Having spent a regrettable amount of time fiddling with spark plugs and bumpers in Mechanic Simulator, I initially liked to believe that FunGi’s Arms Trade Tycoon: Tanks would be a walk in the park. After all, if I could cross a few wires and sell a Peugeot 208 to a complete stranger, then who was to say that I couldn’t pitch a revised blueprint of an armored tank to a warring nation? In my mind, it was the natural step forward in my career as a fledgling entrepreneur and carbon junkie. Little did I know at the time of my ascension as a wannabe innovator, however, was that I was a little out of my depth, and that tanks, although fastened with a lot of the same bells and whistles, were an entirely different ball game. Go figure.
Just to put it out there, my knowledge of tanks is next to non-existent, which means, as a candidate for Arms Trade Tycoon: Tanks, I’m not entirely qualified for the job. With that said, I do know my way around tycoon games, and therefore, to some extent, I am able to conceive a conniving sales pitch to the right audience. But as for building the products of which I’m attempting to ship, on the other hand, now that’s an entirely different story, and one that I’ll circle back to in a few minutes.
Before we sink any deeper into the tank-building process, it is worth pointing out that the game, in its current state at least, is still a fair ways off from being available in its entirety. To cut a long story short, FunGi still has a few bolts to tighten, so while we can’t comment on the full product, we can, on the other hand, discuss its Early Access features.
At its core, Arms Trade Tycoon: Tanks is a bread-and-butter simulation game, and one that allows its creators to both design tanks, as well as ship them to clients all over the globe for an ever-expanding web of paychecks. Its process is simple: acquire a bog-standard blueprint of a classic model, and tune its each and every mechanism in order to tick all of the boxes as presented by one of several countries. Aside from its generous selection of classic models, the game also allows you to chalk up your own designs—a process that involves having to secure a variation of mechanical components, and utilizing staff members to research and implement revolutionary modules.
As far as the Early Access version goes, Arms Trade Tycoon offers a fair-sized portion of World War I contracts to sift through—tasks that require you to engineer a multitude of components, as well as test your creations out on a mock-up battlefield before sending them out to the clients. It sounds all rather straightforward on paper, for sure, but for those who’ve never glossed over the finer details of an armored convoy before, it’s the polar opposite. For this reason alone, it’s somewhat difficult to recommend Tanks to anyone who lacks a basic understanding of how engineering works and evolves on a day-to-day basis.
Rather annoyingly, it doesn’t help that there are little to no tutorials to onboard, either. Matter of fact, from the moment you sink your teeth into the opening contracts, there isn’t a huge amount of hand-holding. Instead, you’re left with an entire network of buildings, all of which undertake vastly different operations, and a rather threatening UI that poses one too many options to choose from. It’s a lot to onboard, for sure — so be prepared for that.
The Finer Things
To start out, you’re given a clean slate of components, all of which stem directly from real-life World War I tanks. Your goal, as the fledgling connoisseur of mechanical gizmos, is to accept a contract from one of several nations, and work through a series of requests. For example, one contract may ask for several tanks, all of which will need to have better mobility over protection, whereas another may opt for high-powered machine guns over standard anti-tank guided missiles. It’s a bit of a mixed bag, but for the most part, it’s merely the case of having to shovel through the same motions and finding the right tool for the job.
As you’ll come to learn relatively early on in the campaign, each contract will pose a different set of challenges for you to overcome. Sure enough, the primary objective is to fulfill the requirements of each contract before bundling the tank into a crate and shipping it off to the other side of the pond. However, in order to actually check those boxes, you also need to figure out how to distribute your assets around one of several hangars and operation facilities. Of course, this means having to train mechanics and other personnel—a task that requires both money and time — a couple of luxuries that you don’t always have.
The campaign starts out at the beginning of July 1914—a period in which global conflicts are edging closer and closer towards the opening of a Great War. In the one month you have, you must not only learn how to helm the operations, but also shake enough hands to be able to withstand an ongoing war between countless nations and political parties. It isn’t an easy job by any means — but it’s one that, unfortunately, is yours.
It’s a tycoon game, clear as day, so don’t expect to be able to indulge in an environment that’s bursting at the seams with high-quality visuals and award-winning soundscapes. For the most part, the game makes a voluntary decision to restrict itself to a drab and somewhat monochrome palette, with the only exception being the murky colors of the makeshift battlefield that you hurl your creations onto every once in a while. Aside from these odd bursts of color, it’s mostly black, grey, and several shades of charcoal lining out the borders of the factory floors and UI menus. And that’s, you know, fine.
I will say this: Arms Trade Tycoon: Tanks can get a little overwhelming — especially when it comes to physically building the tanks and having them prepped for open warfare. Again, as there aren’t all that many words of wisdom from your peers, or any fleshy text boxes telling you what’s what and who’s who, it can wind up being a little daunting, and on occasion, frustrating, to say the least. And to restate the fact: this is an overview of the Early Access version, so we’re barely scratching the surface here, and thus, a minor portion of what’s to come in the coming weeks, months, and perhaps even years.
For what it’s worth, Tanks does run rather smoothly, with the exception of some rather annoying loading screens that pop up every time you enter a new section of the facility, mind you. Aside from that, there isn’t a lot to complain about, as it is, more or less, a run-of-the-mill, vanilla simulation game with an operational heart that functions the same way you’d expect it to. It is worth mentioning, though, that this isn’t a high-budget game, so it’s best not to embrace it as one.
When all’s said and done, we’re cutting into the fringe of an Early Access title, so for the time being, we can only really resort to nitpicking. With that said, even in its current state, it isn’t without its downfalls and limitations. Sure, there’s just enough content to let you get your feet wet, but given the fact that there are still so many doors left to unlock and expansions to unleash, it might be worth holding out on, if only until FunGi iron the last-remaining creases and flesh out its creation with a few more lashings of paint.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some strong bones to pick at here, and not to mention a sturdy collection of options to scrape away at, too. And while the test driving sections and the seemingly endless waves of loading screens are a tad excessive, they’re also not enough to spoil an otherwise short but satisfying experience. So, if you are something of a tank enthusiast, and have little else to do outside of hurling spanners at the carcass of a Ford Mustang in Mechanic Simulator, then you’ll probably enjoy getting your hands dirty in Arms Trade Tycoon: Tanks.
Arms Trade Tycoon: Tanks Review (PC)
An Okay-ish Start
It’s certainly no secret that FunGi still has a ways to go before Arms Trade Tycoon: Tanks is up to scratch and prepped for a full launch. With that said, there are some good bones to pick at here, and so while we can’t exactly comment on a lot of the material, we can say this: it’s showing promise — if only in the cracks of some of its better components.