Armored Battle Crew : Review
Tanks. WW1. Trenches. Voxel people. This is Armored Battle Crew. A cutesy take on a tank management game in the vein of Bomber Command or FTL. So does it make the grade of get choked by Mustard Gas?
Take one part RPG, one part semi-pausable live action, and one part tank builder, and you have Armored Battle Crew. The title also includes “WORLD WAR I” so I assume we’ll see others in the series.
At the most basic level you get a WW1 era tank, staff it with crew members of your choice, and let them go out to fight. Some crew are better drivers, or medics, or gunners. Deciding who goes where, and who does what, is part of the challenge. Sure your best medic needs to patch up the driver, but he’s also an awesome gunner.
You may also customize your tank to a certain degree using experience gained. The campaign mode has a semi-historical bent where you head to fight. But once you arrive this is not Ypres or Passchendale.
The graphics are voxels(?) and the landscapes, while trenched and defended, seem cheery and rather like somewhere you’d go on holiday. The Central Powers soldiers charging you look rather stereotypical but the anti-tank grenades they lob are most definitely not.
As you progress through missions you can capture command points and gain yourself the ability to call in supplies and some infantry reinforcements. The pace on each map is, at first, maddeningly slow, but once you get use to the tempo of moving from one hot spot to the next it’s really not too bad.
The world is squishy, trees topple, barbed wire collapses, but at times the movement feels weird and stilted. For all my griping about speed I mean it is a WW1 era tank with a ridiculously tiny engine.
Each map or custom battle gives you a set of objectives that may require you to storm all over the map. In case you haven’t guessed this isn’t a simulation, it’s a game. It makes no effort to emulate the actual performance of a real British WW1 tank. It is in the vein, the flavor, the idea.
It’s not a game where you’ll grind your tank in the mud and get stuck only to watch as thousands are slaughtered around you. It’s a game where you’ll send you plucky medic to patch up your mustached mechanic so he can put out the tank fire. All the while the Hun plink at you in some odd French looking tank.
So is it fun? Yes. It’s a quick romp in a cutesy world with a familiar theme. It doesn’t stray too far from tropes you’d normally see in wargames. You dash about (slowly) and manage your crew all the while watching the infantry (friendly and hostile) die around you. If you enjoyed Bomber Command you’ll probably enjoy this game.
But if your idea of an ideal tank sim is something like Steel Beasts Pro, then you’d best look elsewhere. This is not the CMANO of voxel tanks. It’s not a Graviteam Pixel or Combat Mission BlockPeople. Take it for what it is and it’s not too bad.
It’s worth pointing out that a similar game, UBOAT, is not anywhere as easy to control as Armored Battle Crew is. Your tank crew is simple to order about, clear in task and purpose, and with a few hotkeys can accomplish most every task. One thing I hated about UBOAT and Bomber Command was searching for commands, proper spots to click, and sorting the orders. That is, refreshingly, not an issue with Armored Battle Crew.
On the down side the game gets rather repetitive and doesn’t hold my interest for more than a battle. But then a few days later I’ll head back to the voxel trenches and do it all over again. Once the game has some more meat to it and the grind is minimized I think it’ll be good fun.
All in all it’s a decent buy for $20 and looks to get better in the future. If you’re into this sort of management game give it a go.