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  1. #1

    [PS4] Girls Und Panzer Dream Tank Match

    Oh BandaiNamco. How much I loathe you. You surely did and published good videogames, but when it comes to anime tie-ins your logo is like having LJN's rainbow over a licenced game. Again, there are good anime tie-ins by BandaiNamco but their recent videogame adaptations of much-beloved series have been on a downward spiral, to put it mildly.
    Girls Und Panzer is a well-made and fun anime series (and manga, and movies) that already received a game on the Vita. And that game sucked. I think my thread on that is still available somewhere. Now that Girls Und Panzer received his second movie BandaiNamco decided it's time for a second game, this time on the PS4. The Vita game was based on the anime series, so the second game, Dream Tank Match, is based on the first movie.

    Long loading times on startup don't make the game any favour, especially when there's a 10 seconds loading screen between menus featuring text entries and some images. But on the other hand loading of actual 3D missions takes about the same time.
    Girls Und Panzer Dream Tank Match starts with a brief introduction of what Senshadou is and three very short training missions on how to drive the tank, shoot, and handle the minimap. Why three missions instead of one? I don't know, but Dream Tank Match feels better than the previous game, tanks handle with the proper weight, the two analog sticks are completely independent (on the Vita the right analog stick would control the turret and would steer the tank, albeit at a lower rate than the left stick), there's a lock-on button, a lot of voice callouts for various situations (shell loading, new target, various reactions to hilly terrain or damage), and if you're not careful while traversing difficult terrain you can actually throw a track and not able to move for a short while.
    There's a garage where you can change crew, colour, insignas, and even test your modifications.
    Some options are greyed out until you reach level 10, and even training missions unlock new tanks (well, to be fair you start with no tanks at all).

    Everything's good so far, I'm actually thinking this game might be good. Let's start the story campaign, that follows the events of the first movie. First up is the exhibition match between Oorai and the other schools, and the game actually takes the time to introduce it witha sequence I don't recall being in the movie. Cool. But after 15 minutes of characters talking I wanted to actually drive a tank in a mission, so I skipped the remaining part.
    And so I found myself on the story campaign's main menu, unable to select the second entry. Have I done something wrong? Is what I selected just a story recap, no actual connection to the game? The game's main menu is still the same, and aside from options and garage I can't access anything else...

    Do I have to watch everything to progress?

    Yes I have to. The "skip" button is more of a "quit" button. Holding down any button kinda fast-forward through a cutscene, but you still have to sit through the whole thing if you want to get to actually drive a tank.
    OK, I'm finally there and I can select between two commanders, in this case Miho and Darjeeling. I go for Darjeeling and as soon as I have control (of course the game has to stop to show characters talking) I start firing at the first enemy tank, and...almost no damage. Switch target, nothing. I notice a tank labelled "target" and it's down in two shots. Mission Completed.
    I want to play as Miho in the same mission and...can't skip the cutscene I've already seen. Is this some kind of joke? Back to the mission I once again start firing and once again no damage. But I can damage a tank labelled "target", and once destroyed the mission is over. Again.

    Back to the story campaign menu, one more lenghty cutscene you can't skip and you're driving a tank through a city, following a series of checkpoints. Some enemy tanks follow you but are almost invincible. After 2 minutes of driving down through streets the mission is over. Next.
    Other cutscene, I start exactly in the same spot where I completed the previous mission, and told to drive down another series of checkpoints. An enemy tank emerges from the sea (yeah, it was in the movie and it was FUN), I try to fire at it and barely dent it. Then the enemy tank is put out of service as I reach the next checkpoint and the game announces that with a still from the movie. Oh joy. I continue to follow checkpoints until I reach a parking lot where enemy tanks are waiting, and FINALLY I can shoot tanks at will. That lasts about two minutes and then the mission ends, my "victory" (the exhibition match ends in a loss for Oorai, and so does the game) announced by another still from the movie.
    The friggin' Vita game had footage from the movie, now you're telling me that the PS4 can't handle some kind of video stream?

