War Of The Human Tanks has quite the weird premise in that, as you can guess, that the tanks used in battle are human or at least things that act and look human. The game has been developed by Yakiniku Banzai and published by Fruitbat Factory, and you can tell inspiration has come from the classic game of Battleship with an evolution to the formula. a bold task to undertake and one that has been well executed.
Let’s begin with the strange yet oddly enticing plot which sees you in the shoes of Lieutenant Shoutaro Daihon’ei, a member of the Imperial Army of Japon, who is called to fight in the war against the Kingdom of Japon. He has been inactive for quite a few years before being recalled and instead of prepping for war has spent his time playing games and watching anime, while his sister Chiyoko, aka Choko, and a few remaining human tanks have been pottering around doing nothing. Then Second Lieutenant Satou arrives and brings this frozen squad back to the battleground.
As mentioned it’s hard not to compare War Of The Human Tanks to battleship where you place your pieces on the board, while the AI does the same though neither side can see where the enemy positions are. Your pieces are combined of Command units which if destroyed means you lose the battle, Shock units that are basically bombs that explode when attacking meaning they are also lost. Assault units are the basic infantry which use rifles to take out enemy tanks, and Battery that can do long range damage. Then you have Scouts, which as you can guess, do recon, Interceptors which defend your units from incoming missiles, then finally the Samurai/Knight tanks which are the only units that can evade attacks.
These seven types are unlocked over the course of the campaign, and after each battle you can upgrade them by developing units with more weapons or modules that give certain advantages to different tanks. This research is funded by crates with the number rewarded dependent on how many enemy tanks were destroyed, how many you lost, and how long the battle took. It’s a good system to have because it keeps the game interesting as you decide how to shape your army as the battles get tougher. For example I didn’t really like using shock units and eventually my teams consisted of scouts, assault and battery types to give me maximum range on in battles.
So you have your tanks and your starting positions, as does the enemy. Now you go to war and this is a mix of anticipation and luck. You don’t just shoot at where you think the enemy may be but the path units could take. That’s the evolution over battleship as in War Of The Human Tanks the pieces move around, so at one point you may discover where a unit is then the next second that enemy could have moved onto one of the unknown squares, out of your scout’s recon range before firing from its hidden spot. Its a mechanic that can lead to some tense battles, but they never stray into frustrating.
In fact when you lose a battle it doesn’t seem unfair but instead a lesson, as you work out which tanks the enemy is fielding and figure out how to counter them. As the enemy tanks become more powerful you’re expected to have kept on developing your own army, improving your units so they can deal more damage or move further along the board. If you do this then difficulty won’t be a issue, with your own thinking skills coming into play. Do you fill your team with assault units to spread quickly across the map, or do you have a lot of units that can do long range damage?
I also like how War Of The Human Tanks presented itself with each battle being the focal point of an episode. The game’s campaign is designed like it is a TV show with intros and end credits present before and after each battle. There will be story scenes before the battle giving both a background and adding more depth to the characters, then scenes after the battle showing character reactions. What I also liked is that outside of key battles you didn’t have to win them for the story to progress. Instead the plot will move on and change depending on the outcome of the battle you just had, which means there are multiple endings that can be easier to see thanks to what basically amounts to a new game plus mode where you keep all your upgraded tanks as you play through the story again.
The fact that the only real criticisms I can level against War Of The Human Tanks is that the menu system when placing units before a battle needs work, as you have to keep scrolling and up down to select pieces, and that there is no multiplayer which would be great for this game, shows that Yakiniku Banzai has created a very fun title. The campaign lasts around seven hours and costs £6.99, which I think is great value for money especially since there is a re-playability due to the different endings. If you’re looking for a cheap strategy title then this is definitely for you.
- Developer:Yakiniku Banzai
- Publisher:Fruitbat Factory
- Release Date:14/01/14