The big issue with simulator games is that they also try to simulate vehicle controls. And since games don’t come packed with a real-life tank commander station to sit in, all the stuff that you’d easily do by flicking switches is replaced by endless keyboard shortcuts. But what if that wasn’t the case? Enter
Gunner, HEAT, PC! demo.
Gunner, HEAT, PC! is set at the end of the Cold War, which has, in this case, gone hot. You’re going to be commanding an armored vehicle. Try not to die.
And if you do die, you’ll seamlessly hop into another surviving vehicle of your force. Actually, you scan switch around them at any time. There’s not much need to do that as AI seems to be able to land their hits and doesn’t get stuck in a ditch that often.
That said, one of my missions ended with an Abrams stuck on this embankment due to a struck engine, and me riding around in the single left-over BRMD. I drove up close enough to pierce the back of turret bustle and cook off the ammo there (blowout panels work!), but couldn’t find enough places with thin armor to defeat a modern MBT with naught but a heavy machinegun.
But aside from the easy controls (if you can play War Thunder, you can play Gunner, HEAT, PC! demo), the game also features a very detailed damage system. This means that you’ll see T-72s blow their turrets. You’ll also be treated to Phoenix Command-level of detail when it comes to component damage and crew injuries. There is something special about being notified that the shrapnel from your penetrator was stopped by the tank commander’s brain. Or eyes.
Gunner, HEAT, PC! demo also simulates the different fire control systems in the tanks. Riding in one of NVA’s finest T-55s? You’ll have to dial-in the range yourself. Chilling in an M1? Lase the target and the barrel sets itself.
Oh, and as you switch from commander view to gunner (there’s no driver view, you can drive the tank from whichever position), you’ll get your commander shouting directions at you! The AI may sometimes be better at spotting than you are, so listen to what he says and the damage assessments he gives.
All in all, Gunner, HEAT, PC! demo was a fun romp. With a bit more tutorials and maybe some gamier systems that would, say, give you constant awareness of where your team members are (and if they’re dead), it would be a gem. Oh, and if they managed to put a real story campaign in it…