The Girls und Panzer anime (Garupan) surprised many in 2012 because of its unlikely mix of middle school girls and tanks. Thanks to very nice characters and superb direction, the business around the IP was quick to explode, and eventually lead to the PSVita game we’ll be discussing today. This adaptation is modestly composed of story mode and Battle Royale mode.
The story mode obviously has you re-experience the scenario of the anime. From the training session in Ooarai to the breathtaking final against the Germans of Kuromori Mine, including the preparation match against St-Gloriana, up to you now to lead Miho’s iconic Panzer IV to the cup. This mode follows the anime very closely : every important scene of the anime is in it and the game is dubbed from A to Z.
To make you dive into it even more, BandaiNamco had a freakin’ lot of dialogs recorded : the Ⅲ突 (Santotsu) team keeps making historical comparisons, the Americans from Sanders are hysterical, Anzio’s Italian girls are whining about their lack of means, etc. All those little details which makes you feel like you’re watching the show, all the more that the publisher didn’t stop short from including entire sequences of the anime.
Adding to Miho’s tank, you can redo all the missions while controlling the other teams of Ooarai. It does bring some variety and enables you to rewrite the story to some extend : you can for example win the match against St-Gloriana (which is lost in the anime), and even give the final blow with Seitokai team’s 38t. That said and given all those episodes are distinct from each other but still similar, you can’t help feeling it repetitive.
The CoD-like gameplay is quite accessible and you will have fun immediately. The various tanks have their own characteristics, pretty different from each others, with convincing driving physics by the way. The Japanese Type-89 is fast, easy to handle, but underpowered, whereas the Ⅲ突 has high firepower but low maneuverability given its non-rotating tower. At numerous occasions, yo can swap between tanks of your team, which add a little bit of strategy and lets the game go beyond a simple shooter. All this makes Garupan undoubtedly fun to play, but it’s not without drawbacks.
The switch system is far from perfect. You have your main tank and you can switch only when the switch gauge is at least half-full. It wouldn’t be such a problem if your teammates’ AI was up to the task, but they’re higly liable to run from objectives, which haves you pick them at the wrong place, at the wrong time. Furthermore, the story moe being very close to the anime, it ends up extremely linear.
Fortunately, the Battle Royale mode makes up for that and it’s like a Christmas present for the series’ fans. You can actually organize your team as want, even in mixing together tanks from different schools. When your all-star team is ready, you can choose to take up challenges already included in the game, or define yourself who you want to battle against. This is clrearly the big point of the game, in the way that Ooarai’s opponents are extremely popular and many fans have probably been dreaming to have them in a central position.
Graphically, it’s uneven. The essential is done well, that is to say the 3D models of the tanks/characters (because the each team’s captain will peek outside of their tank from time to time like they’re assessing the situation), but the game environments look sincerely bad, even though Japanese urban area seem well rendered. While it’s cool to hear Katyusha’s song during the semi-final, in general the music lacks variety and punch.
This game adaptation of Girls und Panzer will delight the core fans and extend their enjoyment of the series. It is nonetheless not nervous enough for action games fans at large, who will probably stay on World of Tanks.