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War of the Human Tanks - Limited Operations (PC) artwork

War of the Human Tanks - Limited Operations (PC) review

"Unlimited adorable misery."

This is the third game in the War of the Human Tanks trilogy, and, as such, this is my third time through the whacky world of adorable chibi girl genocide. It takes place in the Ďfictionalí country of Japon, (which Iíve already made fun of twice so will cut some slack towards today) which is nearing the end of a brutal civil war. Itís just that rather than get their own hands dirty, each side have produced an army of cute robot girls who march out to their deaths in the peopleís stead. But theyíre robots so thatís okay, right? I mean, sure, theyíre technically sentient but theyíre usually less intelligent than the average human, so them being blown up in mass numbers isnít that much of a loss. Theyíre more like interactive chess pieces, with assault rifles and grenade launchers. That form unique opinions and attachments and smile faintly at you as you order them to their demise.

Thereís a lot of text to run through during a Human Tanks game, most of it dealing with the politics of the war mixed in with a healthy dosage of anime tropes, which leaves the creeping feeling of unease commanding a disposable army to grow on you organically. The tanks donít really mind dying; they were only created to suffer a flashy death on the battlefield, but itís hard not grow attached or be a little freaked out by their endearing naivety or genuine affection towards you, their commander.

Itís doubly hard to send your Tanks to their doom in Limited Operations which stays true to its byline by limiting the crap out of your forces and giggling behind its hand as it watches you squirm. In the two previous games, grinding your way to victory was a definite possibility. Back then, you could replay old missions as often as you pleased and use the funds gained from your infinite sorties to bolster your ranks with high powered Tanks, or plough resources into research and development to ensure you always had the most advanced army in the fight. Lose that awesome attack tank that could dual wield assault rifles or that scout tank with the insane recon range? Not a problem. You could rebuild them. You could make them stronger. Thatís no longer an option.

War of the Human Tanks - Limited Operations (PC) image

Brave the walls and walls of text that try to navigate you through the very wordy story of the Human Tank saga and youíll learn that the radioactive particles once rife in the air of Japon are receding sharply. This is great news for the humans, who find these pesky buggers fatal, but awful news for the Tanks, as this is their fuel supply. This means production is closed down, and the majority of the countryís Tanks are inoperable. Instead of building yourself a rampant army of swarming chibi doom, you instead have a very small pool of upbeat smiley girls to command. A finite pool. A pool that usually gives you quite the disadvantage that you canít use industry to work your way out of.

So, with grind ruthlessly eliminated as a means of progression, youíre left instead with tactical brilliance to relay upon. God help most of you. Youíll need that, as well as a generous dose of luck. War in War of the Human Tanks is a kind of pseudo-real time affair where youíre dropped onto a hex grid covered in a fog of war, then asked to slowly explore it while the opposition does likewise. Itís tricky stuff; sometimes it pays to stuff your team with scout units who can uncover a lot of the hidden map with recon skills, then use long range artillery to destroy them from afar, but artillery has a long reset period meaning ground troops sometimes get two turns in to their one. Sometimes youíre better off trying to sneak soldiers down the flanks, trying to hunt down units or taking pot-shots into the fog and hoping for a hit. Itís a bit like a warped game of Battleships, assuming the battleships were adorable and actively hunted down the enemy.

The reset periods are what give Human Tanks their RTS moniker. Rather than being purely turn based, each Tank has a modem which needs to power up before she can be moved and then shuts down to start the process anew upon her turnís completion. Itís bloody nerve-wracking at times; manoeuvring an assault tank into a strategically sound position and then leaving her blind and defenceless while the seconds tick down. Or having your scout spy a particularly nasty bunch of incoming troops and hoping they stay alive long enough for the artillery or sniper units to wake up. Because if a scout falls, her recon vision vanished alongside her and youíve just lose all those clean targets to shoot at.

War of the Human Tanks - Limited Operations (PC) image

This has been true for all three games, and the differences have mainly been through the campaign. The first game offered non-linear progression through a reasonable stretch of missions that could finish up with one of four endings. The second game was a significantly shorter affair when tackling the main plot, but offered a massive bonus dungeon you could try and mine for hidden tank types, shiny wealth and delicious glory. Limited Operations has none of that; thereís no bonus stages to speak of, but it becomes the least linear and most sprawling game of the three. Thereís several ways you can branch off from battles. Some unlocking depending on your victory (with some routes only accessible should you suffer a loss) and others only opening up should you complete a Limit Clear, which bestows a hidden objective such as achieving an S rank, or destroying 100% of the enemy army before time runs out.

It can take a lot of time and effort to weasel away at limit clears, and it doesnít always feel like the rewards are worthwhile. You can battle through Limited Operations quite contently without going out of your way to complete limits, even eat the odd loss along the way without any real concern. Thereís a depressingly realisation that comes with the ability to trudge towards the end rather than stride, but it seems rather fitting in a game that promises you the slowly quiet death of an entire army of cute wide-eyed girls, I suppose.


EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (August 21, 2016)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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