Gratuitous Tank Battles is the latest game from indie developer Positech Games, and is the spiritual successor to Gratuitous Space Battles. This time around you hang up your admirals hat, don a snazzy new helmet and get stuck in with the grunts in a unique take on the classic Tower Defense genre.
Tower Defense is more overpopulated than WW2 shooters back in 2003, and as a result trying to stand out among the masses (many of which are free), is not a simple task. GTB takes a fresh approach and instead of giving you a variety of towers which unlock gradually over the course of the game, you are given the components to create your own towers. Whether it be giant lasers, or gargantuan flame cannons or even a squad of infantry packing some pea shooters, the level of customisation is astonishing. To make the interface more user friendly, the way you create units has been streamlined by the use of specific slots for weapons and armour etc. but don’t mistake that for being dumbed down. The depth of GSB is definitely here in GTB.
But that’s not all! Not only can every mission be played as the defender, but they can also be played as the attacker. This completely changes how you play the game, and of course you can construct everything yourself from repair trucks, ambulances and tanks to enormous battle mechs with metre thick hyper shielding goodness. So from the get go, you are given two different games and an incredibly powerful creation tool.
That is all well and good, but if the gameplay is not up to snuff then all the customisation in the world is not going to save it. Luckily, GTB nails it. Perfectly. Each mission gets progressively harder, with new threats thrown at you every time to test your skills. One mission could be your simple stop the enemy getting from Point A to Point B, whilst the next could be played in the dead of night forcing you to use night vision and cover multiple entry and exit points. It is a brilliant blend of classic tower defense and innovative thinking.
Just to add icing to the cake, each mission can be played in 3 different ways when defending. Do you want a scripted enemy which uses a predefined unit set, an adaptive enemy which will exploit the weaknesses in your lines, or an enemy that uses every unit at its disposal…including the ones you created. These kinds of options really add to the game’s replay value.
The fun doesn’t end after the campaign is over either! Like GSB before it, GTB has a brilliant online mode which allows you to set. and accept challenges from around the world. You can construct the ultimate attack force, and pit it against the worlds greatest defense, or try to defend against someone elses attack etc. What makes this mode so good is the fact that every opponent has their own unique units that they created, making every encounter a test of skill. You can even create your own levels for the world to fight against, once again adding to the already hefty package.
Graphically speaking, GTB looks really nice. Whilst not particularly groundbreaking in appearance, the classic Gratuitous style has made the transition from Sci-Fi to WW1 intact. And when you have complete control over the look of the units and the maps, you can’t help but appreciate the visual package. In terms of audio, the music is acceptable but the sound effects are brilliant. Zooming in to view the battle from a different perspective causes every bullet, spout of flame and laser to explode from your speakers as if you were actually on the front lines.
Overall, GTB has risen the bar for which all Tower Defense games should strive for. With brilliant gimmick free gameplay, endless multiplayer and a fantastic creation kit, this is one heck of a game. I can’t recommend it enough to those of you who are fans of the genre. Accept no imitations.