Tanks and video games are simply a winning combination; a combination as old as video game history itself. Since gaming is all about being able to do things you otherwise couldn’t, it’s no surprise that driving a tank unsupervised is on the top of most bucket lists. Whether it is the seminal arcade hits by SNK, or the still popular World of Tanks on Xbox One, there is something especially satisfying about piloting an ingeniously designed war machine. It’s undoubtable that modern mech simulators can trace their origins back to tank arcade and simulator games, as tanks are the closest thing to a mech behemoth in the real world. Tokyo Warfare Turbo is an independently produced game serving as an enhanced edition of the original Tokyo Warfare.
Originally released on Steam and other digital PC avenues, on Xbox One this tank action game combines arcade and simulator style gameplay to offer something a little different from other that available. In a way, it feels like a fusion of World of Tanks and the oft forgotten Wii U launch title, Tank! Tank! Tank! by Bandai Namco. Speaking of which, Tokyo Warfare Turbo is actually a spiritual tribute to Namco’s lesser known 1996 arcade tank game, Tokyo Wars.
However, to be blunt, Tokyo Warfare Turbo feels like an unfinished game released in its alpha state. If anything, this probably should have been released under the Xbox Preview program as launching it as a final product on the Xbox Store is quite misleading. From the menus to the actual game itself, the whole experience feels like a demo of some cool ideas; but a mere demo nonetheless. Even if you’re excited about the prospect of a tank style arcade game, there isn’t much on offer here to make this a lasting experience beyond a few curiosity sessions. It’s unfortunately quite commonplace now for games to be released unfinished and then patched aggressively afterwards, but even so this is a case where even key features are absent.
Tokyo Warfare Turbo is missing basic modes of play too as, surprisingly for a 2019 release featuring game modes like deathmatch and team deathmatch, there is actually no semblance of multiplayer, be it online or offline. It’s usually not fair to criticise a video game for things it doesn’t have, but with a game about tanks battling out in large open maps, it simply doesn’t make sense to not have any multiplayer at all. Given that the game relies on a ranking system to unlock more tanks and parts, it is especially cumbersome to expect players to put in countless hours to rise through the ranks against arbitrary A.I opponents. While the deathmatch options can get boring quickly when playing on your own, at least there is a survival mode which works better as a single player experience.
The core tank gameplay of Tokyo Warfare Turbo is actually a lot of fun, with the tank control feeling like an effectively compromised fusion of arcade and simulation style approaches. There has been lot of attention to detail going into the presentation, where players can choose between multiple camera angles. The arsenal is used in an arcade style fashion where players can go in all cannons blazing, while the movement has a certain sense of realism. Still, even when the core gameplay is quite fun, it is situated in a rather empty game design where the maps are rather basic and bland. Although there is one fun map where gravitational physics get thrown out the window, even then the gameplay variety wears thin rather quickly. Despite there being a wide variety of tanks to choose from, there simply isn’t enough strategy within the level design to make the most out of their differences.
Although the gameplay is functional when it matters, the game as a whole is an absolute glitchy and buggy mess, hampered even more by the graphics which simply have an unfinished feel about them due to basic textures, amateur lighting effects and the camera making a mess of things in busier maps. In a way, the game is a little self-aware of its buggy nature, as some achievements involving breaking physical barriers of the environment and tank controls.
Tokyo Warfare Turbo on Xbox One feels like an unfinished and incomplete game, and while the core tank action can be quite enjoyable, it is unfortunately situated in a package that offers very little in the way of gameplay variety and modes. For those reasons, it’s hard to recommend an alpha build being sold as a final product, even with the possibility of patch updates coming down the line.