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Girls und Panzer: Dream Tank Match

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    Rin-Coconut
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    Girls und Panzer: Dream Tank Match

    Rating: 5.0 – Flawless

    Girls und Panzer: Dream Tank Match

    NOTICE: If you are worried about the language barrier, don’t be. The Asia version (different than the Japanese version) is in English.

    The girls are back in an all new game~!
    Girls und Panzer is easily in my top 5 list of best anime ever made. I love the characters, the military/school setting/aesthetic, the use of tanks, and of course the action and unorthodox strategies they pull off time and time again. I love everything about the show and I’m also a fan of the previous Girls und Panzer game that was out on the PS Vita in 2014. When I saw that a new game was coming out, and on PS4 at that, I was more than stoked and pre-ordered it immediately. The game follows the events of the Girls und Panzer movie, so I believe it is 100% mandatory to have watched the anime and the movie prior to purchasing this. It is not necessary though to play the PS Vita game prior, but its a fun game so I do suggest checking it out if it interests you. Now onto the review, PANZER VOR!

    Gameplay
    The first target is the general gameplay. The gameplay consists of the fictional female-only martial art known as Senshado, a form of strategic war-like sparring using only tanks. This game has introduced numerous changes to the gameplay so I will address these throughout the review for those who have played the first game. People who have not played the first game should also read about all the changes as that’s where I talk about a large amount of the dynamics of this game.

    Gameplay for most battles consists of locating the enemy, strategically taking them all out or taking down the flag tank, dodging fire, being strategic, and so on. The game provides numerous modes of play and numerous objectives. Objectives consist of entirely annihilating the opposing team, flag tank battles, reaching a destination, surviving the time limit, and 1 vs 1 battles. This is a fun variety of objectives that really help diversify the gameplay and keeps it fresh and exciting. The game has a tremendous amount of tanks that all have different stats and play differently out on the field. Some tanks are slow, some are fast, some have rotating barrels, some don’t, and the tanks behave differently depending on what type of biome they’re on as well. This creates the same sort of appeal that welly done racing games have, a tremendous amount of vehicles that all play differently with numerous nuances, strengths, and weaknesses to both exploit and work around. As this game is based around the movie, and the movie introduced an even more tanks to the Girls und Panzer universe, you have a very wide variety of tanks to choose from, ranging from the enormous Maus all the way down to Anchovy’s tankettes, and everywhere in between. This game introduces what I see from my non-existent real life tank driving experience, more realistic controls of the tanks. In the previous game the tanks were of course bulky to move as they are in this game, they are tanks after all, but it didn’t feel all too complex. Now to pull off turns you have to do very aggressive movements with the analogue stick, even with my experience with the first game there was still a very brief learning curve with the new analogue stick-to-movement ratio, after a few matches though it became totally natural and is actually a major improvement from the previous game’s controls. You move your tank with the left analogue, and control your barrel with the right analogue, and fire and reload with R2. Some tanks also have two barrels that can be fired and reloaded separately. There is a lock on feature and bonus attributes too but I feel these over simplify the gameplay so I refused to use them, controlling both the barrel and movement manually is a lot more challenging and fun.

    Some important changes the game made to the controls are reloading, drifting, treads, team control, terrains, and the tank hit boxes. This game has made a tremendous improvement to the reloading system. Gone are the days of helplessly waiting forever while your tank reloads, now you have the potential to reload in half the time~! This takes the form of a meter at the bottom of the screen with a tank round slowly making its way across. Hit the reload button when it fits up in a marked rectangle and you immediately reload, miss it though and it will reload even slower. This new element makes it so you can fire a lot quicker and gives you another thing to watch and trigger during the game which makes it even more fun. You can also now drift in the game, and a tank drifting is just as cool as it sounds. As all fans know, tank drifting plays a big role in some of the most iconic scenes of the anime, so its really fun they added this feature. You could try to pull off some crazy attacks with it, but I find the drifting to be a huge aide in maneuvering the tank around corners and tight turns or to quickly get around an enemy. The game has also incorporated the tank treads into the game, this is again a very smart inclusion. Now you can target a tank’s treads and stop it in its tracks. Of course this can also happen to you, but it manually repairs itself and clicking X can speed up this process.

