Tanks for the memories.
Are you sick and tired of shallow games? All the endless runners, the mindless shooters, the twitchy racers? Are you keen to try your hand at strategy, but are bored of the rush tactics typically employed in the RTS genre? Well then, folks, you may just find a lot to love with Tank Warfare: Tunisia 1943. It’s a solid strategy excursion with grand ideas and a steep learning curve, and is the latest in a long line of tank warfare games by the Ukraine-based development house Graviteam.
The game focuses on the lesser-known battles between the Allies and the Axis forces in World War II: namely, their conflicts in the North African country of Tunisia. Terrain in the country’s northern region is mountainous, while the southern part is arid, giving way to the Sahara. This climate makes tank warfare particularly unique and challenging, and it’s this dynamic that is the groundwork for this war-drenched title.
Right on track
The game takes on two distinct modes. One is more recognizable to veterans of real-time strategy, placing players in the heart of battle as it occurs and giving the affair a far more gritty, hand’s-on approach. It’s here that players will be able to select units and dispense orders in a familiar fashion. The other mode is Operations, which disperses with the more graphical approach in favor of a streamlined, simplistic, strategic flowchart that has more in common with an Excel worksheet than a typical game interface.
Aligning itself more on the tactical side of the strategy spectrum, this title has players keeping an ever-watchful eye on the most minute details. Every attack’s pros and cons need to be weighed, from calculating trajectories of fire to making sure your fuel reserves aren’t in danger of being depleted. You even need to be remain mindful of the weather conditions, because factors such as wind speed and limited visibility are present and will have adverse conditions on your campaigns. You’ll begin to appreciate what actual historical commanders have had to deal with and you’ll sympathize them, even though you’re enjoying yourself.
We be rollin’, they be hatin’
A big part of the game is in learning how to actually play it. There’s a campaign for each side, Axis and Allied, but by and large a large bulk of your time will be spent in the tutorials and practicing. It also seems as if the tutorials on offer are either not sufficient or aren’t explained properly, because I found myself having to consult other sources online to clarify some of the points made. Once you’ve come to grips with its many nuances, you’ll realize that the content is actually quite limited. Extended campaigns, or some DLC, will go a long way to putting your hard-learned skills to better use.
Nonetheless, as somebody who has an active interest in warfare, I appreciate the attention to detail and the dedication to historical accuracy. It’s just that this game isn’t the sort of thing I’d come home to play after a long, stressful day at work. If you enjoy insane amounts of micro management and are committed to learning it, you’ll find Tank Warfare to be quite a charming bundle of a war game.
As far as visuals go… I can’t say that Tank Warfare: Tunisia 1943 is too impressive. There’s nothing objectively long with its presentation. Models are well-crafted, troops are defined, terrain is acceptable, and the audio serves its purpose. It’s just that it’s all kind of boring. Things feel incredibly generic. It’s also somewhat dated, like a game that would have been showcased ten years ago or so. Still, since there’s nothing obnoxious in the package, I can’t complain too much. The muted tones and gritty, matter-of-fact details merely add to the somberness of the war the game portrays.
Tank Warfare: Tunisia 1943 really stretches the limits on what is considered typically “fun” gameplay. The complexity of its interface and the endless nuances to learn and master mean that there’s a massive learning curve to surmount, and even then, it never really lets up on squeezing out as much brain juice as it can from players. Nonetheless, those who are willing to invest the time and effort into the game will find a very deep and engrossing experience, and will come away from it feeling like most other games are nothing but childish excursions. It comes recommended, but mainly to a very specific audience with a fascination for war and complicated thinking. Roll on out over hereabouts to snag a copy of your very own.
Final Verdict: 3/5
Available on: PC (reviewed); Publisher: Strategy First Inc. ; Developer: Graviteam ; Players: single-player. ; Released: 1st of May, 2017.
Full disclosure: this review is based on Steam code for Tank Warfare: Tunisia 1943 given to Hey Poor Player by the publisher.