Let’s take a look at … – M4 Tank Brigade

Early Access can be a great thing. It allows communities to experience a game before its complete, providing valuable feedback to the developer regarding improvements and ideas. As a reward for showing your support early on, you get the full game a discounted price and get to experience the process of a game being built. Everyone is a winner.

Unfortunately, there’s another side of Early Access. Sometimes games that look to have little hope of ever making an impact in a world enter Early Access, and the only thing you get is the experience of being let down, frustrated or wishing you hadn’t made that purchase. M4 Tank Brigade unfortunately falls into the latter. This game is riddled with poor control, graphical anomalies, collision detection issues, and sound choices that will make you want to punch your monitor they are so bad.

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In the tutorial you are provided with an abundance of information, which is a good thing. Everything from how to move, change positions from turret, to driver, to machine gunner, change squadrons, call in airstrikes, and hunt the enemy down. Though, while doing so, you’re forced to listen to some of the worst dialogue (content and quality) I have ever heard.

The voices sound like they were recorded in a basement, and try to push off the stereotypical ‘Drill Sergeant’ persona. The combination of “Hit any key to continue”, and “Way to go!” blasting through my speakers, because no one bothered to adjust the audio levels of the recorded dialogue, were almost enough to make me not want to finish the tutorial. Not to mention there are two different voices that are used. It’s confusing and just beyond bad.

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Things unfortunately don’t get any better in-game. The controls are very confusing, and once you’re in your tank, simple tasks such as driving, switching positions, and shooting are non-trivial; your tank continues to move and you can’t steer it. In what I expect is a WWII tank simulator, why would there not be multiple people per tank?

Trying navigate the mini map requires the mouse, but the mouse can’t be used in the tank. As a result you will find yourself moving your hand from mouse to the arrow keys, all while trying to aim the turret and keep your tank in position. It’s very unintuitive and overly complicated.

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The landscape is ridiculously barren. Between a few houses and anti-tank barriers, there is literally nothing. Not even trees in most cases. In addition, the collision detection doesn’t always work. You can run into a house and stop dead in your tracks, while other obstacles allow you to pass right through. The terrain is also pretty flat, with a few bumps along your path, are giant trenches that will put you in a huge bind if you find yourself in. They are best to be avoided unless you are taking cover from fire.

I did enjoy the explosions, and found the AI to be aggressive and intimidating; however, the enormous lack of polish, lack of an online community, and a host of better games already on the market make this game forgettable. It’s best to avoid playing this game at least till it comes out of Early Access. Maybe by then it will be an entirely different game, but who knows when that will happen if ever.

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Tl;dr M4 Tank Brigade is an ugly, irritating, unpolished action tank simulator that is currently overcharging for the content it provides. Graphically it’s about as barren as a desert, and the audio is awful to the point where you’d almost rather turn it off and just read the text provided. Controls are overly complicated and counterintuitive which may be the biggest issue with this game. I’m not sure what sort of crowd wants a game like this. If you are a huge WWII tank buff, or historian, you may find a way to enjoy it … if not, I’d recommend waiting till it’s out of Early Access before even considering it.

Rating – 3/10

Purchase – Steam £10.99/$14.99

Trailer – 

Let’s talk about … – Game Developers Unite for War Child

20 years ago Oasis, Blur, The Stone Roses, Paul Weller, Paul McCartney and many more created the first HELP album. It went on to raise £1.5M for War Child’s activities and helped protect children on the war-torn Balkans. Now, 2 decades later, the big players in our world are doing the same, and coming together in a unique ‘studio game jam’ to help keep Way Child’s activities strong.

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War Child will be providing a brief to the studios taking part, who together, across their various offices around the world, will come together to create the title in just 6 days. Some big players have signed up to the jam, including:

  • 343 Industries
  • A Brave Plan
  • Bossa Studios
  • Carbon Games
  • Creative Assembly
  • Curve Digital
  • Hardlight
  • Hinterland
  • Spilt Milk Studios
  • Sports Interactive
  • Team 17
  • Torn Banner

Together, these studios have sold well in excess of 100m games, so it’s certainly the dream team. Major technology providers including Unreal, GameMaker, and Unity are also backing the project by providing their tools to the teams at a ‘no cost and royalty free’ basis.

The game they will be creating will be called HELP: Real War is Not a Game, and will be releasing through Steam and other digital download platforms late in March 2016. With more announcement expected in the coming weeks, head to http://www.warchild.org.uk/helpgame for all the news, and follow War Child’s UK twitter for updates.

Let’s take a look at … – Valiant Hearts

Valiant Hearts: The Great War, developed by Ubisoft Montpellier, is a beautiful 2D adventure and puzzle game that tugs at the heart-strings.  Set in World War I Europe, it follows the adventures and war-time drama of five strangers who meet by chance:  Freddie, an American soldier, Emile, a French farmer, Karl, a German soldier, Ana, a field medic, and George, a British pilot.  Their sidekick canine Walt is a vital part of their success.

Much of the play time involves solving puzzles using items found in the scenery, such as sticks of dynamite or even a dirty sock, and often times choosing the necessary character to make the most of their skills.  The puzzles are not extremely difficult, but if help is needed, hints will be provided after a set amount of time in the form of carrier pigeons.  Other tasks include races and avoiding being hit by bombs and bullets.

The soundtrack is charming and perfect for the theme.  The art style is unique and interesting.  It is colorful and playful, yet captures the stress and sadness of the war.  The characters are amusing, both how they are drawn, and how they are animated- running, punching, jumping.  The landscape has a lot of depth despite being a side-scroller, with plenty of places to explore, and the game never gets dull.

One aspect of this game that stands out is that it provides real historical facts about World War 1 during game-play.  Players are prompted to open pages relating to true information about battles, life on the front and at home, and technology during the Great War all during game play.  These little snippets are even accompanied with photographs from the time period.

It’s hard to not feel emotion (often sad!) for the characters while playing this game, no matter how cute and amusing the graphics are.  This game has a well-deserved 96% approval rating on Steam.  It is also available for PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.  It won Best Animated Game at the 42nd Annie Awards and Best Narrative and the Games for Change awards in the 2014 Game Awards.

If you’re looking to play a story-based game with great graphics, wonderful soundtrack, and even the chance to learn some real historical facts, this is the game for you.

Valiant Hearts is available to purchase on Steam for £11.99 or your regional equivalent.