Developer: M2H and BlackMill Games
Publisher: M2H and BlackMill Games
Genre: Action, FPS
Platform: Xbox One
Age Rating: 16
Release Date: 24/07/2020
A code was provided for review purposes
Welcome to Tannenberg, Prepare for War
Online multiplayer games were once a rarity, but now however they are commonplace to the point of oversaturation. From PUGB and Fortnite to Call of Duty, Apex and more, there is a tried and tested formula that seems to reign supreme. So when I saw a code of an (as of that moment) unreleased online multiplayer called Tannenberg come along, I was certainly intrigued.
Now, it wasn’t that online multiplayer aspect that caught my attention, but rather, the setting. A WWI game, a part of history that video games tend to overlook in favour of WWII, Vietnam, or more modern fictional wars. I knew nothing more about the game when I agreed to take the code, and that is just the way I like it. So, how did I find my time in the trenches? Did I go over the top for glory or was I left with underpants on my head, pencils up my nose crying wibble in the hope of being sent home? You will have to read on to find out.
I Love the Smell of Mustard Gas in the Morning
Visually, Tannenberg took some getting used to, and even now I am not sure where I stand on things. I mean, visually the game looks good, but it lacks a crispness that I would have liked to have seen. It is there in some instances but at other moments, it feels like it slips away. I don’t mean in terms of complete quality changes driven by performance issues or system requirements. I simply mean some individual elements seem to have a better finish to them than others.
One thing the game does quite well is the audio. Given that this game is called Tannenberg, it should be clear (to historians at least) that the primary focus of the conflict is played out between the Russians and the Germans. So, to keep it authentic, the characters in the game yell commands in these languages. Now, not being a linguist, I had no idea what was being yelled at me. I remain unsure if they were giving me any form of followable instruction or merely pre-programmed lines inserted for authenticity.
However, the battle cries and blown whistles that signified a charge gave an authentic feel to the game, while the musical score was gentle, yet present. A selection of fitting yet rousing war anthems.
Too Much of a Good Thing Makes it Bad
There were a few things that prevented me from really enjoying Tannenberg to its fullest. One is the busy menus. There is a lot to see and tweak and select in the menus. Some things I accessed by accident and didn’t find again for some time. I get the idea of ambience, but sometimes you need to follow a simple approach. The screens were overcrowded with information, overpowered by strong background graphics, and to top it off, the text was tiny. I was often squinting to try and make out what I was selecting. This was not aided by the choice of font, which while fitting for the time and the feel, did a disservice to the title as a whole.
Another thing that annoyed me was that you picked your side based on their name but had no real idea what your ‘side’ looked like. So, when it came to the battles, it was hard to distinguish a friendly unit from an enemy. Yes, there were coloured dots above friendly team members, but they were not always visible, and would either not appear or were slow to appear. After half a dozen games you get used to it, but there would often be moments of confusion that lead to deaths that could possibly have been avoided.
Cry Havoc and Loose the Dogs of War
This game is frantic in many ways, but it is a disorderly sort of frantic. You have unlimited lives. You die, you simple respawn again and again. The game is not about eliminating the opposing players, but rather claiming land and/or sacking their headquarters. It’s almost like a first-person game of Risk where you are a pawn and the card you’ve picked from the deck is always the same. Sure, there are different terrains, but the objective remains the same.
This draws me back to my criticism of the menu. I couldn’t help but think there are far too many variables and options. It’s like going to a restaurant with two hundred items on the menu when really all you need is a few solid basics and a daily special.
Tannenberg Offers 1st Person Fun but Misses Variety
The game is a first-person shooter and I enjoyed the controls. They were simple and easy to pick up. Group, prone, jump and run. I was left a little confused by the weapons, as some characters seemed to have additional items like a sword, shovel or binoculars, while others merely had a single rifle. I will admit there was something fulfilling about charging down an enemy and skewering them with a bayonet, but for the rest, the aim took a little bit of getting used to. There were no crosshairs and it took some judgement to gauge the accuracy and range of the different weapons.
Given the references I have made to the game offering too many options and choices, one area they chose to ignore this philosophy was the one area that suffered as a result. The weapon you started the game with was the weapon you ended the game with. You could pick up ammo from specific locations, but there was no option to pick up discarded weapons or health packs. Even now as I write this, I’m unsure if I like this or loathe it, but it certainly feels weird.
Plenty of Achievements to be Hunted Down
There are no collectibles in the game. You can’t even change weapons, but there are a very high number of achievements, and for anybody who is a ‘hunter’ of these things, will certainly have their work cut out for them with this title.
Then again, despite the different maps and terrains you can fight on, there is no single-player mode; it is purely a multiplayer map and that lends itself to sinking many hours into the game. Each game lasts 40 minutes, or until you capture all the enemy resources. This naturally lends itself to extended gameplay sessions, which is no bad thing. Except, I could not help but feel Tannenberg was just missing something, to make it special.
It felt a little sluggish and forced at times. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but the game is just missing that something that makes it memorable or one that could actually stand a chance in the already overpopulated world it has entered.
Did I enjoy playing Tannenberg? Yes, I did. It is by no means a perfect game, and I truly believe it needs some tweaks and adjustments. Especially if it wants to have any sort of longevity in this heavily populated genre. There are titles that are slicker, fancier, and simply put better performing, and it will take more than a relatively novel setting to give it enough legs to stand on its own.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can buy your copy of Tannenberg from the Microsoft Store today.