|Release: April 12, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
The deeper game mode, due to be implemented soon (you can already sign up for it), is Clan Wars, a never-ending campaign in which you join a group of other players in a "clan" and try to take over hundreds of territories on a map of the world. Controlling territories brings in currency for the clan. Because this mode lets you play on a consistent team and even conduct diplomacy, this mode will lend itself to even more careful strategizing. Of course, this mode will also be much more demanding; the members of a team will be given thirty minutes' notice when one of their territories has been challenged. (There can be up to 100 people in each clan, and a maximum of fifteen can take part in a battle.)
There are a few other multiplayer features as well. For example, you can create a small platoon or even a large company with your friends (though at least one member needs a premium membership at $10/month for this). Or, you can help a clan out, without joining it, as a paid mercenary. The forthcoming Historic Campaigns will be special re-creations of various real-life battles. The maps will be based on real World War II battle locations, albeit adjusted to smooth out any unfair advantages the original terrain offered one side or the other. These events promise a lot of fun for history buffs, and for everyone else, they offer a nice midpoint between the several-minute-long random battles and the labor-intensive Clan mode.
Graphically, this game is far from a powerhouse, but it's not bad for free. The maps include both wide-open landscapes and city scenes, with plenty of cover and destructable objects. The textures and models could use a little more detail, but in the end, they don't look bad enough to distract you. The sound effects don't stand out much either; they get the job done, but they won't win any awards.
Finally, a word on real money. Like all free-to-play games, World of Tanks strongly encourages you to pony up, but technically you're not required to. In addition to the ability to play with friends, a premium membership gives you a fifty-percent boost in the credits and EXP you earn. You can also use real money (converted to in-game "gold") to buy credits and various high-end items. Exceptionally dedicated players may be able to earn enough EXP and credits to play completely for free, but if you'd like to be competitive and drive high-level tanks (which require ammo and repairs in addition to the initial purchase cost), you should probably plan on paying at least the $10 per month premium membership fee. You might also consider premium tanks, which cost around $5 to $10 apiece and begin at Elite Status, which means you don't need to complete tech trees for upgrades. Online message boards are alive with tips for saving money, such as playing with a lower-tiered and cheaper tank to earn the currency needed to maintain a more expensive one.
World of Tanks has a great premise, and it offers surprisingly deep gameplay for a free game. Those looking for fast-paced thrills won't find them, thanks to the slow-moving nature of World War II tanks, but those who enjoy battlefield tactics and RPG progression will find it to be worth a download—and maybe some "microtransactions."
CCC Freelance Writer