Game Review: Table Top Tanks (PS Vita)

Table Top Tanks PS Vita

Table Top Tanks is an augmented reality (AR) game available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS Vita. The game sees you thrust into tank warfare against A.I. controlled opponents across a variety of single player missions.

In regards to graphics the game holds up well, but for a console as powerful as the PS Vita, I was hoping for it to look and play as good as the video sequence does, but it doesn’t quite hit that standard. The graphics are good with a consistent frame rate even when there are multiple tanks and turrets firing at you and air strikes, which is obviously a huge plus point in a game that can become as lively as this. There are various power-ups too, such as an air strike that is capable of taking all of your enemies out with a swipe across the Vita’s touch screen and bouncy rockets that allow your rocket fire to bounce off various obstacles, so you can fire from an area of the map where you are out of reach and out of sight and still hit your enemies, which certainly adds an element of strategy to the game.

The game provides you with three game modes including: solo challenges, solo creator and multiplayer. The solo challenges game mode consists of fifteen single player missions with increasing difficulty as there are progressively more A.I controlled opposing tanks and artillery, although there are no separate difficulty settings. The single player challenges range from practice missions such as reaching five waypoints in under a minute in the opening mission “Little Maze Run” and destroying all of the bullseye targets in the second mission “Target Practice” to real missions against A.I. controlled tanks and artillery such as reaching all six of the waypoints while evading enemies within four minutes in the twelfth mission “Ambush Alley” and destroying all of the enemy tanks within five minutes in the final mission “Last Tank Standing”. The solo creator mode allows you to create your own arenas with objects and if you are having trouble understanding it, there is a rather helpful tutorial that covers everything you need to know and should get you up to speed with how to use this feature in no time at all.

The multiplayer mode offers three variants of gameplay including: capture the flag, last man standing and two vs. two, which are all standard multiplayer modes. Capture the flag allows you to set anywhere between one and ten flags, while last man standing and two vs. two allows you to set anywhere between one and ten lives to determine the winner with four sets of arenas available to battle it out in including: small, medium, large and pre-set arenas. Outside of the game modes; there are limited customisation options that consist of ten available colours to change the look of your tank with additional colours available via the Toy Tanks pack available for download on the PlayStation Store for £0.79.

The controls are simple and work well with the left stick used to steer the tank and the right stick used to aim the tank’s turret, while L fires the machine gun and R fires rockets with the Vita’s motion sensor functionality used to move the positioning of the camera angle as the tank is moving and the touch screen is used to order an air strike.

Table Top Tanks requires three AR cards to be simultaneously positioned directly underneath the Vita. The AR cards can be located anywhere you want them to be enabling you to position the battleground outside in your front garden or in your living room with the only restrictions being that the AR cards have to be placed on a flat surface and they have to be used in a well lit environment. I found that playing the game sitting in the middle of my living room with a lamp switched on only a few feet away from me did not actually provide enough light to play the game at night and even playing the game at sunset did not provide enough light for the camera to pick up the AR cards, so make sure you have the lighting just right or the syncing process of the AR cards will frustrate you and reduce the amount of time you have to actually play the game. I believe that this problem is brought about by Table Top Tanks’ insistence that you have to sync the three AR cards in a spread out V formation with card 01 in the centre at the bottom with card 02 on the upper left and card 03 on the upper right resulting in difficulty syncing your AR cards if the light of the environment that you are playing in isn’t directed across all three AR cards.

The audio consists of the kind of military music that you would expect from a game that is centred around tanks. The sound during gameplay is pretty good, as the tank tracks can be heard, as can the machine guns from tanks and enemy artillery along with rockets and air strikes, which all add to the atmosphere of the game and the intensity of combat.

The trophy list includes seven trophies with two bronze, three silver and two gold trophies. The trophy list starts out easy with six out of the seven trophies obtainable within an hour or two. The only sticking point is that one of the seven trophies (War Room Owner) requires you to win five multiplayer games via ad-hoc multiplayer, which makes this a tough trophy list to 100%, but if you have the luxury of owning two PlayStation Vita consoles or knowing someone that lives nearby that owns a Vita and the game, then it would make it considerably easier to 100% the trophy list. This seems to be a recurring problem with AR games as the Table Ice Hockey trophy list also suffered the same fate.

As is also the case with Table Ice Hockey; the online multiplayer is limited to ad-hoc only, which is a disappointment as if you don’t own two PlayStation Vita consoles or know someone else that lives nearby who owns a Vita, then you may find it difficult to even get into a multiplayer game, due to the limited range of one hundred feet or less between your Vita and the opponents’ Vita. Therefore, I have never actually played the ad-hoc multiplayer, which means I am unable to comment upon the performance of the game in this mode.

Table Top Tanks is a fun AR game, but due to a lack of online multiplayer and leaderboards the replayability becomes distinctly questionable. It will take you about an hour to clear through all of the fifteen single player missions and after that the only feature that will bring you back is the solo creator mode, unless you have someone to play ad-hoc multiplayer against.

Overall, the lack of online multiplayer and leaderboards holds Table Top Tanks back from fulfilling its potential. However, it is important to remember that this game only costs £1.59 and at that price you can’t complain about what you receive from the purchase. The solo creator mode may just about be enough to keep you coming back and experimenting with creative arena designs and provides a good use for AR.

Jason Bonnar

At A Glance

  • Title: Table Top Tanks
  • Publisher: Devil’s Details (XDev Studio Europe)
  • System: PS Vita
  • Format: PSN Download
  • Cross Buy: No
  • Cross Play: No
  • Online Multiplayer: Ad-Hoc only
  • PlayStation TV compatible: No
  • Memory Card Space Needed: 141Mb

 

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