Saving Europe on the go with Ubisoft’s new portable shooter Brothers in Arms DS DS
June 18, 2007 – The Brothers in Arms DS series has received moderate commercial success in its previous iterations on consoles and the PSP, but believe it or not its biggest hit came on the cell phone. Brothers in Arms DS 3D amazed many with the graphical output it could get out of a mobile game and hopes to bring the same feel onto the DS.
Brothers in Arms DS DS puts you in control of a 101st Airborne “Screaming Eagle” paratrooper. You will control your soldier through 16 missions, across three different theaters of operations including Normandy, North Africa and the frozen German stronghold of the Ardennes region. The Brothers in Arms DS series is the Rainbow Six of World War II shooters, allowing you to control multiple squads in a strategic fashion. However, in the DS version, you will be the one taking the orders from a third person perspective. Fans of the series may be a little miffed by the decision to switch to a more run and gun approach, but given the nature of portable gaming this is an understandable sacrifice. Your missions will not take place just on foot either, as you will also take control of multiple vehicles such as a 4×4 and even a Sherman tank.
As with most DS previews the part you want to know about most is the controls. The control scheme has players running with the D pad, shooting with the left trigger, and aiming via the touch screen. They have even included an alternate control scheme for lefties having you run with the A,B,X,Y buttons and shooting with the right trigger. Just about every other action is handled with the touch screen or done for you automatically. Reloading is handled in much the same way as Touch of the Dead having you drag a clip of ammo to the middle of the bottom screen. Weapon swapping is just as easy; simply tap on your current weapon and it will open a menu of your other armaments, select one, and keep fighting the good fight. You can lob a grenade by clicking on the explosive and dragging it across a strength meter. As you are doing this, the game switches to a camera above the action to show where your grenade will land. Zooming weapons is presumably handled with a simple click of the stylus on the binocular icon. Driving vehicles will be handled via the touch screen as well, with no word yet on whether there will be D pad controls as well. The cover system is basic but effective with the game taking over once you get to close to an object you’re able to hide behind. Health is also handled the same as most shooters, with your life recovering slowly when you’re not being pumped full of lead.
The sound and graphics appear to be top notch for a DS title and any framerate issues will probably be worked out before release. Your character does look a little awkward from the waist down as he runs from objective to objective, particularly while strafing. This is a minor complaint considering all of the console-esque visuals they have put in (contextual building destruction, exploding tanks, and dirt plumes when a grenade explodes). There is also a cinematic camera that kicks in at appropriate times to show your surroundings from a sweeping perspective. The sound is on par with the amazing visual presentation; gunfire sounds like it should, explosions are suitably concussive, and if you stand to close when a grenade goes off you get the classic ear ringing noise. There is no word yet on whether there will be a score during the dramatic moments. During the in-game footage videos there was no discernable score but in the gameplay trailer there was an orchestral song playing. The voice acting sounded great as well with your squad mates pointing out specific locations of enemies like “on the balcony” instead of a generic “over there.”
Multiplayer will be included as well with Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch options for up to four people. There is also no information regarding connectivity between the DS and Wii versions.
Given Gameloft’s experience with Brothers in Arms DS 3D and Gearbox’s experience with FPS, this game is shaping up to be one of, if not the best, handheld shooters to hit the market so far. I, for one, am really looking to playing the full version of this game and even mixing it up with multiplayer with my friends.