Microsoft Xbox 360
ESRB rating: Teen
Review rating: 3.5 stars
Now that it’s possible to hop into a tank while playing top-notch FPS games such as the “Battlefield” series, most tank simulators are only enjoyed by hardcore enthusiasts. However, “World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition” rides the thin red line between simulation and arcade game play just enough to offer a fun experience for all players.
PC gamers have been enjoying the WWII-based “World of Tanks” for several years, and now the game has finally rolled it’s way onto consoles. It’s one of the first titles to offer the free-to-play model on the Xbox 360, but promising tank commanders will need an Xbox Live Gold membership in order to play. That’s because it’s an online-only 15-vs.-15 experience. Fortunately, this game runs smoothly online, and I haven’t experienced any performance issues.
Newbies are encouraged to play the in-depth tutorials and read the training manuals. It’s also important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of the three main weight classes. For example, lightweight tanks are great for scouting, but they’re destroyed quickly. Heavy tanks are slow and cumbersome, but dish out heavy damage. Medium tanks are in-between, which makes an ideal weight class for beginners. Two sniper-style tanks are also available, but only experienced players should use them.
Since each player’s game ends when their tank is destroyed, it’s a good idea to play strategically rather than rushing into battle. The only way to survive when the enemy outnumbers you is by playing smart, using teamwork and exploiting weaknesses. Customizing your tank with upgrades definitely helps, but it’s also possible to purchase those upgrades, as well as exclusive ones, with real money. It doesn’t equate to “pay-to-win,” but rather “pay-to-get-advantages.”
“World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition” is fun and exciting, but it can be frustrating for anyone not willing to invest lots of time or money.
‘Star Wars Pinball: Heroes Within’
Sony PlayStation 4 (PC)
ESRB rating: E10+
Review rating: 4.0 stars
Zen Studios has spoiled me for virtual pinball. Their “Zen Pinball” series not only looks and plays extremely well, but also has the best simulated physics of any virtual pinball series! Now they’ve released “Star Wars Pinball: Heroes Within,” and the inner geek in me is dancing as if I’m hanging out in the Mos Eisley Cantina!
One thing I really like about “Zen Pinball” is how the tables offer hyper-realistic physics mixed with surreal features. It’s pointless to try and “use the Force” to influence the ball, but it is possible to nudge the table. However, just like real pinball, too much nudging will result in tilting the table and rendering the flippers useless.
Maters of the Force is my favorite table, as it celebrates both sides of the Force, which is apparent in the way the table is split in two. The red Sith Lords appear on the left side, and the blue Jedi on the right. This sweet table has multi-levels, cool lightsaber sound effects and even paper cutouts of characters moving around!
Next we have the Han Solo table that features the infamous smuggler and his hairy sidekick, Chewbacca. This table shows well-known scenes like the Darth Vader blocking Han’s blaster shots as well as Han trapped in carbonite. One of my favorite sections is the mini-table that’s set inside the Millennium Falcon itself!
The Droids table is third on my list, and it features R2D2 and C3P0 in all their glory! This industrial table features moving gears, fans and Jawas, and literally looks like the inside of a giant Sandcrawler. With four bumpers and lots of ramps, this table offers nonstop action!
Last on the list is Episode IV: A New Hope. Although it’s visually appealing, this table isn’t too exciting. However, I do like how the middle changes depending on which scene is chosen, and the lightsaber-handled ball launcher is a nice touch.