Mobile gaming has come a long way in a very short space of time. Only 4-5 years ago, I was in an English lesson playing Bluetooth Tank Wars across the classroom with a friend. Bluetooth Tank Wars was a simple game, wherein you would drag the school screen to move your tank in a top down perspective, and try to shoot your opponent; the graphics were poor and the controls were simple but didn’t feel at all natural. Now, just a few years later, Tank Domination has arrived. Essentially, it’s the same game as Bluetooth Tank Wars, but it has full 3D graphics, destructible environments, online multiplayer and 30 different tanks.
One of the most striking elements of Tank Domination is the graphics. The tanks themselves are all very detailed, and it is easy to tell the difference between the various types on the battlefield. Environmental items such as trees are less detailed, but are still recognizable and reasonably realistic.
Playing Tank Domination involves going online to battle it out with other players. The online implementation is seamless: with a press of one button on the main screen you will be put into a lobby and will be playing, usually, within 60 seconds. Matches generally last for around three to five minutes, as a team is victorious when all the enemy tanks have been destroyed, or if the enemy base is captured (although no one ever seems to manage to capture the base).
The maps have a lot of variety, ranging from massive open deserts to tight, enclosed car parks. There are three different map locations, Iraq, Korea and Arizona. Each of the three locations has multiple different areas, but some feel very similar and many of the maps feature the exact same buildings and other environmental items. Many of these are destructible, but all this really means is that you can knock trees over and smash barriers or fences to the ground, where they disappear into thin air.
Controlling the tank is not particularly easy. Movement is made possible by way of a virtual joystick on the left of the screen, and controlling the turret is done with a virtual joystick on the right, while you fire shells by pressing a virtual button above it. The positioning of the fire button is a strange choice, as it’s too easy to accidentally move the turret instead of firing. Lining up the perfect shot is also not particularly easy because of how difficult it can be to move the turret into a precise position.
As you would expect in any mobile free to play game, there are a lot of items you can unlock. There are 30 tanks, all of which have multiple upgrades available, numerous types of ammo and power ups. These items can be purchased with two different types of currency, both of which you can earn in game or buy via in-app purchases. At the start of the game you are given a generous dose of both currencies that will allow you to buy anything you want, but when you’ve play for a few more hours the currency dries up, and you are left with two choices: you can grind for hours or you can buy enough to get you the next tank. The prices are not unreasonable, but some tanks will cost a pretty penny.
Once you have purchased all your upgrades you will have to navigate the cluttered and confusing main screen that features a number of buttons and pieces of information. When you first start up the game, a stereotypical US army general barks information at you explaining what some buttons do, but there are still a lot that seem to do nothing or very little. Luckily, getting into a match is quite easy.
VERDICT: Tank Domination is a solid game that can be great fun. It is somewhat hampered by the difficult controls but by no means is it unplayable; it just takes a lot of time to learn the systems. The maps could do with a little work but are still quite impressive for a mobile title; the destructible elements, however, are a bit disappointing. Fortunately, buying currency isn’t a necessity, although anyone who puts a lot of hours into the game will probably end up spending a bit of money.
Perhaps Tank Domination’s biggest victory is its seamless online multiplayer, which is one of the best real-time multiplayer systems I have seen on iOS. It only requires a single button press to get into a game and you will usually be playing within a minute. Once you get into a game there is a lot of fun to be had, but there isn’t much incentive to keep playing.
DECENT. A 6/10 indicates that, while this game could be much better, it still has a fair amount to offer the player. It might be an interesting title sabotaged by its own ambition, or a game denied greater praise by some questionable design choices. Don’t avoid it outright, but approach it with caution.