Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (Adam Smith)

The release of the conquest mode for Gratuitous Space Battles caused me to reinstall and lose a couple of weekends plotting and planning. Conquest provided a campaign to sit alongside the standalone bouts of ship wrecking and, lo, it was good. A few months ago, unbeknownst to me, a clever sort who goes by the name Pendra on the Positech forums released a random galaxy generator, providing Endless Consecutive Contextual Gratuitous Space Battles. There was an update to the generator this morning, which Cliffski mentioned in the Twittersphere, and I’ve copied some details into the emptiness below.


Product Release - Valve
Gratuitous Tank Battles: The Western Front DLC is now available on Steam!

The enemy may be on the back foot, but this war is far from over. Gratuitous Tank Battles just got bigger and better with a 'western-front' campaign, and a whole host of slightly-historically-accurate new units. A completely new singleplayer offline campaign features eight new maps, 4 are restricted to 1939-1945 technology, meaning no mechs, shields or lasers, and the other 4 maps are set in the present day. New units are drawn from the WW2 era including Tiger and Panther tanks, Calliope Sherman tanks and other American / German hardware. Admit it, all your gaming life you've wanted to field an army of tiger tanks armed with pulse lasers, and that moment is finally here! The Germans may be on the back foot, but with American armor, American enthusiasm, and the encouraging words of General Patton ringing in your ears as you charge into battle, victory is assured. It will all be over by Christmas. Or so they say...

PC Gamer

Positech's inspired tower defence/strategy game Gratuitous Tank Battles has just been given an expansion, which returns the tank-obsessed title to its World-Warring roots. The DLC, available for a modest £4.84, adds new American and German WWII units, plus a new single-player campaign comprising eight maps.

For the unfamiliar, Gratuitous Tank Battles takes place in an alternate future where World War I never ended. We were quite big on tanks back then, and that's continued to the year 2114. The Western Front moves the action back to 1944, which means lasers are out - at least for some of the missions - and old, authentic military equipment is in. Positech's Cliff Harris elaborates:

"Half the battles are set before the introduction of newer weapons such as mechs and lasers and are fought purely with the weapons of the time. The final 4 battles add modern weapons to the mix. Surely you have always wanted to fight against tiger tanks armed with laser guns?" Yes - yes we have Cliff, but it's rude to spy on our dreams.

The Western Front is available to buy direct from Positech, while other portals such as Steam will get it soon. If you want to spy before you buy, there's a DLC trailer below.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (Adam Smith)

Gratuitous Tank Battles returns to the beginnings of the war that has raged for more than two centuries with The Western Front expansion. Eight new maps form the terrain for a new singleplayer campaign, the first half of which limits technology to the metal monstrosities of 1914-45, removing the lasers, mechs and shields of future times. Thankfully, the Tigers, Shermans and other tanks added to the game will find themselves embellished with the weapons of tomorrow, with the second half of the campaign allowing the use of advanced technology. The trailer details the expansion’s contents very well and The Western Front is available now for less than a fiver, with a second copy available at a 50% reduction.


Announcement - Valve
Today's Deal: Save 50% off Gratuitous Tank Battles!

Look for the deals each day on the front page of Steam. Or follow us on twitter or Facebook for instant notifications wherever you are!

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Gaming is generally an expensive hobby, but you can make it work on a budget if you search the right spots. The Humble Bundle 6, for example, opened the other day to offer six games for around six bucks. Since that clearly wasn't enough to tempt some hold-outs, today it added four more.

Today's new additions include Humble Bundle alums Bit.Trip Runner, Gratuitous Space Battles, and Jamestown, along with Wizorb making its Humble Bundle debut. Each game's soundtrack is also available.

These join Dustforce, Rochard, Shatter, Space Pirates and Zombies, Torchlight and Vessel, each with their own soundtracks as well, bringing the grand total up to ten games. The new additions are barred behind paying more than average, but the average as of the time of writing is less than six dollars. C'mon, cheapskate.

The bundle hit 220,000 purchases and $1.3 million in sales in its first week. You have one week remaining to grab a big bunch of indie games on the cheap.

PC Gamer
Gratuitous Space Battles

Fledgling space admirals can never have too many Flash Gordon effects and science-fiction noises. To that end, Positech Games has released a free update to its set-and-go tactical sim Gratuitous Space Battles adding direct unit control, shield shimmers, and shockwave ripples from explosions.

