I recently got a chance to check out the latest build of Gratuitous Tank Battles, the upcoming release from the good people at Positech Games. This tower defense/RTS hybrid is looking to be quite a time-killer, with tons of customization options and the ability to play each map as either the defender or attacker.
The premise is quite simple. The Great War never ended, resulting in over two hundred years of fighting (although one wonders how, exactly, there's anything left to fight over). Ultra-modern tanks, giant mech walkers, and laser-infantry now command the battlefield. Players take the role of commander of either the attacker or defender as waves of troops and armor attempt to cross enemy lines. Maps are a series of paths, and the point of the game is simply for the attacker to get a pre-set number of units across. The defender, of course, is trying to stop them.
At the outset, each side gets a small compliment of unit types to take into battle. With something of a rock-paper-scissors type interaction between units, players try to commit the most appropriate units to the battle at the opportune time. There are not a lot of controls available after choosing a unit--defenders place either turrets or infantry squads in various positions along the path, and let them hold their ground. Attackers, conversely, choose which units land at the starting points on the various paths, and hope for the best. There is the ability to command units to concentrate fire on a specific target, which can be vital at some points, but most of the time each unit simply fires as it sees fit. Attackers also get an option on branching paths--they can choose which track their units take to the other side.
Battles continue until the attackers run out of supply, which is the basic currency of the game. While defenders get a constant trickle of supply (augmented by supply rewards for defeating enemy units), attackers are much more limited. Once the attackers run out of troops, provided they haven't pushed the requisite number of units past the enemy lines, the defenders declare a victory.
The battles are quite fast and frantic, and I quickly learned I'm just not all that good at these tower-defense type games. The trick, of course, is to predict enemy intentions and have the appropriate units in place as needed, not to find oneself responding and reacting through the entire match. Thankfully, the game speed is easily modified, to the point where players can move forward a frame at a time. The rest of the controls are equally well laid out, although I sometimes had a difficult time remembering which unit was most effective for a given situation, a problem easily rectified by a helpful tooltip.
Not all the fun happens during the battle--Gratuitous Tank Battles also offers a deep unit customization feature. Players can spend time tweaking the strengths and abilities of their units as well as their cosmetic appearance, to their hearts content. New augmentations are earned as the player progresses through the battles, and these augmentations can be used to create much more effective units.
For those with even more creativity, players can design maps with which to challenge themselves or friends. Again, the options seem quite extensive and undoubtedly will add quite a bit of freshness once the community gets a crack at it.
All in all, Gratuitous Tank Battles is shaping up to be quite a fun little tower defense game. With quick, furious battles and scads of customization options for both attackers and defenders, I can see this one eating up many enjoyable hours.
You can find more information on the game on the games official website