By Joseph Luster
Total Tank Simulator
For a World War II simulator with a surprisingly colorful twist, developer Noobz from Poland recently came through with the aptly titled Total Tank Simulator. The name is about as straightforward as the game itself, which gives players access to a couple of hundred different units and tasks them with setting out across over 50 distinct maps to take part in large-scale strategy battles. While there’s no multiplayer yet at the time of this writing, there’s still plenty of attention to detail and fun CPU warfare to be had in this 505 Games-published PC outing.
The unit variety is certainly a standout from the start, but what really separates Total Tank Simulator from the rest of the sim games out there is the unique visual style. Whether you’re duking it out on the snow-covered plains of Russian Taiga or the scorching Sahara Desert, Total Tank Simulator almost gives off a toy-soldier aesthetic with its colorful environments and simplified, blocky vehicles. To make matters more interesting, pretty much everything on the maps can be destroyed, ensuring that each skirmish plays out as explosively as possible.
The main campaign of Total Tank Simulator has a few different flavors within, from standard last-man-standing deathmatches to missions where you have to kill specific enemy units within a time limit, defend special allies for a set amount of time, and protect your units from waves of incoming enemies. Beyond that, sandbox mode lets you play out your own absurd scenarios, while shadow mode has you attempting to survive against your own victorious armies from earlier battles. Think of the latter as a war-sim version of competing against your own ghost in a racing game.
The different vantage points from which you can experience this game are another strong suit. In addition to zooming out and playing with a grip on the bigger picture of combat, you can opt to zoom in as close as possible and play as an infantry unit for some pure first-person shooter action. You can approach battle in the manner that best suits your style, and even when you’re losing you tend to do so in such a spectacularly explosive way that it’s not too annoying in the end. Not every unit is fully optimized as far as the quality of the controls, but this is something that could always be improved in the future.
With decent CPU AI, a bunch of different ways to participate in battles, and some standout visuals, Total Tank Simulator is worth checking out. It’s definitely a little rough around the edges, and it could use some more standard features, such as multiplayer. If they throw some competent online competition into the mix in the future, this indie tank/war sim will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the bigger entries out there.
Publisher: 505 Games
Unless you’re already deep into the tabletop world, it would be easy to assume there aren’t that many World War II board games. There are, in fact, quite a lot, but one of the best to grace the tables in recent years is publisher Osprey Games’ Undaunted: Normandy. Rather than taking on massive battles across huge maps with dozens of units, Undaunted boils things down to two players, with one platoon a piece, for some up-close-and-personal sessions you won’t soon forget.
The setup is simple: One player takes control of a U.S. infantry platoon, while another controls a platoon of German soldiers. Platoons consist of three squads each, with soldier types ranging from riflemen and scouts to snipers, machine gunners, and officers. Rather than placing plastic figurines on a map, Undaunted has you building decks and setting tokens on a modular battlefield composed of cardboard tiles.
The intimate nature of these showdowns is immediately clear. When a casualty occurs, the affected player removes a single card from the squad, representing an individual human loss and a significant blow to the unit. Further complicating matters are Fog of War cards, which help simulate the chaotic nature of battle by slowing opponents down and generally taking up valuable space in your hand. Battles inevitably get messy by design, and that’s part of the beauty inherent in Undaunted.
If you’re even remotely interested in war-based tabletop gaming, Undaunted: Normandy is a must. Each game is a very short commitment, so you can pretty much always expect to go for at least one more round once the initial outcome has been decided. Find a like-minded friend to play this with and you’ll have a mainstay for any board-game night to come.
Publisher: Osprey Games
Genre: Board Game