Wednesday, 17 April 2013

War Thunder - World of Tanks...In the air!


There is no doubt World of Tanks gets stale. Every so often the developers spruce up the game by bringing out a new line of tanks and maybe - rarely - a new map, but the format has been flogged to death by my friends and I. In fact, this Friday's 'Game Day' will in all likelihood be my final appearance in this game (famous last words, I know)!

What is annoying is that the developers themselves foresaw the limitations of WoT and so took steps to develop new games - albeit using the same lucrative 'Pay to Play' system as WoT - and came up with the very exciting 'World of Warlanes' and 'World of Warships'. Hoo-rah I thought, timely replacements to World of Tanks - but then time passed and nothing transpired and a year or so on only Warplanes has reached 'Closed Beta'.

Well I came across 'War Thunder' last week and to be honest it just seemed to be a straight copy of 'World of Warplanes', but as War Thunder was actually up and working (although officially an Open Beta) I thought I would give it a spin.

Tanks, but in 3 dimensions!
When I fits opened up the game I did chuckle, the first screen that meets you is an almost exact copy of WoT's tank garage idea - but a hanger of course - so straight away you are on familiar ground...

The War Thunder Hanger, with a beautiful Hawker Fury inside.

Now I have not yet looked into War Thunder's 'Pay to Play' or 'Premium' features yet so I don't know if like WoT you get a more refined home screen if you subscribe, but there will be perks and extra customization benefits if you do decide to fork out real cash. But at the moment I am only interested in what you get for free!

At this point you can, like World of Tanks, decide what nation you prefer to play and which of the initial basic aircraft you want to fly. There are five nations; America, Germany, Soviet Union, Britain and Japan, and each has it's own pre-WW2 era fighter.

From here you can enter the game itself by clicking on the 'To Battle!' button, but then things get a little complected...

In the cue to play...Yawn!

There seems to be a long wait to play the game and you are shoved into a cue. I had to wait nearly two minutes to finally get into a server/map, but the above screen does give you an indication of how long your wait might be and compares it to other choices in aircraft so you can change to something that might get you in faster if you prefer.

I am hoping this might just be because this is a BETA and that waiting times will be markedly quicker in the full release version.

Anyway, when you do get in you are first shown the 'briefing' screen with a map to give you your objectives - in my case I was to protect and capture airfields on an island. Now don't ask me how that works yet - I have no idea...I just wanted to dogfight (I will work out the intricacies of the game later)!

Nice graphics which display the opening scene of my first game. Here I
fly above 'our' airfield and look over at what is now the enemy airfield. The
red dots are the incoming attackers, I picked out a likely target!

At this stage the idea seems simple - shoot down the bad guys in red! But how easy is that?

Well, flight controls and nice and simple (there is a basic flight tutorial) and I managed fine with keyboard and mouse, but there are - of course - more advanced settings for those who have the appropriate flight sticks and I am sure there will be advantages for using the correct control gear.

Before long I was in the midst of a dogfight - my first potential victim being what I thought might be easy meat, a Swordfish torpedo bomber - but here is where I found that the flight system, even on arcade, is nicely thought out. You can plack out in high G turns, overshoot if you come in too fast, and you ALWAYS have to be watching your six.

I immediately fell for that basic 'newbie' flight combat error of 'target fixation' - I was so honed in on bringing down my target that I did not see the enemy fighter slip in behind me! Before I knew it I was crashing in a flaming ball into the sea!

I thought I had him...I did not see his friend swoop down behind me though!

Indeed, the golden rules for air combat are as they have always been, height and speed are important, checking your 'six' continually is a must, and - in my case - getting drawn down into low level chases is a bad idea (because then the enemy have the height advantage).

All in all though I enjoyed this first brief outing, I can see this game has a lot of potential. The aircraft are wonderfully modeled - not high-end flight-sim perhaps but very attractive - and the gameplay is fast and easy to get into (though I will need to read the winning conditions). I especially love the period biplanes and would be quite happy to spend my time playing these antiquated crates rather than grinding my way towards the sleeker - and probably costly - high performance aircraft.

Link to the War Thunder web site


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