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Game Info:

M4 Tank Brigade
Developed By: iEntertainment Network
Published By: iEntertainment Network
Released: August 17, 2015 (Still in Early Access)
Available On: Microsoft Windows, Macintosh
Genre: Military Simulation, Action
ESRB Rating: T
Number of Players: Single player and online multiplayer
MSRP: $14.99

Thank you iEntertainment Network for sending us a copy of this game to review!

M4 Tank Brigade is a World War II tank combat simulator. You control the tactical side by moving and positioning your units on the map. You can also switch to first person and manually drive a tank around. Additionally at your disposal are air strikes and artillery barrages that you can call forth from the map. The game allows you to play as both Axis and Allied forces through various campaigns and locales. There's also an online mode where you can play in campaigns with and against other people; there's also a leaderboard. M4 Tank Brigade is currently in Early Access and available on Steam.

The first thing I noticed about this game is the insanely in-depth options menu. I was most blown away by the sound options. It seems like there's a slider for every individual sound in the game. There are also more control settings then I think I've ever seen in a video game before. I only used keyboard and mouse, and I didn't have any control issues. For all these options they also have a brief explanation of every setting, which is something I wish more games did. 

M4 Tank Brigade
Highlights:

Strong Points: Solid tactical tank combat; easy-to-use map; numerous game settings
Weak Points: Graphics are ugly; sounds are poor quality; campaign is repetitive; the game has been completely abandoned by the developer
Moral Warnings: Tank warfare violence; able to play as Nazi forces

It's a shame the actual graphics and sounds are of such poor quality. All the models have a minimal polygon count, the textures are extremely low resolution, and the ground textures look stretched. There's very little in the way of color in this game. They put a lot of effort into making tons of historically accurate vehicles, but they all look ugly. There are very few buildings with collision, yet the tanks are programmed (poorly) to drive around them. So you end up watching your tanks zigzagging through a small town while clipping through every other building. The sound quality isn't much better: nearly every sound effect has a crackling sound and there's no music worth mentioning. The only voice acting exists in the tutorial, and it is laughably terrible. 

The crux of the gameplay is in the tactical map.The tactical map shows the entire battlefield including the units you control as well as any enemy units you are in line of sight with. From this map you can control all the tanks in your unit and position them as you see fit. It updates in real time as you move your troops around and enemies come in sight. Besides using the map, you can individually drive and shoot with any tank you want. The gameplay is overall solid but not nearly as strategic as the game suggests. Most of the time I simply took the high ground and was able to defeat the enemy tanks, even on the hardest difficulty. The campaign, while lengthy, offers very little diversity of missions. Your only objectives are to assault or defend a circular portion of the map.

All the game's features are explained in the tutorial but it is surprisingly hard to find. When you start the game there's an option for New User Interface and Classic Interface with New User Interface set as default. Swapping between the two options appears to do nothing. So I left it on New User Interface, and went into the Campaign; there I stumbled through the first few missions. It was only later when I decided to investigate Classic Interface again that I discovered what it does. When Classic is selected, the Campaign list will display the tutorial at the top. When New User Interface is selected the tutorial is hidden from the campaign. I have no idea why this feature was implemented this way; it seems completely backwards. I would recommend playing the tutorial before doing other missions because it does explain the controls and features fairly well. Do know that it also suffers from extremely cheesy voice acting. 

M4 Tank Brigade
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 54%
Gameplay - 14/20
Graphics - 3/10
Sound - 2/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 88%
Violence - 7/10
Language - 8.5/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8.5/10

There is an online option for this game. In fact, on the Steam page, it implies that eventually, after enough features are added, the online would cost money. Don't worry though, I don't see that ever happening. I logged into the online mode and was initially surprised by the activity. At the time of writing this review, there are seven other people online, which is both surprising and extremely sad. There are currently three battles available, an "Easy Target Practice" and two timed campaigns. I was able to join only one of the campaigns, but never ran into another person. 

This game is still in Early Access and I don't think that will ever change. It was brought onto Steam in August, 2015 and the last updated is from November, 2015. I'm going to make the bold assertion that this game has been abandoned. In fact the first two posts on the Steam discussion page for this game both ask about updates and wonder if the game has been abandoned. I checked out iEntertainment Network's website and social media pages, and it looks like they have completely moved on from this game. All their posts are about newer titles. As a result, I simply cannot recommend an abandoned game, even to those who love its particular genre. Games like this are why Steam Early Access has such a bad reputation.

This is the kind of niche game I would usually recommend to fans of the genre. Sure the graphics and sounds are bad but the gameplay is decent, and there's a lot of content to go through. The only moral warnings are the tank-on-tank violence and the ability to pick Nazi forces. There's no story though, and you can exclusively play allied forces if you want. With that said,  because the developer promised future updates and completely abandoned the game I cannot recommend this to anyone. Steam Early Access has gotten a terrible reputation for being a wasteland of garbage, and this game is one of many reasons why.

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About Us:

Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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