, which are unavailable to free players and can offer a big advantage to any battle. Perhaps these enhancements can be seen as unfair in some situations, but if you're willing to pay out hard-earnt cash, surely you should get something extra?

It is extremely difficult to find any reason why you shouldn't give World of Tanks a go. It's free, for a start, and offers a wide variety of options to players without asking for anything but your time. Whether you prefer sitting at the back of a map to shell foes using longer range vehicles, or move through small streets taking short, sharp shots, World of Tanks covers all the different avenues and caters for every sort of player type. There are more planned features which seem to be very interesting, such as the European clan battles, for example, which take place over many countries and aim to see hundreds of different clans playing against one another. If you're bored of war games focussed solely on action between footsoldiers, and want to get behind the wheel of something a little more meaty, World of Tanks would be a perfect place to start.

7/10 [?]

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- Jacques Hulme

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