Whilst Valve’s offerings of Dota 2 and Team Fortress 2 may be the poster-children for free-to-play online multiplayer PC games thanks to their immense popularity in the United States, one of the biggest names on the European scene is World of Tanks — and it’s clear that Tank Domination cribs a lot of its ideas from that title. Being a mobile game, the experience is streamlined somewhat, but only enough to make it possible to pick up and play a quick match whenever it suits.
The overall flow of the game will be completely unsurprising to anyone who has played a Call of Duty title in the past few years — you’re placed in team deathmatches, the outcome of which gives you currency to spend on upgrades for your tank as well as experience points that help you rank up and master various bits of kit. It’s standard stuff, but it’s nicely balanced to give you a constant feeling of progression — even if sometimes it’s a little bit easy to lose track of what exactly you’re mastering at any one time.
However, it’s the core gameplay that makes the progression systems around it shine. If the idea of team deathmatch on your iPad is giving you visions of trying to control Unreal Tournament with digital controls, then fear not — Tank Domination plays to the strengths of the device. Given the conceit that tanks are, traditionally, not the most nimble of vehicles, the occasional bit of grappling with controls is easily forgiven — and in fact you’re moving at such a slow pace most of the time that it’s very easy to keep in full control no matter how comfortable you are with virtual sticks.
Once you’re used to the way your tank moves, the game is a relatively simple proposition; your targeting reticule follows the way you’re looking, but as it’s meant to be manned by another crew-member it follows quite slowly (depending on what upgrades you have). This is crucial to the way that the gameplay works — it’s all a matter of superior positioning of your tank relative to your team-mates and your opposition. One spawn is all you get per match, so there’s no real advantage to storming in by yourself. It’s surprisingly thoughtful stuff and it’s absolutely ideal for the platform, given that twitch reactions and smoothly navigating 3D environments aren’t exactly the strong points of iOS.
That said, there are some niggling details that detract somewhat from the experience as a whole, but most of them are related to production values. One of the things that Tank Domination cribs from Call of Duty is the bizarre decision to use Bank Gothic as a stock font for just about everything you’ll look at in-game. Similarly irritating is the voice-acting during the tutorial, which is decidedly low-rent and really quite unnecessary. These are niggles with the window dressing though, and you can tell that the developers instead elected to put the bulk of their time into the nuts and bolts of the gameplay — and it paid off handsomely.