I should start off here by saying that I’ve tested out a lot of networked games in my time online, and I think I would only recommend less than half of them. Usually it comes down to either game quality, or lack of participants. Sometimes it’s just the fact that even though the game is awesome and there are lots of people online all the time, the game is set up so that long-time players can just sit there and massacre newcomers. I hate that.
That’s actually the case with a lot of online, networked multiplayer games. Lifetime “gamers” take over those servers and their compadres all get together to steamroll pretty much anyone new that logs in. When you’re a somewhat experienced gamer – going up against a virtual SWAT-team of guys loaded up to the hilt, with nothing more than a stupid pea-shooter pistol or low-calibre rifle is not my idea of a good time. I might try my hand at overpowering them despite the handicap, but ultimately firepower always wins out in these games.
So, what’s this diatribe all about? The reason I mention my past experiences with online multiplayer games, is because this week I stumbled across a new tank battle game that surprised me with how refreshingly fair it is. That game is called NetPanzer.
Going From Newbie To Pro In One Session
I wanted to share my experience with you at NetPanzer, because it honestly surprised me a great deal. When I first started up the game, I was skeptical that it would hold my interest, and even more skeptical that it would warrant a review here at MakeUseOf.
Why was I skeptical? Well, when I first installed and ran the tank battle game, I wasn’t really that impressed by the main startup screen. It looks like something out of an early 90′s version of Command & Conquer.
I use that comparison intentionally. As you’ll see later, I compare it again to Command & Conquer, but in a good way. I was hooked on C&C for years, and through many generations of the game, so it doesn’t take long to see how this game is tailored for fans of that game genre.
To get started with a game, just click on the “Join” tab, type in the Player Name that you want, and then select a server from the list that looks like it has some good activity on it. The couple of times that I played over the weekend, I noticed that the NetPanzer.info server appears the be the main game server, and there are almost always folks active on the server.
Once I joined the game and the actual game map came up, I was quite a bit more impressed with the game. NetPanzer features pretty much the same soft of controls as Command & Conquer (and other games like it). You just draw a circle around your units (or select individual ones), and then click wherever you want them to travel to on the map.
You start out with a unit of about 15 or so tanks – some big and some small. As I was soon to discover, that starting unit would not provide much ability to navigate through the map without getting wiped out by one of the professional gamers on the server.
Yes, this is me getting slaughtered after moving within range of a massive tank unit guarding a base.
A base? Yes – I spotted a base and realized that somehow having a base is the heart of this game, and will allow you to survive. I didn’t take the time to review the controls before getting started – I thought it would be easy enough to figure out once in the game. But take my advice, take some time to review the commands for talking both publicly and to your allies, and more importantly, how to make allies.
The unit that massacred me the first time was a unit of huge tanks. I found out later, these are called Titans. You need to capture a base to build them.
Number one – I didn’t know how to capture a base, or any of this, until a fellow American in the game sent me a message asking where I was from and offering to become allies. He was “Big Bad Boy” from New Jersey, and he informed me that the secret to staying alive was sending a small tank quickly into a vacant base and placing it on the circular pad near the manufacturing building.
My mistake had been trying to approach a base that someone else was already using and protecting.
Big Bad Boy was nice enough to let me have one of the three bases he had captured. I raced my small tank to the circular pad and sure enough, clicking on the manufacturing building, I could now build one of three units. The two important ones, in my opinion, are the Titan and the Archer.
Titan is the massive tank, and Archer is a unit that can send missiles far beyond the range of any tank. The last unit is a fast scout, but few people use them unless they’re trying to bait other players into attacking – drawing units away from an area (some advice – don’t take the bait).
Once I was able to build up my army of 28 Titans and 4 Archers (everyone is only allowed 32 units), I was finally able to have some fun. One unit of about 20 tanks started attacking from the East, so I took 25 of my tanks and chased them down.
When Big Bad Boy saw me attacking, he sent me a private hint, “Use the Cntrl Key and click on an area to force-fire there while moving“. That was all it took. In under 60 seconds I had decimated the entire attacking unit. All of the other players online had been watching and thought it was a riot. “Ha! A Newb…yeah right!” one player joked. I had told them all that I was a total newb at these games.
It didn’t take long for a camaraderie to form. I told everyone I was working on a tech article and where they were from. I met people from France, Italy, Germany and Brazil. I was told lots of players on this particular game are from Brazil. It is a very cool, multinational game.
So – back to the tank battle game itself. The general screen layout is an overhead map of all bases to the lower left. You’ll see the player color for those bases, and the same color for their units in the field.
To talk with everyone, tap the [enter] key and type. To talk to your allies, press cntrl-A and type. To make allies, just find the player’s units on the map, select one of their tanks and press “Alt-A”. This will send an alliance request.
When you get your first base, you’ll see your player name at the upper left of the base, along with the unit you are currently producing and how much time is left to make the next unit. Titans are only about 15 seconds or so, but Archer’s are over a minute to build. That’s because their range is very far, and they wreak havoc from a distance.
When you learn the trick of using well place firing patterns with the Cntrl-click technique, you’ll find that you can destroy attacking tanks no matter where they try to move or how quickly they change direction. The trick is to predict what they’re going to do and place your firing pattern accordingly.
Do that before they’re able to do it to you, and you win. The battle sequences during all out attack are awesome – with flashes from the tank turrets and elaborate explosions and smoke when there’s a direct hit or when a tank is destroyed.
It’s a highly addictive game, the player community is low-key and mature – you’ll really enjoy the time spent here. Of course, if you end up staying up all night because of your tank warfare addiction – I absolve myself of all responsibility. Consider yourself fairly warned.
Do you like tank battle games? How do you like NetPanzer? Are there others that you’d recommend as well? Share your thoughts and insights in the comments section below.
Image Credit: European Battle Tank via Shutterstock
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