You can never go wrong with tanks; hulking, mechanical, and iron-clad death-dealers that blow up anything that happens to be on the business end of their cannons. These weapons of wanton destruction can turn anything to smithereens, and surely can seamlessly tie into a video game.
Taking from this point, the folks from Alternativa Platform gives us Tanki Online, a free-to-play, browser-based MMO that has players pilot their very own tanks and lay waste on other players in an all-out war for map domination.
Can this new tank-based MMO make a name for itself and blow the competition away, or does it leave a lot to be desired and ultimately end up like a guy who brought a knife into a gun fight? Let's find out!
The Rules are Simple
If there is one word that can summarize Tanki Online, it would be the word simplicity. The maps are very straightforward, often having a low ground, a middle ground, and some cliffs and high grounds that give tactical advantages. In terms of the aesthetics, they leave a lot to be desired - blocky-looking buildings that all look the same and foliage that do not realistic at all. For those who have grown accustomed to the High-Definition, photo-realistic environment that modern MMOs proudly proclaim they have, they might get turned off by the blandness and simplistic take Tanki Online's maps exude. It appears the maps are more designed for function rather than detail and judging from the kind of tanks available in this game (read: a tank that shoots LASERS, FIRE and ICE!).
The tank designs are also simple at best, not too outlandish. Their stocky bulky design are reminiscent, surprisingly, of earlier first-person shooters that are a bit pixelated and square; some of the newer gamers might scoff at the overall dated look the game has, but for those who have a nostalgic bone in their bodies (there is such a thing, right?), they might remember the good old days when LAN gaming was the most ground-breaking thing in the gaming world and it was all about how well you've mastered the game.
Tanki Online's gameplay revolves around four simple game modes. The first game mode is Death Match where players can rev up their tanks and straight up try to turn other players' tanks to twisted metal. The second game mode is Team Death Match which employs having players to team with one another with the hopes of blowing the enemy team away. Third, there is Capture-the-Point, where teams are to secure certain points within the given map under a time limit in order to win the game. Finally there's Capture-the-Flag, a mode where players try to stop the opposing team from getting their flag while at the same time trying to steal theirs. These game modes are simple and even the casual gamer can get the hang of the rules easily.
The controls of Tanki Online wholly rely on the keyboard. It uses the W,S,A and D buttons for the tank movement, similar to most FPS games. The difference lies in aiming the cannon - unlike other tank games, Tanki Online does not use the mouse to aim the tank's cannon. The < and the > buttons serve at turning the cannon to the left and right while the C button centers the cannon. Knowing this seemingly simple thing is crucial in this game, as the camera exclusively follows where the turret is facing, not to mention that the game is viewed as a third-person shooter. That being said, players are treated to a third-person and this keyboard-exclusive set up can prove to be somewhat of an annoyance. There is also a self-destruct button that players can use when their tanks, for one reason or another, end up upside down (which happens surprisingly a lot during the tense matches). Unfortunately, self-destruction cannot be used to blow up opponents, which was a bummer, as it would have been a funny way to get a kill.
Firing the cannon is done via pressing the space button; while it is true that tanks are not the most accurate machines, not using the mouse for aiming feels weird, seeing that the game incorporates a predominantly First-Person Shooter controls. Speaking of aim, Tanki Online makes aiming easy for players - as long as the turret has the opponent dead center, just give it a second or two and the turret will correctly angle the cannon itself so that the enemy tank can be hit.
It's Not The Size of the Gun in the Fight...
Regarding classes, Tanki Online gives players some options when choosing what kind of tank they want to control. For the cannons, players can use the standard One-Cartridge Cannon that has medium reload speed but packs quite a punch. There is a dual-barrel cannon that shoots laser balls; they don't require any reload times but their damage are somewhat weaker than the other cannons when trying to hit enemies that are farther. For those who want to get up close and personal with when destroying the opposition, there are flamethrower and freezing cannons that deal more damage the longer opponents are within the torrent. The rail gun is also available for players who want to blow up enemies at extremely long distances; these weapons take a while to load, but when it hits an opponent, a good chunk of their health will surely be gone. There is also a medic-type of cannon that heals allies when playing in the team-related matches.
Several tank hulls are also at the players' disposal - there are hulls that are more maneuverable but have weaker armor than others; hulls that are heavily armored but are sluggish and cumbersome to drive around with and some specialty hulls that provide specific advantages (such as having a turret be manned at a certain height, making spotting enemies easier). Players can also change the color of their tanks; most of these are purely cosmetic and offer no tactical advantages apart from looking cool as you rumble through the battleground.
Players can mix and match the available cannons and hulls and test out which combination suits their play style. This customization provides some depth in the game, as players are given the chance to create the perfect tanks for them to use and own opponents with. The hulls and cannons can also be upgraded which is a nice touch as it provides another level of gameplay specialization.
Earning One's Stripes
Tanki Online has a ranking system that rewards players on how well they do on a given battle on any of the three game modes. Players are given crystals, the in-game currency of the game, which they can use to upgrade their cannons and hulls. Each cannon and hull can be upgraded further individually, as each has specific ratings in general areas. Cannons, for instance, have slower firing rates, or deal damage menially when in certain distances than others; crystals can be used in order to bolster the areas where your preferred cannon lacks, or further increase the effectiveness of the criteria you cannon already has. This enhancement further increases the replay value of Tanki Online, as players can spend hours on opting to hone their skills on their preferred hull-cannon combination further, or try out multiple builds so that they become a Jack-of-Traits kind of gamer (in this game, at least).
All players start as recruits, but as they compete and do well in their games, they get the chance to level up and gain access to more powerful hulls, cannons and more tank colors. There is some sense of fulfillment that comes when you level up and get to take hold of more powerful weaponry because of your mastery of a particular cannon or even the mastery of a couple of tank builds. But for those who are impatient and have the coin to splurge, they can opt to buy some crystals in the in-game shop to unlock and upgrade the cannons and hulls faster than the others.
Pros and Cons
- controls are relatively easy to learn
- different kinds of tanks and guns
- multiple kinds of game modes
- fast gameplay
- upgradable and customizable hulls and guns
- level up from recruit to general
- nostalgia trip for older gamers
- graphics and designs look ordinary and out-of-date in today's standards
- camera reliant on where the turret is pointing
- controls feel a bit clunky
- pay to win (in terms of upgrades)
- offers nothing new to the genre
- no narrative whatsoever (just twisted metal)
Tanki Online is an MMO that plays to its strengths amid its shortcomings. It's a very in-your-face, no-nonsense tank game that harkens back to older titles for nostalgia value while covering its unoriginal concept. While the map and tank graphics look old school compared to the more contemporary titles, Tanki Online delivers fast gameplay and a surprisingly wide range of customization. Fans of Battle Tanks might get a kick (or two) out of this game. If you're looking at a game that offers all kinds of retroactive feels, then Tanki Online might just be the game for you!