Turn-based strategy can still work in quite interesting ways as games like Advance Wars and Civilization have shown. Well, War of the Human Tanks is a worthy attempt at being one of those shining examples. When I was told that War of the Human Tanks seemed a lot like Advance Wars, I was intrigued. It’s partially because I loved the Advance Wars games and thought this could turn out well. That being said, while this game doesn’t live up to similar games in the genre, it’s actually fairly decent.
The story for War of the Human Tanks is pretty simplistic. However, I love the fact that it tried to have a story, because I’m a story junkie. Now, when I say simplistic, this doesn’t mean bad, especially since it’s a story-driven game covering the topic of war. Sometimes a little simplicity in a story can be worthwhile, especially when you’re dealing with a topic that kind of covers multiple topics at the same time.
Basically, you start off in the middle of a story already in action. The Empire of Japon is losing ground and power to the Kingdom of Japon. Yes, that means you’re in the middle of a conflict between a king and emperor fighting for control over the same country. Things are getting desperate and the Royal army draws ever closer to the Imperial capital. Your unit, the Imperial 4th Armored Corp is activated to try to stem the tide of the advancing enemy and possibly force them back, even though the civilian population reacts with indifference toward whoever wins.
Once more into the breach
There’s good and average things about War of the Human Tanks. To start off with the good, the visual style, especially within the visual novel-style narrative cutscenes, is really well done. It gives you a feeling for the area you’re looking at, though scenes that technically take place on the battlefield could stand to be handled better. It could have presented some wreckage or bodies to at least give the illusion of battle rather than showing a fairly serene background that might shake with shots or explosions. Still, even with that gripe, the look of the game is great. It can also be pretty challenging, which is great. The game also has remarkably high replay value due to a story that branches and adapts to your decisions, successes, failures, losses and gains.
The average elements are the gameplay, story depth and battle maps. For one thing, the battle maps are pretty lackluster. They’re merely functional set pieces that give no real sense of scope. Once you factor in the fact that you’re not given a really clear view of the map. If you don’t recon properly, you can easily lose the majority of your troops on the field. It’s like a really awkward version of Battleship (the board game), especially since you’re playing against moving enemies. In fact, you can still run into that exact issue, especially early on in the game. The development factor of the human tanks can also be a better executed mechanic of the game.
The most average thing though is the story. It’s mostly because of the fact that it is a pretty good and competently told story that can change based on your successes and failures. However, the story has no real depth or subtlety and all of the possible branches are pretty formulaic. Even just a little depth or subtlety would’ve made the story far better than it is. It would’ve made it consistently good instead of merely average.
While War of the Human Tanks is not quite what I was hoping for, it is something that left me feeling pretty good for playing it. If you play this thinking that it would be as good as one of the Advance War games, you’ll likely be at least a little disappointed. But if you play it based on the game’s own merits, you’ll be pretty happy with your decision. Even with the average aspects of the game, you’re getting a lot of value for the $10-12 price tag, especially when you factor in the replay value.