World of Tanks: Blitz ReviewPrice:
Free to Play
It's too hot and sunny to sit indoors playing computer games, so let's discuss a computer game you can play outdoors instead. I was somewhat sceptical upon hearing about World of Tanks: Blitz. Firstly because it takes a highly regarded PC game and adapts it for mobile devices, which last time we checked
works about as well as using a potted cactus for a shoehorn. Furthermore, Wargaming.net's last game, World of Warplanes
, felt distinctly lacking compared to the mighty World of Tanks.
Yet World of Warplanes didn't work because the arcade nature of Wargaming.net's titles stripped away too much of what makes aerial combat interesting, while Dungeon Keeper failed because its sole concern was torturing as much money out of its players as possible rather than finding the best way to rework the game for mobile. Blitz avoids both of these potential pitfalls, and is an unlikely but nonetheless rather splendid game for your pocket twitter-checking machine.
Structurally, Blitz is very similar to the PC version of World of Tanks. Fourteen players divided into two teams battle it out in an armoured game of king of the hill. Victory is achieved either by capturing and holding a point at the centre of the map, or by simply obliterating all the other tanks on the opposing team. Destroying enemy tanks and winning matches earns you experience points and in-game currency, which you can use to research better tanks or upgrade your current one.
If you so choose, you can pay real money for these upgrades, but you're not obliged to, and there are no underhand tactics like forcing you to wait for projects to be completed unless you pay to resolve them. Blitz uses the same F2P model as all of Wargaming's other titles, providing an abundance of purchasable tanks and upgrades, and featuring several tiers of experience progress depending on whether you play for free or chuck a few of your hard-earned squids at your monitor. My only gripe is it pesters you about upgrading to a "premium account" every time the game is launched. Stop it, Blitz, I'll be ready for that in my own time.
Regarding the game itself, it's surprising how well World of Tanks suits mobile, and a lot of it comes down to how the tanks work. These lumbering machines take time to move, aim and fire, which is actually ideal for playing a shooter on a small screen with imprecise controls. It doesn't require you to react with lightning reflexes like games such as Counter Strike or Tribes: Ascend do. It deliberately plays at a slower, more thoughtful pace, which is a very good thing.
This isn't to say Blitz' theme compensates for poor controls. Wargaming have clearly thought about this as well. You move the tanks by manipulating a virtual analogue stick using your left thumb, and control the camera, turret, and firing with your right. It's responsive and easy to learn, although the controls inevitably sacrifice a certain amount of screen space, which on a phone is already fairly limited. For the most part, however, it navigates the delicate balance of being able to see the game and being able to control it well enough.