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There’s no denying the popularity of the free-to-play gung-ho battle sim World of Tanks, but the franchise has yet to make it onto iOS. That’ll soon be changing with the arrival of World of Tanks Blitz, and so for now we’ll have to make do with Battle Supremacy ($4.99) instead.
Developed by the same studio that brought us the Sky Gamblers flight simulators, Battle Supremacy is an all-round World War II fighting game with an emphasis on tank warfare. Players are also invited to fly planes, drive trucks and sail ships, which all sounds very fun indeed – but is it?
An Open World Battle Sim
I’m going to say it: there’s a good chance Atypical Games launched Battle Supremacy when they did in a bid to beat World of Tanks Blitz to the App Store. It’s no secret that Blitz is coming, and it’s well within Atypical’s capability to come up with another war-based combat simulation based specifically on tank warfare.
There’s nothing wrong with this, but it’s hard to deny that it’s thanks to World of Tanks (and partly Battlefield) that we’re so drawn to track-mounted artillery these days. And unlike many similar mobile actions games which use small individual levels, Battle Supremacy takes an open world approach.
Different missions use different areas of the same large map, and you’re likely to recognise villages and hills you’ve fought on before. This makes battles feel more open, and the huge amount of space affords you several different approaches to the same scenario.
The single player game is dominated by a campaign in one of the three theatres of war: the Pacific, France and Russia. Each theatre features four levels of varying difficulty, with optional bonus levels to unlock as well. Much of the game involves rolling through small villages in tanks, taking pot shots at enemy artillery while trying to avoid too much incoming fire.
It’s the tank warfare that is arguably the main draw here, and it by far feels the most complete aspect of the game. Controls use a touch-anywhere D-pad on the left of the screen, while dragging aims the turret. On the iPad it’s a little difficult to roll forward, aim and then shoot as well (adding zoom to the equation further confuses things), so I can’t imagine it’s much more fun on the smaller screen.
Rolling around in a tank is a very satisfying experience, despite the number of fingers you’ll need to use to stand with the best of them.
Pretty But Flawed
Graphically this is a very impressive game, all things considered. While the action chugs occasionally (close-up particle effects are a struggle), the game is a visual treat provided you don’t look too closely. Theatres of war are lush, softly lit and feature destructible trees, villages and (very much non-destructible) operational trains.
Unfortunately the experience is let down a little by some disappointing details. For example, destroying an enemy tank results in the model dropping through the ground and out of sight – and the same thing happens to your own tank too. The soundtrack is your average brass-driven Battlefield fare, and it repeats ad nauseum, so you will probably need to turn that off.
And that’s not all. While it’s a lot of fun flying around in a plane, shooting down fighters and dive-bombing battleships, it’s not actually possible to crash your plane. The developers have gotten around this by providing “optional” flight levels (and you can Free Roam if you like), but with no risk of crashing there’s little “thrill” involved in pulling up at the last second.
Tank combat does at least feel quite satisfying, and that’s arguably the bread and butter here. I just can’t help but feel that the whole experience is more than a little unfinished.
World of Tanks is a multiplayer game, and a free one to boot. There are all sorts of pay-to-win optional purchases, which presents the game on a slightly uneven playing field. If you can afford it, you can have the upper hand. Not so in Battle Supremacy, once you’ve paid your money you can work away at unlocking the same kit as everyone else.
Whereas the single player game features a range of game types commonly found in online shooters, including King of the Hill, Capture the Base and Free for All; the multiplayer element is currently solely team deathmatch. Presumably a full multiplayer overhaul is going to add these modes to online play, which are nowhere near as fun as they could be in single player mode.
For now we have to make do with turbo-matchmakng and team deathmatch, which is still rather a lot of fun. While I’d love to be able to specify a game type, tapping the multiplayer button will drop you into a game in literally seconds, every time. That makes it one of the fastest pick-up-and-play multiplayer experiences on any platform, let alone iOS.
Fragging real people is fun, considerably more so than blowing up AI tanks in single player. You can upgrade your tank using credits that you earn in both single and online modes, which adds a sense of progress to the title. The open world works in the battle’s favour, providing plenty of space in which to fight.
It’s very likely that the multiplayer just wasn’t finished in time for release. Atypical are lucky that online team deathmatch just so happens to be a blast, even in this unfinished state.
Should You Buy It?
At $4.99, Battle Supremacy manages to clearly differentiate itself from World of Tanks. This isn’t a freemium title, there are no in-app purchases (at this stage) nor are there pay-to-win weapons. Normally I’d be singing these praises, but it’s hard to deny that Battle Supremacy feels a little unfinished in more than one area.
It’s lucky then that there’s still plenty of fun to be had here, and the promise of improvements over time is an exciting one. If you’re willing to forgive the game’s current state of completion, you’ll get plenty of kicks from Battle Supremacy now and into the future.
Download: Battle Supremacy ($4.99)
Have you played Atypical’s latest battle sim? What do you think? Looking forward to World of Tanks a whole lot more?