Over the past few years, we have seen some fairly unique - and, more importantly, entertaining - takes on the tower defense genre. We've seen 3D takes such as Sanctum, roll-reversal with Anomaly, and tower wars titles which have you attack and defend simultaneously. Enter Gratuitous Tank Battles; a tower defense title that lets you pick either side and focus your efforts on that one perspective: offense or defense.
The game starts off with a very thorough tutorial. It bombards you with a dialog box for everything; it can get a bit overwhelming. However, once you are getting into the first mission (building your turrets or sending out units), it's fairly straightforward.
As with most tower defense titles, Gratuitous Tank Battles has a top down perspective; it's functional, but not necessarily going to blow anyone away at first glance. However, this perspective allows the camera to zoom in so close you can see each unit fight and die. Moreover, The closer you zoom in, the louder the battle becomes; you can hear the gunfire and cries of falling soldiers - it's quite impressive sounding. Adversely, if you are zoomed out, it's more functional, but the most you will hear is the musical score playing in the distance.
Playing offensively is similar to commanding units in Anomaly: Warzone Earth - maybe even a little better. You basically buy units and send them into battle. In later levels, you can guide them through the path of least resistance to get more victory points. In some levels there are even several paths to send the invading forces down.
On the defending side, it's a standard tower defense affair. You place towers of varying types along the path used by the invading forces, in the hopes that your towers will defeat them before they get to your base.
Gratuitous Tank Battles' online functionality isn't a Player vs. Player (PvP) mode as one might expect; rather, you can download and play - or upload your own - user created scenarios. In addition, players can upload their victory score for others to surpass - if they can. The user created content adds a lot of replayability.
As does the content creation!
You can design your own units, with dozens of options - from the basic designs, to colour changes, and various augmentations - to choose from. The units are made available in any level - be they in the core game, or user created missions (yep, you can create your own missions too). Unfortunately, the creation system also seems to have the most issues. I created several levels, and a few of them would crash the game during launch.
Overall, Gratuitous Tank Battles is a unique take on the fledgling RTS spinoff genre, most notably due to its easy-to-use creation system and score sharing. Unfortunately, that creation system is marred by glitches that cause inexplicable crashes when loading some custom levels. Hopefully the developer will iron out any remaining issues in a patch, as, when it works, it's great fun.