I had heard of Gratuitous Space Battles, even got it in a bundle a while back, but it sat in my Steam collection unplayed for quite a while. When Gratuitous Tank Battles came out, I didn’t really blink, it didn’t look that impressive and I figured it would be the same thing just with tanks. Boy was I wrong.
The genre of tower defense seems to be overdone and fraught with games that don’t introduce much of anything new. These vanilla ice cream cones of games just repeat the same boring formula, occasionally throwing some chocolate sprinkles on top (Jimmies if you’re from New Jersey) and honestly I just can’t get excited about the thirteenth slightly different tower defense game that someone put out. Well if those games are vanilla cones, Gratuitous Tank Battles is that ridiculous seven scoop sundae that is slathered in chocolate sauce covered in whip cream and has half a pound of walnuts on it that five spoonfuls in makes you fall over with instant type two diabetes. Gratuitous Tank Battles is the tower defense game you order when you’re not messing around and you’re looking to play a REAL tower defense game that someone put an amazing level of thought and work into. Here’s what I like about it.
First you get both types of tower defense, some call the second type reverse tower defense where you control the units spawning and run them through enemy controlled towers. In GTB this manifests itself as the ability to attack or defend on a map. The campaign mode has a several maps you can go through, and you can choose what units the enemy AI will have access to when you play. Here’s where it gets good, you see each stock unit is nice sure, but wouldn’t you like to tweak your units a bit? There’s a massive unit editor that allows you to change all of the stats on a unit, rename it, and save it as your new killer unit. Even better, as you progress through the campaign you unlock new weapons, armor, targeting scopes, shields, and support items to help build better units for you to use throughout the game. Did you finish the campaign? That fast huh? Well how about you go make your own maps, then. There’s a map editor that lets you edit the paths, place trenches and turret emplacements, and even change the terrain tiles and fluff so that you can make it look how you want it to. When that’s done you can put your own challenges online and have other people play them, and in turn play other people’s challenges for XP. Like I was saying there is a ton of gameplay here.
There are a few issues I’m not a fan of. I guess first, visually it doesn’t knock me out. I’m a fan of old school Mechwarrior, the art for that was never amazing, but it did have a unique feel to it. I’d definitely like to see some real style put into it. Second, the interface has some issues. It takes a while to get used to where everything is, as how things work isn’t immediately obvious. I didn’t even understand the circles until I dove into the unit creation and figured out they were HP, Armor, and/or Shields. The cool thing is that the designer knows this and actually put out a post on the indie game reddit saying “hey what would you guys do to improve the GUI?”. I think this is a great sign, it shows that the developer understands the issues with the game and wants to take player’s input as to how things should be fixed. That’s the type of guy you support and Gratuitous Tank Battles is the type of game you support because no matter how much you find this game priced at this seven scoop sundae of a tower defense extravaganza is giving you an enormous amount of gameplay for your buck. With the amount of customization options you get, you’re practically able to make your own version of the game and that’s something that no other tower defense game really lets you do.