In the features video above, Space Battles designer and former shipwright Cliff Harris showcased how single units, squads, groups, and even individual weapons platforms receive order overrides alongside fire and movement commands. Although explaining direct control only works in single-player missions - campaign and online battles remain hands-off - Harris hopes the extra layer of control equates to stronger tactical options during a fracas.

And how about those shield and shockwave effects, huh? Both are carryovers from Positech's Gratuitous Tank Battles. Now, when my fleet spills its metal space-guts across its future nebula graveyard, I'll enjoy seeing my shields waver and shimmer under fire and my frigates distorting space as they blossom into spectacular fireballs.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (Jim Rossignol)

The point of Gratuitous Space Battles was that it was a fleet manager, not an RTS. So while you watched the space battles play out, you didn’t actually influence them – you were the admiral who had designed the ships and decided upon the tactics. And that made the actual battles gratuitous in terms of the gameplay. That, however, is no longer necessarily true. Cliff from Positech has sent word that he’s continued fiddling with the game, and has released a free patch to allow players to get involved with the battle-action. Cliff says: “It’s only an ‘optional’ feature, and only works in single-player offline games, but from patch 1.60 (which is now live, steam copies will be updated soon), the player can select ships and issue movement and fire orders mid battle, and even edit the ‘standing’ orders for ships in the middle of an engagement.” There’s a video, which explains it in a bit more detail, below. (more…)

PC Gamer
Gratuitous Tank Battles review

Gratuitous Tank Battles is the result of experimentation with the tower defence genre, yielding a strategy game where you attack as much as entrench. Experimentation with units means players can make their own machines and turn them on their foes. And experimentation with AI means the computer can use your creations against you in an endless arms race of tanks, mechs and laser-toting Tommies.

Fittingly for a world where the Great War never ended, very few units will make it through: hundreds will die in a pointless bloodbath to gain just a few inches of ground. But GTB’s fields of death are thrilling to die on, over and over again. The key is asymmetry. Playing a map as the defender gives you a traditional tower defence game, where you plop down turrets and defensive forces to try to stem the incoming tide. Attacking is more like the ‘reverse’ tower defence of Anomaly: Warzone Earth – you decide the order and routes of your units in the hope of breaking through the cyber-Kaiser’s defences.

But what really makes both sides of this top-down strategiser stand out is the unit customisation. Much like Positech’s previous game, Gratuitous Space Battles, you build your own units. Pick a hull and add whatever weapons, armour and engines you desire. Trenches full of riflemen giving you trouble? Put together a heavily armoured flamethrower tank to smoke them out.

But there’s a catch: any unit you design can also be used by the game’s superb, adaptive AI. So that flame tank you treasured as an attacker is now a rolling fortress on the defence. A long-range laser turret will fry an enemy before he gets close, but next time out you’ll have to deploy some heavily shielded mecha-men to take it down. You’re forced into a continual arms race with yourself and, in keeping with the WW1 theme, one you can never quite win.

The campaign is a little on the short side with only a handful of official maps available, but you can browse an abundance of user-made missions. Budding Field Marshalls can edit maps and upload their forces online, custom units and all, for anyone to defend against. The ease with which these challenges can be shared and downloaded extends your playtime immeasurably.

More problematic is the game’s tendency to crash faster than a biplane over Belgium. Starting or finishing a map, as well as saving and deleting units, can potentially result in a short sharp trip to your desktop. You’ll rarely lose any significant progress this way, but it still makes for a frustrating experience.

But these are minor issues that continuous updates will fix, and they don’t take the shine off an otherwise excellent game. Gratuitous Tank Battles is both challenging and strategic, and the clever use of AI and customisation results in a successful bout of experimentation.

PC Gamer
Best of British Indie Bundle

As part of Steam's regularly awesome Midweek Madness sales, the Best of British Indie Bundle packages seven indie games crafted by the skilled folks across the pond. Lasting until 4pm PDT Thursday, the $10 deal provides a sampler of excellent strategy and action timesinks, including Introversion Software's DEFCON, Alex May and Rudolf Kremers' Eufloria, Mode 7's Frozen Synapse, Positech Games' Gratuitous Space Battles, Puppy Games' Revenge of the Titans, and a double-whammy finisher of Size Five Games' Time Gentlemen, Please! and Ben There, Dan That! The value-candy gets even sweeter as most of the included games (with the exception of Gratuitous Space Battles and Size Five's goods) carry Steam Achievements for your hunting pleasure in addition to saving nearly $70 in your still-recovering-from-Summer-Sale wallet.

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