Steel Legions Open Beta

So I was jamming some League of Legends with a few buddies from across the world and we got to talking about various games people were playing. One of those friends told me about a cool little tank game that was online only and it’s PvP only. The game’s name? Steel Legions. So I went to the site, saw a gameplay video, downloaded the client and got to playing.

Now I want to stress that this is an Open Beta and is not the final product, so any ripping I might do in this “review” needs to be taken with a grain of salt as stuff could be different a few months from now. So without further adieu, let’s move onto the meat of the review.

First off, I have to say that the idea of the game is fantastic. What it basically boils down to is this. You control a tank that you use to fight other tanks (players) that is upgraded as you level up. You can upgrade you engine, weapons, armor and something called a “tactical weapon” which function as a sort of special ability. You can enlist a crew to give you other special abilities and they also level up their abilities. You also change the look of your tank but changing it’s look also influences the strength of your tank. All this is wrapped around a mission based PvP battle for supremacy between the four different factions in the game.

Now if that sounds slightly complicated, that’s because it is. However, let’s start at the beginning… you open an account, download the client (or play through the browser, there really is no noticeable difference), log in for the first time and the first choice you will have to make is to choose which faction you will join. There are four (yellow, red, blue and green) factions that all occupy a certain percentage of the world map based on how many PvP battles that faction is winning. You spawn at your HQ, come out of a factory and are promptly told to go and destroy marauders to collect “machine parts” to “improve” your tank. Of course, Marauders are AI tanks of various difficulties that you need to farm to get various drops such as oil, gold, machine parts, ammo etc.

So that’s that in a nutshell. You go out and destroy marauders until you;re told to go to HQ and order a mission. Since I was playing with one of my friends, we went together and clicked on the give mission icon at HQ at the same time. We got separate missions. Fantastic. That irritated me no end, because I wanted to play with friends, not randoms but hey we thought maybe there’s an option to pair up. No such luck. Now that is unforgivable for a PvP game in my opinion, but even that is not the worst thing.

The worst thing is the grind you need to go through to do anything at all. You have various things you absolutely need to play the game. Oil to keep your tank greased up, medipacks to keep your crew safe, ammo for your tactical weapon and all these things may be bought with gold. You get 5 gold daily, as well as being to able to get a random drop when you are killing marauders. Actually, marauders will mostly drop machine parts (of which you need an absolute ton to upgrade your stuff later on, in the beginning (level 1 and 2) it’s relatively easy). I still think it’s a huge grind to get everything you need, particularly because you only receive experience for missions, but any damage taken from marauders will also decrease your oil/health level.

The missions are quite fun and there are 5 available at present. Ore Raid, Transporter Attack, Hill Domination, Mine Attack, Bunker Attack. On the other hand, these can all be from the defenders side. I played the transporter defense, hill defense and mine attack while I played and they are quite fun and if I had been playing with friends, I’m sure it would have been better. I got an Ore Raid mission, but the instructions were not clear on what to do and I’m pretty sure that the bunker attack/defense follows along the same lines as the mine attack/defense does.

Transporter Attack Defense is when you need to escort a transport truck from HQ to a mine/bunker and stop the opposition from destroying your transport. Fairly standard fare that. Mine/bunker attack/defense works slightly differently in that you need to pick up TNT to blow up a mine/bunker. The problem is that you move extremely slowly when you have the TNT and become an instant target. Hill domination/Defense is easy. Keep the hill for a limited amount of time or take it – easy enough to understand, but devilishly difficult to execute when you are the attacking team. Again, I’m not too sure on the Ore Raid Mission, though I’m sure I’ll figure it out with some more game time.

The general gameplay is similar to any point and click RPG you’ve played in your life time. Move the tank with a left mouse button click on the map, and attack using the right mouse button. the great thing is when you right click on an enemy, you auto-target them until they are dead or you choose another target. this leaves you free to maneuver around and avoid getting hit or use the ample cover to give yourself an advantage. The only real flaw with this system is that in ARPGs you have various classes and abilities that need to be used in combination with friends/pets to accomplish a story-based mission. The level progression in ARPGs is much smoother and the enemies/settings vary regularly so that you never feel bored. However, in Steel Legions, this constant repetition gets wearisome after a while and while it might be fun to kill a half hour or so a day, it’s not going to have anyone on the edge of their seats in the fashion of a Diablo or Titan Quest. Splitscreen Studios has a wonderful idea, but they need to do something drastically different to spice it up a little bit.

The graphics and sound are quite good, especially for a browser game. They would in fact be simply amazing had it not been for the glut of great browser games such as QuakeLive and Battlefield Heroes though special commendation goes to Splitscreen for making the client a measly 20 megs (and actually being playable in a browser with no installation necessary). They really have done a great job of making this a good looking game when everything is taken into consideration and I have to give them props for that at least.

So all in all, while the game needs a lot more work to become truly addictive, it is on the right path. I recommend you give it a try to see if it suits you, but I will give it a break for a few months before I try it again. I give it a 6/10 – more for going in a different direction than for anything outstanding in the game itself.