PS2 REVIEW: BROTHERS IN ARMS: ROAD TO HILL 30

Brothers In Arms is deceptively simple in concept and one which surpisingly hasn't been done before in any of the numerous WWII games available. It leaves behind the trappings of scripted event heavy games like Medal of Honor in favor of an open-ended and nonlinear experience which captures the unpredictability of war. No two games play alike thanks to the incredible AI who act like real human enemies. They also die like real humans, meaning that they aren't given an unfair advantage. This is war. Sometimes they die. Sometimes you die. Sometimes your teammates die.

Other FPS like Halo, Doom 3 place you into the role of superhuman hero fighting to save the greater cause. Brothers in Arms is all about saving your own bacon and in doing so makes this war up close and personal. When shots zing by your head, when shrapnel blows up near you throwing dust, gravel and blood onto you it's hard to care about saving the world. You just want to get home alive.

The Brothers are the squad that you are placed in charge of at the beginning of the game. Like Full Spectrum Warrior which was a tactical shooter which left you in charge of dispelling strategies in real time, Brothers provides this gameplay element as well but it also allows you pick up a gun and shoot while sending your two teams from the frying pan into the fire. You are given two teams of 3 men each which are yours to direct. Send one on the offensive while keeping one back to bring up the defense. It's entirely up to you which places a large amount of responsibility on your shoulders.

Each mission provides its own objectives and your actions will determine which side wins. If you are the better tactician you just might make it. If you send your men to their deaths there is no way you're going home alive. This isn't Rambo. You are hopelessly outnumbered at the best of times. However if you do manage to survive awhile, you'll be amazed at how invigorating it is. It is the overwhelming odds that provide Brothers in Arms with its addictive quality. Even when you have to try again, the enemy AI changes it up so no battle is ever the same way twice.

The message boards will be lit with gamers arguing graphics vs. gameplay. While Gearbox managed to get the specials effects to a tee - particle effects and explosions are incredible - the character models are strangely chunky and some might say downright fugly at times. This is in direct relation to the incredible amount of time spent on weapon models, which are accurate to a fault. If you can overlook its lack of cosmetic beauty and enjoy the game for what it is, you will be a happy camper indeed.

Where Brothers in Arms gets most things right, the hamfisted dialogue and heroic oneliners don't fit at all in a game that strives to achieve this much realism. It's not all bad but I found more than a few cringe-worthy moments that didn't fit mesh with the rest of the game and I found it pulled me out of the reality and reminded me that I'm not only playing a game but I'm playing a game with really hackneyed dialogue.

Ignore the voiceover work if you wish, but do the same for the soundtrack at your peril. Of course I know there wasn't an orchestra playing at Normandy, but it does enhance the overall "movie" atmosphere. Turn it down if you want the real war experience, but hats off to the composer. It's fantastic music.

Brothers In Arms doesn't try to be like other WWII FPS games and that's a very good thing because even though the subject matter has been done to death, the game feels fresh and exciting. The multiplayer game is decidely weak and honestly not even worth mentioning, but the single player experience is worthwhile enough to camp in a foxhole while risking dysentery, footrot and a bullet between the eyes. This is NOT your usual run of the mill war game and if you give it the chance it deserves you'll see that I speak the truth.

Preview by Chris

Gearbox Software has been known for their ports of other games. Now after three years of research and hard work they are getting ready to bring out an FPS game that will make the gamer think while playing. While FPS games are very popular, most have the same basic theme that is run and gun and that is about it. Of course there are a few games that are the exception to the above statement. However, Gearbox wants to place the player in situations based on real things that happened in the time period and make the gamer think, not just shoot their way through. The game will take players through real historic battles. Of course the names will be changed and a few events will be altered to fit the storyline.

So far the game looks impressive and this may have to do with the fact they took actual photos and real Intel taking from aircrafts. The result is a stunning life-like 3D environment. People who have seen the early beta version were impressed by the details and facial expressions on the characters seen in the game. Also Gearbox is in talks with some of the top voiceover talents right now to finish the product. As far as the basic gameplay goes it will be a team-based type and the controls will be set-up to allow orders and movements of your team in a quick and easy way. A few games that have tried this type of control system before wound up just being hard for the gamers to get the hang of. The end results usually ended up in the player dying several times and becoming frustrated. Gearbox is trying to improve the controls to avoid this so more time can be on the game and not worry about the controls.

Gearbox is also making the AI react as real players would. A bold statement yet, it looks like they are on their way to making this a true fact. Of course we all have seen a boom in war based FPS games. This one is focusing on more of the realistic things that are needed to win a battle. While telling a story at the same time, the combination is certain to make this one a game to watch for. The game will be released for the PS2, Xbox and the PC right before Christmas. I expect that more screens and news will be unveiled at E3 and of course we will update you with any new info. For now take a look at the screenshots and look at the detail of each screen. It looks like Gearbox is on the right track and this one will have fans of war games waiting to get their hands on this one.

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System: PS2
Dev: Gearbox
Pub: Ubi Soft
Released: Dec 2004
Players: 1 - 4
Review by Vaughn
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.5
GRAPHICS
4.0
CONTROL
4.5
MUSIC/FX
4.0
VALUE
3.5