    And so the story campaign still follows a heavily scripted structure where tanks aren't supposed to be destroyed if the movie doesn't show them going down, missions are 3 to 5 minutes long (there's a time limit), with cutscenes and loading times twice as long as that.
    Wow.
    At the very least loading times on the Vita where shorter and you could skip cutscenes.
    But at least I'm level 10, meaning I can now access two more game modes: a proper skirmish battle (that I haven't played yet), and a recreation of some battles from the movie.
    Wait.
    Isn't that what story mode is about?
    Well, I try one and the AI is still the same as in the Vita version, tanks just drive as close to each other as possible, stop, and start firing. I got destroyed in this mission, probably because I dared to use terrain as cover and flank tanks trying to score a side or rear hit, but apparently once again armour is the same on all sides and critical hits are based simply on distance to the target.

    And thus The first hour with Dream Tank Match left me fuming. It's astonishing how not only developers didn't improve on the Vita original but actively made the game worse by absurd interface choices. Yes, it's only the first hour and maybe later missions will be better, but as a first impression Dream Tank Match was absolutely horible.

  2. #2

  3. #3
    I've played some more and I actually have a better opinion of Dream Tank Match than before.

    Story mode is absolutely terrible, Senshadou Kiwawemasu on the Vita was better. Missions were longer, a tiny bit less scripted, and actually let you play during climatic events. In Dream Tank Match moments like shooting the ferris well or taking down the Karl Gustav are narrated outside missions with simple still. Senshadou Kiwawemase had videos. And in Dream Tank Match there's an almost constant barrage of still and girls talking that pause the action in the most inopportune moments, making every single mission irritating to go through. And you can't skip cutscenes, which become boring to sit through ever since the second mission.
    Story mode is 20 missions long, with most of them offering the chance to play as different tanks. However most of the times it's from the same team, so what you have to do doesn't change much or at all, but so far story mode is the only mode that unlocked special actions and support options.

    Other single player modes include Domination and Extra matches; there's also Free match but that's just a custom scenario.
    Domination is a gauntlet of five stages where every school aim for a mysterious prize. Again cutscenes are unskippable, but they are shorter and as they don't rethread things already seen in the movie or series, they are more enjoyable. Stage sequence and opponents are picked at random, but the whole game has five types of mission objectives (reach the destination, survival battle, annihilation battle, flag tank battle, 1 VS 1). Domination is both frustrating and fun. Fun because missions aren't scripted and you can do whatever you want within the game's limits; frustrating because the time limit in some missions is way too short and because you can end up with an unfair advantage or disadvantage, like an annihilation match between Kuromorimine (5 heavy German tanks: Tiger I, Tiger II, Panther G, Elefant, a friggin' Maus) against Jakosota (1 medium tank). If you're playing as the former the mission is over the moment you spot the opposition; if playing as the latter you need to be on an open map to abuse drifting, otherwise you simply have enough firepower and armour to survive.
    One map, the swampland, sees the two teams separated by an impassable swamp, and that mission everyone sits stationary firing at each other. The alpine terrain, the only map used for the "reach destination" objective always has the same enemy placement. The Bocage maze is almost always used for 1 VS 1, and at times I've run out the timer without ever spotting the enemy.
    Fail once and you have to replay from the beginning.

    But...did I say drifting? Yes, tanks can drift. Get up to a certain speed, start turning, tap the brakes and tanks go drift like they were in Initial D. Drifting allows for tighter turns, temporary invincibility, and higher firepower. And I'll give the game credit for this, killing a tank in one shot while drifting is actually fun. To be honest once I've learned how to drift (there's no specific tutorial on that, you have to study the "guide" in the pause menu) the game became better despite its many flaws. I don't think that drifting alone can save Dream Tank Match as a whole, but at the very least allows players for some variety and vaguely thrilling matches.
    Also, unlike the Vita game tanks do have different armour ratings and even weakspots, so no more criticals by just running up to tanks. Cannons have maximum range and the game shows vertical deviation when outside pointblank range, so all major aspects are covered.

    Extra matches are a (short) series of miscellaneous matches with varied objectives. A couple even recreate matches seen in the series with the correct map, and there's one mission where you have to fight a giant BOCO (stuffed bear the movie's two main characters love). This mission is not exactly EDF, and even at the hardest difficulty level it boiled down in constantly going back and forth to avoid incoming fire and rhythmically hammer the R2 button to fire and quick-reload.

    Still have to try online, but there are casual matches, friend matches, private rooms, and even daily events. Unfortunately these events might force you to play with a tank you haven't unlocked yet.

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