GrogHeads Reviews Tank Battle: Pacific

“Why fix something that’s not broken?”

Michael Eckenfels, 7 February 2016

A classic question, to be sure; as a statement, it could very well be the motto of Hunted Cow/Hexwar when it comes to these Tank Battle games. I’ve reviewed several of their games before, and done an AAR on one of their games, and all coming to similar conclusions: all of the games play the same, and they’re just in a different wrapper. Does that make them not fun to play, though?

 

TBP-Title_Screen

ABOUT THE GAME

Tank Battle: Pacific is all about, just as the name says, tank battles in the Pacific theater during World War II. The player controls either the Japanese or Allied side. Each Campaign is different, and from what I’ve seen of it, it does not allow you to play both sides in a Campaign, but different Campaigns let you play different sides. Further, each Campaign is made up of several scenarios. The game says there are 15 included scenarios for the base game, which is true…if you count the tutorials.

The game is single-player only; there is no multiplayer component to it.

Six Campaigns are included, but the last three (Empire, Commonwealth, and Red Bear) are all in-app purchases.

Six Campaigns are included, but the last three (Empire, Commonwealth, and Red Bear) are all in-app purchases.

In fact, eight of the scenarios out of those 15 included are tutorial scenarios. More than half of them are tutorials, placed in a ‘First Strike’ Campaign wrapper. That’s kind of a downer, especially when the three other Campaigns are very short by comparison. The other Campaigns are ‘Bonus’ (a one-scenario Campaign where you control the Japanese as they assault a Chinese strongpoint, made up of lots of defenses), ‘Rising Sun’ (with three scenarios, where you play the Japanese against the French in the first one, the Chinese in the second, and the Americans in the third scenario), and ‘Eclipse!’ (where you control the U.S. against the Japanese in three scenarios).

That’s not to say the scenarios outside of the tutorial are boring…there’s just not a lot of them compared to the tutorials. And counting tutorials as a ‘scenario’ is stretching things quite a bit, especially as several of the tutorials take only minutes to complete. I really enjoyed all of the scenarios, but I of course enjoyed the ones with more ‘meat’ on their bones than I did the simpler, quicker tutorials (especially as I’ve already played so many of their games and know them well enough that I don’t need the tutorial at all).

The other three Campaigns – ‘Empire’ (you play the Japanese against the U.K.), ‘Commonwealth’ (where you play the U.K. against the Japanese), and ‘Red Bear’ (where you play the Soviets against the Japanese) are in-app purchases. I generally do not like these, because when I buy a game, I want THE game, not a sprinkling of it that is engineered in such a manner to milk me of more money. I despise that tactic. But to be fair, it’s the way of things these days, it seems. And, their added Campaigns aren’t all that expensive (they’re ninety-nine cents each).

It’s like crack. You’ll probably buy more.

It’s like crack. You’ll probably buy more.

Speaking of the tutorials, they’re all scripted and unless you really try to screw them up on purpose, you cannot lose them. While it still is difficult to accept them as full-blown scenarios, they’re great for newcomers to wargames…in fact, any game from these developers would be a great segue into the world of hex wargaming.

Plenty of chances to learn the game system.

Plenty of chances to learn the game system.

 

While the title says ‘Tank Battle,’ there’s plenty of other units too, including infantry, artillery, and air strikes, so there is a balance of forces present. Tanks, however, play heavily in most of the game and are an important part to any of the scenarios, as long as they are used appropriately. The ‘rock-paper-scissors’ approach of combat seems to apply here too, as some tanks are good against certain targets, but not others; same with infantry, as well as artillery, and just about every other unit type. Finding the right combination of forces to inflict the most lethal strikes on the enemy is an adventure of trial-and-error, but it’s not a long journey, nor an unpleasant one.

 

In the Eclipse campaign, you play as the U.S. against the Japanese, in the final stages of the war.

In the Eclipse campaign, you play as the U.S. against the Japanese, in the final stages of the war.

 

This Campaign is made up of three scenarios, all of which are a blast to play.

This Campaign is made up of three scenarios, all of which are a blast to play.

 

GAMEPLAY

The game is at heart, a simple wargame with just enough depth to be good for a veteran player, and just enough introduction for new players. It’s definitely light wargaming, but I’ve never had trouble with boredom with any of the titles in this series, or other similar games.

 

From the Chinese campaign (Bonus). There are eight scenarios in this Campaign, and a total of 15 scenarios in the game (without including the in-app purchases).

From the Chinese campaign (Bonus). There are eight scenarios in this Campaign, and a total of 15 scenarios in the game (without including the in-app purchases).

 

The units are controlled by tapping on one. Once selected, a range of movement hexes is displayed as an overlay, giving you at a glance where it can move in the current turn. Any enemy units that can be fired on are highlighted in red. Tapping on an enemy unit fires on them, and if the attack hits, casualties are removed. Each unit is rated up to a ‘strength’ of 10, and when reduced to zero, it is eliminated. Unit firepower is weakened as units are reduced in strength, and unit losses are sometimes tied into a scenario’s success or failure. Constantly charging into well-defended enemy units is an exercise in futility most of the time, but judicious use of airpower, artillery, and armored support can make an infantry assault successful.

 

Expectations are clearly stated at the start of each scenario. Unit management is important if you don’t want to lose too many troops.

Expectations are clearly stated at the start of each scenario. Unit management is important if you don’t want to lose too many troops.

 

Attacking Saipan. This screenshot is from the app store.

Attacking Saipan. This screenshot is from the app store.

 

While the games aren’t very realistic, they’re a lot of fun to play. There’s just enough historical flavor added to each one to make it intriguing for a die-hard gamer such as myself, and goodness knows a newbie to wargaming might learn something historical to boot from the scenario introductions.

 

A short summary gives you some perspective on the upcoming battle.

A short summary gives you some perspective on the upcoming battle.

 

Every so often you’ll get an airstrike, which can cause grievous damage to an enemy unit.

Every so often you’ll get an airstrike, which can cause grievous damage to an enemy unit.

 

You don’t get to ‘buy’ forces, nor do you get to keep them from scenario to scenario, much less Campaign to Campaign. Units do not gain experience, but are rather rated according to their level, of which there are four – Raw, Average, Veteran, and Elite, and are marked accordingly on the map with icons to indicate this level.

 

Assaulting Japan – note the chevrons, because they indicate the unit’s experience level. This is one of the more challenging scenarios, with tons of minefields and Japanese bunkers to overcome. This screenshot is from the app store.

Assaulting Japan – note the chevrons, because they indicate the unit’s experience level. This is one of the more challenging scenarios, with tons of minefields and Japanese bunkers to overcome. This screenshot is from the app store.

 

You can get a high-level view of your game, too, though you need to zoom in to play. This screenshot is from the app store.

You can get a high-level view of your game, too, though you need to zoom in to play. This screenshot is from the app store.

 

Overall, you’re not getting something ground-breaking or new, here. If you’re already a fan of previous Tank Battle games, or similar games from other periods, you’ll enjoy this title and be able to dive right in. It’s light, it’s simple, and it’s a quick distraction to play through a scenario or two without taking a huge commitment of time or effort to get into. It’s very easy to get into, so you’re not going to have to worry about forgetting how to play.

I’ve enjoyed these games, and will probably continue to do so as long as the ‘wrapper’ they put it in is interesting to me. I like the Pacific theater from a gaming/simulation standpoint, and there seems to be too few of them out there. This helps scratch the itch, if you’re looking for something simple, cheap, and easy to play.

 


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