    The game has also introduced a new method for team control. In the previous game you could temporarily switch to another tank of your team and go into an overpowered mode and temporarily wreak havoc. Well this is gone, no more overpowered mode and mind-control of your comrades, but instead we’ve gotten something a million times better. The new method of tank control is a planning sheet, I’m not sure what the proper name is, but its the type of map with the battle plan and little flags of you and the enemy. You can now totally direct your team around the map and to perform various actions like a variety of attack styles, defense, and recon. This adds a whole new dynamic to the game and you can pull off crazy strategies and watch them really play out, its an amazing feeling and any match I can utilize it in is insanely fun. I absolutely love this addition and I think its the best change they’ve done.

    The game has also introduced some other changes to the system, these are more of improvements than solid changes though. Now the battlefields are a lot more dynamic with detailed hills, ranges, valleys, and so on. There’s all kinds of rocks and bumps that you ride over. It makes it feel more fun to drive fast, especially with a small tank that flies through the air, you can flip too which is pretty funny to see. The tanks also have better hit boxes or zones too. Each tank has a variety of weak and strong points and shooting the tanks in different areas can wield wildly different results. Of course this was also in the first game, but I think they put more attention to the details of it this time around. Also this game introduces diagonal defense. A lot of tanks have diagonal armor as the angle creates extra buffer, you can now utilize this by rotating your tank a bit diagonally to the enemy.

    You also now have custom tanks which adds to the game. This game has a Maus-load of unlockables that consist of tanks, characters, stickers, special abilities, and tank colors. Unlocking all of these adds to the life of the game and your unlockables can be used in some of the game modes. The crew members also change the stats of the tanks which can help you try to level out the weaker areas your tank of choice has.

    All of the changes and additions has greatly improved the already tremendously fun formula. I found this game to be insanely fun and addicting. The combat is awesome, playing with and fighting a variety of tanks, strategizing, and the overall improved gameplay lead to a wonderful experience. Now onto the various modes of play the game offers.

    Story Mode
    The story mode follows the events of the movie, so it recreates all of those battles in the form of numerous broken down stages/levels. As with the first game the story mode is very scripted. What I mean by that is, it wants to follow the story so much that it guides you through everything, kill these specific tanks, move to this specific area, kill this specific tank, and so on. You don’t have much freedom in this mode and oddly enough the story mode is also the easiest mode in the game, despite these factors though, its still pretty fun. The story mode also though does introduce a major change, a rather bad one. This game skips over iconic moments of the battles. I know the movie had extremely outlandish moments that would never happen in real life, but I don’t see that as an excuse for excluding them from the game, especially when the first game that was on a less powerful system included these kinds of scenes as playable events. This was rather disappointing.

    The story mode still has the replayability the first game had, but in a much cooler way. In the first game you could replay the levels as other Oorai High tanks, but now you get to play as all of the other schools, which is definitely very cool. This adds replayability as each tank has different dynamics and roles which leads to different experiences all within the same level. The story mode is still not too long though even with playing each variation, you can clear it in a day if you play nonstop. I should also note that each level usually has 2 – 4 different variations, not one for each school.

    Domination Mode
    Alright, onto the bonus modes. I actually find that these modes are more fun than the main game as it doesn’t hold your hand and the matches usually last longer and are more challenging. One of my favorites of these is the Domination Mode. The mode consists of five back-to-back matches with randomized components. You’ll also do one battle for each objective (annihilation, survival, etc), but the order, location, and enemy, are all randomized. This leads to a huge amount of replay as you’ll have a different experience each time. Also the draws are luck based, sometimes you get rather difficult pulls or bad areas, if you die you have to go all the way back, so unlucky draws add to the length of the game, and they also just feel like a challenge and don’t come off as annoying or cheap at all. In addition to this each school can challenge this, leading to a variety of gaming experiences. Some schools are balanced, some are slow and strong, and one school even has one lone tank. All of the variables involved in the different tanks really adds a lot to the domination mode. This mode also includes a short mini-story for each school. I found domination mode to be a ton of fun and enjoyed it thoroughly.

