Despite its potential for originality and pure innovation, alternate reality (AR) gaming has yet to make waves where current-gen hardware is concerned.
That isn’t to say developers haven’t dabbled with the idea of bridging their lavishly-constructed virtual worlds with our own. Sony in particular has taken numerous punts at capitalising AR tech with games such as the cutesy EyePet and somewhat-overlooked Invizimals, not to mention Japan Studio’s expansive AR card game, The Eye of Judgment.
Even in its infancy, the PlayStation Vita already accommodates its fair share of alternate reality, yet none of the games on show have set the world on the fire. Looking to change that is developer Devil’s Details and the studio’s latest handheld title, Table Top Tanks.
This ambitious yet relatively cheap Vita game definitely has its highlights, though it’s far from being an absolute blast.
Similar to the bitesize morsels of gaming goodness we tend to see on mobile devices, Table Top Tanks gets straight down to business, doing away with the slapped together story-telling tid bits that bog down a number of its counterparts.
Instead, players are given a straightforward list of missions to complete that gradually become more complex. From a top down perspective you will command a vanilla-looking tank, using the shoulder buttons and dual analog sticks to speed over waypoints, collect flags, and bombard enemy targets.
Each of the dozen or so scenarios are also littered with power ups and other on-screen elements includes barricades and turrets, but to say that each one feels unique would be untrue. Minus a number of small variations, you’ll be repeating the same missions time and time again.
Table Top Tanks is rudimentary in its design, the lack of your typical three-star achievement system also sapping away some much-needed replay value.
In terms of the actual set-up, there were numerous issues, though nothing uncommon. Like any other AR title, optimal lighting and a good distance between the player and active cards are needed at all times. There’s no point in half-arsing on these prerequisites; watching as Table Top Tanks stutters between error screens and gameplay due to poor lighting is the epitome of frustration.
One of the more interesting features the game has to offer is its “Solo Creator” mode. It’s nothing revolutionary, not by a long shot, but still adds to what is a clever premise. After selecting one the three available game modes (capture the flag/2-on-2 deatmatch/last man standing) you can construct your own custom map in no less than ten seconds.
Aside from being able to erect turrets and place item pick-ups, you’ll also be able to transform real-world objects into obstacles in-game.
- Gameplay is focused and works well.
- Includes local multiplayer.
- Solo Creator adds a glimmer of innovation.
- At £1.59 there is little to complain about.
- Only a small selection of missions, most of which are fairly similar.
- No particular advantages to experimenting with weapons/pick-ups.
- Tank customisation is fairly limited.
Table Top Tanks really isn’t the killer app for AR gaming, but to say it’s a disappointment would be unfair. Despite being simplistic in most respects and offering little replay incentive, it also happens to be one of the cheapest games available on the Playstation Store at a surprising £1.59.
What’s more, it even features a small collection of trophies which is quite bizarre really. There are a wealth of PlayStation Minis that are considerably bigger and a lot more expensive, yet don’t qualify for Sony’s brand of e-peen extensions.