I've been playing a lot of MMOs recently, all with a human avatar, so it was quite a change to play World of Tanks Blitz. Even more different to play it with a touch display on my iPad.
I'll be honest - when I played my first match I wasn't a fan. There's no storyline: no reason for controlling these third-person tanks as they attempt to kill each other. I wondered why I was doing this when there was no reason to, because I have a psychological need for a story. It's why I can't watch Big Brother or X-Factor without suffering an embolism. But I knuckled down and gave World of Tanks a chance. And I'm glad I did.
You control a tank - chosen from a selection of 90 Russian, German and American tanks including some that were designed but never built. Your team of seven has to either destroy the opposing team's tanks, or capture the base on one of eight maps. You capture by having at least one of your team's tanks remain in the circle that designates it for a count of 100. That can go for 100 seconds or less, depending on how many tanks you have in the circle.
And that's as many game modes as World of Tanks Blitz has. Just deathmatch - but it does it well. Each tank has varying reload times, meaning you could have more armour than the opposition, but if you can't fire as fast as them you're just as likely to die as them. Different speeds, maximum ammo and such. Ammo types are high explosive and armour piercing. Sadly none of these choices can be made tactically heading into a match, as the matches are random and only using certain classes of tanks. A Sherman is a different class to a Jackson for instance, due to their sizes and can only go against similar-sized tanks - to stop Class I tanks like the Cunningham being owned by Class X tanks like the Jagdpanzer's, for example.
Post-battle you get experience for the tank as well as credits. If you're a premium member you get 50% more of each. You get told who killed you and all the usual, as well as what free experience you received. This is different to experience as it is used to research upgrades for tanks you're not using, but experience is only for the tank you just competed with. This helps you upgrade everything you want to use, without having to use it.
You can also exchange credits for gold, World of Tanks Blitz's premium currency. 400 credits is one gold, meaning that if you want to use the gold to buy a year's worth of premium, it would cost you just shy of five and a half million credits. Or pay £34.99 for 16,000 gold as an IAP. But apart from the extra free experience and credits (used for 85% of purchases), Premium doesn't add any advantages.
On to the actual gameplay. The controls are easy enough to handle with the turret turning when you move your finger across the screen and the tank responding to the joystick well enough. Each tank handles differently as you'd expect and responds to the terrain as they should. However, this does mean you can screw yourself by angling it wrong and sliding down a slope, damaging your tread and having to wait while it repairs. Health does not regenerate, but repairs are made so the next hit doesn't hurt any more than it should. Your crew tells you what is damaged, both on-screen and vocally, as well as what your shot did when you fire on an enemy. Each match is timed, but honestly none of my matches lasted long enough to find out what happens at the zero. When you die you can quit and get your rewards, but you cannot use that tank whilst the battle is still running.
Apart from battles and researching upgrades, there is a chat box - and that's it. There is the ability to create Platoons - a gang of you and one other person - to go into matches with, but it’s a very minor thing. The game is quite single-minded about being a world populated solely by tanks vying for territory. But it does it well enough to be a fun time. Although it is a struggle from the off as you have a limited amount of credits, tanks and space in your garage, there is still plenty of fun to be had. The tension of waiting for a reload, ducking behind cover of a rock or building just in time - even watching your teammates do the same after you die can be nail-biting stuff.
World of Tanks is probably more suited for those who love the challenge of PvP and just want to spend some time driving tanks. Not for those who are looking for a community-building MMO, though the community exists if you want to get involved - there just doesn't appear to be any urging reason to do so. With the random placement of tanks in each match, it takes away from the playing-with-friends aspect of online gaming.
With the login and play near-instant action, this is quite a good game. However its lack of substance makes it unsuitable for all players. Those who have played the PC version will enjoy the scaled-back nature of this as they can play on the move, but it’s unlikely to convert everyone. The lack of features really pulls it down, as does the lack of a real social experience.
World of Tanks Blitz (Reviewed on iOS)
This game is good, with a few negatives.
With the login and play near-instant action, this is quite a good game. Those who have played the PC version will enjoy the scaled-back nature of this as they can play on the move, but it’s unlikely to convert everyone to PvP.