Panzer Tactics DS

Review: Panzer Tactics DS

DS Review

"Where Advance Wars managed to foster immense depth from simple and clean presentation and mechanics, "Panzer Tactics DS" doesn't hold back. This is war gaming at its most serious."

When it comes to tactical turn based warfare, DS owners are spoiled rotten. Sure, the list of such games on Nintendo's diminutive console is hardly a long one, but when it includes two games from the Advance Wars series, it's hard for portable tacticians not to smile. For any developer looking to trot out onto the field of combat, surpassing the success of Nintendo's own attempts must be a daunting task.

Sensibly, developer Sproing has taken a more tactical approach to overcoming this dilemma, positioning "Panzer Tactics DS", not as direct competition to Advance Wars, but as a more hard-core turn based experience. Where Advance Wars managed to foster immense depth from simple and clean presentation and mechanics, "Panzer Tactics DS" doesn't hold back. This is war gaming at its most serious.

Panzer Tactics DS is initially very daunting, and the feeling of information overload is not easily shaken. Cramming the small screens of the DS with as much data, statistics and information as physically possible, it is a title that asks…no…demands a lot from the player. After completing two (generally well designed) tutorials, you must then set about the task of dominating the battlefield. Choosing from German, Russian and Allied campaigns (each representing a different difficulty setting, with the German's being the easiest), Serving up 30 challenging missions to tax even the most the strategic of minds, the package is certainly substantial.

In terms of depth, Panzer Tactics DS has everything fans of the genre could ask for. Missions are varied and engaging, managing to hold your attention until the final objective is achieved. AI controlled opponents rarely bat an eye-lid in decimating your forces following an ill-planned attack, and the sense that every move you make has a real bearing on the outcome of the conflict is excellent.

Fairly traditional in its gameplay, Panzer Tactics DS doesn't stray to far from genre conventions. Taking place on large, hexagonally portioned maps, players must methodically plan every move, taking factors such as environment into account. There are a large number of vehicles and infantry types available, each with a long list of particular strengths, weaknesses and special abilities. Choosing the right unit for the right job is vital, and learning their many nuances is essential to successfully beating your foe.

In its commitment to offering a deep and complex gaming experience, Panzer Tactics DS does hit some pretty big problems problems. Most notable of these is in the presentation. Maps can become overcrowded, and differentiating one unit type from another is never as easy as it should be due to the tiny sprites, an issue that will only serve to exasperate those used to the beautifully concise presentation of "Advance Wars". Similarly, the amount of statistics that the game presents can be dizzying and can distract from the games core mechanics. If you manage to get to grips with the vast amount of information it can definitely add to the experience but, unfortunately, for many it will be a difficult hurdle to overcome. Sedate in its pacing, Panzer Tactics DS also makes few concessions for the newbie tactician, and it will undoubtedly prove to be too pedestrian for much of the DS's core audience.

Further problems lie in its online component. Merely setting up a match is a long and drawn out process that, upon completion, results in further frustration while you await an opponent to create a game with the same parameters as your own. The logic behind this system is unclear, and it proves to be a major handicap for what should be one of the games most important features. A multi-card multiplayer option is also available but, due to the niche appeal of the game, the chances of meeting a similarly tactically obsessed gamer are fairly slim.

Overall "Panzer Tactics DS" is flawed but playable. It is clearly a labour of love for Sproing, who demonstrate genuine commitment to the genre and the World War II setting. For those looking for a challenging and cerebral experience, it has a lot to offer, but unfortunately the many hurdles that the game throws up will likely prove too much for most gamers. With a bit more polish, Panzer Tactics DS could have offered a real alternative to Advance Wars. Sadly, it falls short of greatness and is probably destined to languish in the shadow of Nintendo's more accessible and ultimately more enjoyable titles.

N-Europe Final Verdict

A flawed but worthy entry into the turn based arena. One for the hardcore only.

  • Gameplay3
  • Playability3
  • Visuals2
  • Audio2
  • Lifespan3
Final Score



Deep and challenging gameplay
Stacks of statistics


Stacks and stacks (and stacks) of statistics
Indistinct visuals
Flawed online component
Steep learning curve

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