If War Thunder was a movie, it would probably have Steven Spielberg behind the camera. There are epic battles, massive explosions, hair-raising combat sequences and the sheer size and scale of the conflicts involving planes and tanks gives it the look and feel of a big budget film.
WWII has been a well that game developers have perhaps visited one time too many, but Gaijin Entertainment still manages to draw a lot of good fun from the setting. While the confusingly large number of options and clunky interface can be a little off-putting, the action makes the game worth playing.
War Thunder is a freely downloadable game. And even though you can speed up your progress slightly by unlocking vehicle and weapon upgrades through in-game purchases, the game doesn’t force these on you. If you are persistent enough, you can unlock all of the upgrades naturally over the course of playing the game, which is a breath of fresh air compared to some other games that indulge in blatant cash grabbing.
The Game Play:
You can play the game either on terra firma by piloting a highly armored vehicle, or if you choose to, rain death from the skies in a fighter plane. Any given match has up to 32 player slots, and since the game is a free download, there are thousands of players online at any given moment. You don’t need to worry about finding people to play with. The gameplay is pretty standard where two opposing teams battle it out to achieve objectives like capturing and controlling strategic points around the map or just laying waste to the enemy team.
The game offers you three different difficulty options for aerial combat, so you can hop into one of the three depending upon your level of expertise with flight games. Arcade Battles are more over-the-top and you can handle your plane easily, in addition to having unlimited ammo. You also start the game already mid-flight, so you can save yourself the embarrassment of getting yourself off the ground that you might have encountered in other flight games. If you think this is too easy, you can choose Realistic mode where you actually need to take off and land, and the plane handles more realistically. And if you think you are an expert, or maybe if you just like punishment, you are placed inside the cockpit of your plane and you have to handle all of the operations yourself. You can’t switch to a third-person POV or use any assists.
As you would expect, Arcade mode is the most popular among players online since the battles are more enjoyable. Planes twist, turn and perform flips all without damaging themselves, and shooting wildly while doing it. You have unlimited ammo, so you can focus on what’s important – aiming and shooting. The Realistic and Simulator modes are less popular, but matches are more intense since the skill level of the individual players is higher. In these modes you need to pick your battles and carefully conserve your ammo. If you blow your entire ammo load too early in a fight, you will be a sitting duck in the sky. If you want a more realistic taste of what WWII aerial battles must have been like, you might want to try one of these modes. However, if you couldn’t care less about physics or realism and just want to have fun, Arcade mode is where it’s at.
The ground combat is less unique here and will remind you of many other similar games you have played. The tanks don’t display the same attention to detail that the planes have received. They turn and fire pretty easily, even if you’re playing on the highest difficulty setting. The only dynamic that gives you a feel for the weight of a Panzer is how slowly they move across the terrain. However, it might be argued that this actually is a good gameplay decision since the ground battles are more accessible to newer players. The tanks look decent and all have different armor types that make a huge difference in battle. If you’ve got a glass cannon, you might not want to rush headlong into enemy fire.
The control scheme:
Is fluid all around, whether you’re in the air or on the ground. The PS4 controller works well to maneuver the individual vehicles. If you want to experience a more PC-like shooting game, you can switch to the touchpad. However, since the touchpad is so small, it might take you a while before you get used to handling it during fights. The menu system is a bit difficult to navigate without the use of the touchpad. Since the game was developed both for the PC and the PS4, they share the exact same menu system, which as you can imagine is way easier to access via a keyboard-mouse combo. On the PS4, you might have trouble getting the pointer exactly where you want it to go. In addition, there is almost too much information on the menu screen, and this might be intimidating to some.
War Thunder is a fantastic simulation of the WWII era and features a ton of content for you to explore. There are loads of tanks, planes, difficulty settings and maps for you to test out. Also, since this is an online game, the developers are constantly adding new content to the game, with naval combat expected to appear soon. So if you’re looking for a great multiplayer experience that transports you back to the last great war our world has seen, load up War Thunder, take to the skies or strap yourself into your favorite tank and fire away.
War Thunder PS4 Review Score: 8.3 Out Of 10
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