World of Tanks Blitz, the mobile version of the popular PC and XBLA tank combat game – won’t be coming out until 2014. But tank/shooter enthusiasts can play something a lot like it right now. Tanktastic comes from Ukrainian developer G.H.O.R. Corporation. With 12-player online tank battles, a promised stream of updates, and GameCenter Achievements, iOS gamers will be hard pressed to find a better way to get their tanks on.
Tanktastic is an online-only game, so make sure you have an internet connection before starting up. After registering an account and logging in, you’ll arrive in your own personal tank hangar. From there you have four primary options: Random match (jump directly into a game), Lobby (where you can host or join specific games), Workshop, and Research.
As with World of Tanks, the goal is to level up and build an arsenal of tanks to fight with. New tanks can be purchased from the Research station using silver (soft currency) and gold (premium currency). You can then browse and select your tanks in the Workshop.
Tanktastic currently offers 35 different tanks to unlock, with more promised in future updates. Vehicles are divided up by region: United States and Europe, Russia, and Asia. Each region then offers tanks in various classes. All the vehicles are real-world tanks with unique stats in health, armor, damage, speed, reloading time, and turret rotation. A fast tank will likely pack less of a punch than a slow tank, but slower vehicles can take and receive more damage.
For any mobile game with real-time online multiplayer to retain a playerbase, it needs a good lobby system and social features. Tanktastic covers the bases there, allowing players to name their rooms, select game type, and limit what level of tanks can participate in their battles.
Multiplayer with friends tends to be more fun than with people you don't know. Thankfully players can easily add others to their friends lists, see when they’re online, and join their games. Friends can also band together to form clans.
The game supports text chat both in lobbies and during gameplay, so players can both socialize and strategize with their teammates. Just try not to get shot while you type.
Tanktastic offers three competitive modes: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Capture the Flag. Team-based modes do not have friendly fire.
Since players are fighting it out in relatively slow-moving tanks, the combat has more of a tactical and deliberate pace than many shooters. That said, the controls are quite simple. Steer with a virtual stick on the left, and fire or zoom in with buttons at the right. Your tank’s health appears to the right of the firing reticle, while its readiness to fire shows up as a percentage on the left.
A mini-map at the top corner of the screen shows friendly units in blue and opposing enemies in red. If you need a better view of the battlefield, tap the map to switch to a full-screen view.
Tanktastic doesn’t have as much content as World of Tanks just yet, but it’s off to a good start. The all-important tank combat engine and multiplayer features are there. As long as G.H.O.R. continues to add more tanks, maps, and refinements, Tanktastic should have a long future ahead of it.