War Never Changes

HIGH It reminded me how great Battlefield I and V were.

LOW It looks like an N64 game exclusive to KB Toys.

WTF Am I going to hell for laughing at the noises enemies make when they die?

The Battle of Tannenberg was a real conflict between Russia and Germany that occurred over the course of a few days near the start of World War I. I’ve learned a lot about it thanks to M2H’s Tannenberg, a first-person shooter set during this period.

Facts are shared during the loading screens and menus, and it was interesting to learn how Germany was able to intercept Russian transmissions and figure out exactly where the Russian army would be, or that most of the battle was fought on what is now a part of modern-day Poland. Unfortunately, reading facts is more enjoyable than playing the game.

Tannenberg is a squad-based shooter in which two teams of 20 are trying to complete certain goals, depending on the mode. Built on historical accuracy, this shooter uses weapons from the era to truly capture what World War I was like. It isn’t focused on bombastic action or running and gunning like most shooters, but rather, patiently moving towards different goals and quietly trying to advance.

I respect the attempt to immerse players in historically-accurate game design, but the visuals completely take me out of the experience — it’s just atrocious to look at thanks to muddied graphics and textures that don’t load right. The graphics are so poor, Tannenberg would have been low-rent on the PlayStation 2. Sure, being an early-access PC game ported to consoles probably doesn’t help, but man, it’s rough.

The maps fare just as poorly. They all look like they were assembled with assets from other games and feature oddly-placed props like dead cows and overturned farming equipment that look hilariously fake. Don’t get me started on how poor the weather effects are.

While Tannenberg looks rough, that’s not necessarily a dealbreaker. I can name plenty of games that offer subpar visuals but boast great gameplay to compensate. Tannenberg is not one of those games.

Taking cues from the Battlefield series, the main game mode (Maneuver) sees players taking control of three points on a map. The red team and blue team rotate between defending or attacking, depending on who’s leading. It’s simple stuff and has been done by many other games, many times before.

Unfortunately, the speed of similar games is not found in Tannenberg thanks to the absence of vehicles. It’s clear much focus is being put on being in the trenches, but matches become slogs without an easier way to get around. Tannenberg also lacks anything that can dramatically shake up the tide of the battle — there are no destructible environments or surprise events that might force players to improvise or change tactics. Part of what makes a large-scale shooter so memorable is seeing crazy things like tanks flipping around or players coordinating to topple structures. Tannenberg feels positively tame in comparison.

Traversal is also a pain thanks to numerous glitches and bugs that mostly involve clipping through walls or not being able to leave a turret after using it. I was stuck in a mounted gun for five minutes because I simply could not get off of it. Thankfully an enemy killed me and I was able to respawn away from the gun, but it’s frustrating to see issues like that here.

I understand that much of WWI was fought in the mud and it probably didn’t look like a Hollywood blockbuster, but I can best describe my time with Tannenberg by saying that it never felt like I was in the middle of a war — instead, I was more often wandering through an empty battlefield trying desperately to not quit in the middle of a round.

But at least I learned some history!

Rating: 3.5 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is published by Blackmill Games and developed by M2H. It is available on PS4, XBOX, and PC.  This copy was obtained via the publisher for review and was reviewed on PS4. Approximately 15 hours were played online. 10 hours were spent playing against bots. There is no single-player.  

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated for Blood and Gore, Language, and Intense Violence. The game is a first-person shooter set during World War I. Online battles can get pretty intense with plenty of blood, gore and violence. The general atmosphere of the game is also pretty heavy. Recommended for older teens who understand the historical contest.

Colorblind Modes: Colorblind modes are not present in the options menu.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game does not offer subtitles during gameplay. Before each match there are videos and loading screens that have text, but the matches do not. All the dialogue is in different languages and the text that telegraphs information like score cannot be resized. The game is not accessible.

Remappable Controls: No, the game does not offer remappable controls but there are presets and control diagrams. The y-axis can be inverted.

Cj Salcedo
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