    Special Mode
    Special Mode is basically the challenge missions of the game. The missions come in three difficulties and have some variety to them. Some are just matches, some are matches from the anime/previous game, and some are obviously challenges and not normal matches. Difficulties here range from extremely easy to downright impossible. Some of these missions make you use a designated tank but also some let you use one of your custom tanks.

    Free Battle
    Free Battle was in the first game and is pretty cool. You can make teams to use and fight against with your own match rules. You can use both default and custom tanks and designate the CPU levels of comrades and enemies. This is especially fun if you like the idea of creating your entire own team from scratch or want to create your own challenge missions.

    Online
    This game introduces online play which is a very cool idea. In online you get paired up with other players into teams to do battle (either annihilation or flag). You can use your custom tanks here and use your unlocked tank captains and stickers to show off your waifu pride or favorite schools. At the time of writing this review the online wasn’t all too active though. Every other player I saw on there were Japanese with no western players in sight. This means you have to conform your online play to Japan time or you’ll sit in lobby purgatory. I also often saw the same players repeatedly and the lobbies can take a long time to fill, often where I just exit and go back to playing offline. Maybe it gets more active when I’m asleep, but times when I’m plying it it wasn’t all too active. There are also server issues where it can get into a fit of booting everyone out repeatedly for a few minutes. When the online play does happen though its pretty fun. Annihilation is done in the form of universal health bars, if you die you respawn, but all that damage you received goes to your team’s life points, and whoever reaches zero first loses the match. The online feature is cool but I wish it was more active. I was hoping it would be more active with the game being released in English, but a lot of potential buyers seem to be boycotting it because they want it released in America or Europe, despite it being released in English, despite the first game never coming here, and despite 99% of anime games (and at a greater point, majority of Japanese games in general) never being localized anywhere outside of Japan. If potential players were buying the game we would see a higher online presence as the game has already been out for awhile in Japan and only hardcore players remain online.

    Alright, so that’s all the modes. The games provides multiple modes and varied gameplay with all sorts of dynamics. Its a ton of fun and I really enjoy this game thoroughly.

    Story
    The story in this was very very odd. Instead of following the story of the movie they decided to make it be the characters talking about the events of the movie. This was really confusing at first as they talk about everything that happened during that part of the battle BEFORE you play it. I have no clue why they decided to do it this way, it just felt really weird. Though on the flip side it was interesting to see the girls provide commentary and additional thoughts on the events of the movie. Something I really like that they did in this game is that they thoroughly show everyone, so if you have some obscure favorite character you’re going to see her a lot. This was a great thing they did as the series has such a massive and lively cast who don’t all get to shine in the anime.

    Graphics
    I was honestly fine with the graphics of the first game, but wow, they made such an improvement~! The game is absolutely beautiful. Everything is bright, vivid, and detailed. A lot of anime-based games have more simplistic graphics, but they definitely went all out on this. They also did a great job making the 3D characters still look like anime but not all weird. They also did a great job on the environments and blending realism with the anime aesthetic. Great job all around.

    Music & Sound
    Songs from the anime and the whole original Japanese cast in a fully voiced game, what is there not to love? I love the Girls und Panzer soundtrack and they definitely pump this game full of it with themes for the different schools and some iconic tracks from the anime.

    Overall
    Overall, if you liked the first game, then this is an absolute must buy. If you like both Girls und Panzer and games like Call Of Duty and dislike being 360 no scoped, then this is also an item very worthy of purchase. Also if you’re just a Girls und Panzer fan and want a game of the series, this game is a ton of fun and worth buying. This game greatly improved the already tremendously fun stuff they had going on in the first game, has introduced all sorts of mechanics, has numerous modes of play including online play, is available in English, is based on one of the best anime to ever exist, has extremely fun gameplay and can be challenged repeatedly with randomized and custom matches, and best of all, lets me finally play as Anchovy~! I absolutely love this game and I’m able to look past the few flaws it has because of the increase of quality everywhere else. I love this game, and I love Girls und Panzer, PANZER VOR!

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