Tank Ranger is a new tank-themed lobby-based game, hoping to ride on the success of World of Tanks. It is brought to us by Olive Games, and this is the first title I have seen from them. The premise of the game is simple enough – you join a game, choose a tank, and then blast away at your enemies. The game seems to be much more casual than World of Tanks, and is your typical lobby-based shooter experience. But with tanks. YAY.
To be honest, customization seems heavily restricted. The most prominent form it appears in is skins and paint for the tanks. You can get a red camo tank, or something like pitch black. Other than that, there really isn't anything else to do in terms of customization. A few years ago I would not have blinked an eye at this, but it has become an industry standard to push as much customization as possible on your players – even in a shooter-type game like this.
I was a bit in awe when I first began to mess with the graphics settings in Tank Ranger. I wish I could say this was a good kind of awe, but it wasn't. I literally gaped when I found out that the maximum resolution supported is 1400x900. At first I shrugged and hopefully thought that perhaps the game is meant to be played in window mode. It would explain the low resolution support. Once I found out that the game does not (currently) support the ability to play in windowed mode, I almost gave up on the spot.
Because of the low resolution and the lack of windowed mode, Tank Ranger has some pretty bad graphics. Similar to what I would expect to find in a decade-old FPS. Normally I do not put too much weight in graphics quality when I play a game, but when I'm playing a game like this that only has simple “kill the enemy” type gameplay I cannot be as forgiving. However, I toughed it out and continued reviewing the game.
Controls in Tank Ranger are simple enough to learn. WASD movement, right click to zoom and left click to shoot. You can press shift to make use of the “drift” feature – which really isn't a drift as far as I could tell, just a sharp turn. For the most part the controls were smooth and quite responsive. Overall I was pleased with how well the controls worked.
This is the sad part of the review. In my time trying to review the game, I could only find one person playing the game besides myself. Even after logging on multiple times a day for several days. So far he has been my only contact with the community of Tank Ranger players. I am thinking, based on a few guesses, that a majority of the players may not be based in North America. So, the already small community probably wasn't likely to be present during my waking hours. In short, the community is small – you could almost say it doesn't exist.
Take your average 2006-or-later FPS and then add in tanks instead of people. That is Tank Ranger. You join a lobby and then choose a game. You will be put head-to-head against enemy players – or enemy AI if not enough enemy players are present. There really isn't much diversity in the games tank selection yet. As far as I can see, you are stuck with five different tanks that each fill certain archetypes.
There is a tank for up-close and mid-range fighting that has decent protection. Also available is a tank that is great for long-ranged fighting, but can quickly be dispatched if an enemy gets close to it. Then there is a very weak tank with a machine gun that is extremely fast compared to the other choices – more of an APC than a tank. As I said, right now there are only these three options available, but I imagine more will be coming out later on.
The combat is very arcade-ish. More so than similar games such as World of Tanks. As far as I could tell through my time playing, there is no individual damaging of components such as treads or gas tanks. Essentially, you just have to hit an enemy three-to-four times anywhere on the tank and then it will explode. I'm not a very big fan of this, but I know there are people out there that will appreciate this.
The game does offer tank upgrades, such as extra weapons or speed boost, which can add variety and uniqueness to your tactics. A lot of people worry about pay-to-win cash shops. From what I see, Tank Rangers has a pretty fair cash shop as almost everything available can be bought with the in-game currency you gain from playing, as well as the cash shop money. The only things I saw that could not be bought with game points were convenience items such as experience boost. I did notice that the cash shop does have a lot of seemingly over-powered upgrades that will require you to use the cash shop if you want to stay on top.
There are five gamemodes covering the traditional modes you will find in most lobby-based games. Eight maps have been released so far to play these gamemodes on. The only gamemode I was actually able to find people playing is the AI-versus mode. And while they had good aim, the AI weren't very bright and would just follow predictable paths. Using the fact that hiding behind a building very quickly will stop all damage from hitting you, camping the AI is an easy way to advance. I really wish there were more people playing this game as it would have been a lot more fun.
In short, Tank Ranger is an MMO with a tank theme which is quite shallow in the gameplay area. There is no depth to it. However, we shouldn't mistake this as a negative thing right off the bat. I know there are people out there that will like that you can just log in, pick a tank, and then go head-to-head with other players. As long as the developers can add a bit more content and improve the graphics options, this should make for a decent gaming experience. For now, however, I was disappointed with what I saw.