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Hands-on Preview by Jason Flick

You ever have that moment in a first person shooter where an enemy tank rolls up in front of you and you are the highlight of its day as its barrel turns on you and you only have an assault rifle? If you did, then you’re like me who wishes you were in that tank pointing that barrel. Well that can be a reality for those that get engaged in the Beta for Wargaming.net’s World of Tanks Xbox 360 Edition.

This yet to be released free-to-play title (to Live Gold subscribers) will put you in the driver seat of 60 World War II armored vehicles as you battle in a few modes. As of this preview, I only encountered the Standard battle mode which requires you to either capture the enemy base or defeat all of your opponents on the other team to win the battle. Actually doing that in the short term is a whole other can of worms though as World of Tanks Xbox 360 Edition takes strategy and usage of the MMO and FPS elements as well as planning with the RPG and simulator for the long haul.

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Most of my encounters were usually one-on-one matches that usually ended rather quickly. A few matches actually took time as my team had to go up against a sizable force as you can get thrown into a 15vs15 match. Regardless of a win or loss you gain experience and credits that allow you to research, upgrade, and buy new tanks or supplies to aid you in battle just not as much if you lose. There are 7 tiers of tanks to choose from but you have to work to get to them. While my knowledge of tanks from the World War II era is very limited players will undoubtedly recognize icon tanks like the Patton. For tank enthusiasts, World of Tanks Xbox 360 Edition will be a treasure trove of weaponry ranging from light tanks all the way up to the tank destroyers. The final release will include tanks from several countries but only tanks from the US and Germany are present in the Beta.

World of Tanks Xbox 360 Edition may be based on its PC counterpart but I have to say that it handles amazingly well with a controller. A large part of lasting in matches is how well you adapt to each tank’s handling over diverse terrain and how to aim and actually damage your opponents. Like a real world tank, your vehicles in World of Tanks actually are slowed down when going through terrain like swamps. You can however use the environment as a form of camouflage in combat which is great for getting the drop on the enemy at times as you have a few seconds to do some damage as both you and them become viewable to each other via second sight. Aiming down the barrel, via left trigger is a great way to line up a shot that may hit a tank in its more vulnerable side armor as that greatly effects your chances of survival.

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World of Tanks Xbox 360 Edition is a free-to-play game and with that comes the micro transactions. It is possible to play this game without paying a dime though as I did but for those seeking an viable edge you can spend real money to purchase the gold required to for instance become a Premium player for a set amount of time or apply camo to your vehicles permanently. Now depending on the game, I don’t really cough up cash to gain an advantage, but the system in place here does give the player a remarkable advantage both in the ammo you can buy and the experience and credits earned in combat to make it a little worthwhile.

As of this build, World of Tanks Xbox 360 Edition looks good both in its user interface and the tanks and environments. The User interface for the most part is clean but what I really like most about World of Tanks Xbox 360 Edition is the detail of the tanks themselves. Each are for the most part realistically recreated from their real world counterparts and look good as you roll through fences leaving tank treads tracks in the earth as you go. Environments are also destructible to a point such as blowing out a wall that’s being used for cover by another tank. At the same time the audio doesn’t disappoint as you here the roar of the engines and the sound of tank treads moving. You can even hear the sound of the turret swiveling as you aim down the sights. Each tank that I tried also sounded a little different from each other to fit their size and type instead of some cookie-cutter audio.

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World of Tanks is already a huge hit with the PC community with a solid following, but not everyone likes the constraints of being tied to the computer desk. World of Tanks Xbox 360 Edition if it gains the same popularity as its PC brother will most assuredly do quite well on the console as it brings new players to the game with its ease of use controls and a whole lot of dangerous firepower. If you like tanks and have an Xbox LIVE Gold subscription then be sure to check out the World of Tanks Xbox 360 Edition when it launches.