March 21st, 2012 | By Mike Gnade
Gratuitous Tank Battles is here (well in Beta form at least) and is on track to be Positech’s deepest strategy game yet. For those of you who are unfamiliar with GTB, it is the spiritual successor to Gratuitous Space Battles (GSB) and is a tower-defense game where you can play as both attacker and defender. My biggest complaint about GSB was that it was all about designing and issuing orders to your space ships. The battles looked awesome, but there really wasn’t much to do during the battles other than enjoy the fireworks. GTB solves this problem. Like other tower-defense games, GTB allows you to change your strategy and adapt in real time. You can still sit back and enjoy the great explosions and visual effects, but there are always more mechs, troops, and turrets to deploy, deconstruct or command.
GTB is looking to be the deepest strategy offering from Positech Games yet. One of the best things about GTB is that you can hop right in and play, but after beating the first few missions you’ll realize that the game’s AI is pretty devious and that in order to succeed you’re going to have to design your own units and improve your strategy. The level of customization in this game is overwhelming. You can design your own units, create your own maps, save your game strategies, challenge folks online and more. Needless to say, there is plenty of content to sink your teeth into – I would call the GTB Beta more of a Release Candidate than a Beta. This thing is chock full of features.
GTB takes place in an alternate reality where WWI never ended and still rages on well into the future. There’s really no story to speak, but this interesting setup does seem to influence the game’s visuals and setting. Speaking of which, the visuals are a natural upgrade of what GSB offered. The biggest graphical improvement is in the units themselves since there is more animation this time around. Soldiers scurry along, Mechs walk and swivel and everything still looks just as jaw-dropping when it blows up. There is also more variety in the environments (you can only do so much in space) and some awesome night and snow effects that really add to the package.
The best thing about GTB is the fact that you can play as attacker or defender. Playing as a defender is pretty standard Tower-Defense mechanics. It’s a much deeper experience, but the basics are the same. I spent the first few hours playing as a defender – until the amazing adaptive AI started kicking my ass. I decided to switch to Attacker and instantly felt like I was experiencing something completely new. As an attacker you have a whole new set of units to play with (tanks, mechs, and so on instead of just stationary turrets) but you also have a different set of strategic options in front of you as well.
Attacking is complex and rich with possibilities. You’re not just placing stationary units, you have to factor in unit speed and the multiple paths that litter most of the maps. This duality really makes GTB feel like two different but related games. Defending is all about gritting your teeth and destroying every unit – it’s full of tension and stress. Attacking is more of a rush. I quickly found that saving up my supplies to create a massive and overwhelming number of units satiated my inner desire for destruction. I almost laughed like some sort of deranged genocidal maniac, but my wife was home so I contained myself.
GTB is already a fantastic game that eclipses GSB. It’s great to actually have something to do during battle. For those of you who are thinking of passing on GTB
More information on Gratuitous Tank Battles can be found on the game’s official website.