Let me begin by saying that this is the first Brothers in Arms game I have ever played. I am aware of other console releases but it did seem odd to me that this franchise with its strong PC following would also be made as a console game. If you’re looking for a twitch shooter or a shooter with cool super powers then this is not the game for you As Brothers in Arms is very much a tactical shooter, but in the end what that really means is that your objective as the player is trying to figure out how to exploit the enemy and outthink enemy AI.
As far as World War II shooters go this is certainly not the ugliest. If it weren’t for a few pops and blurs, particularly in the cut scenes, then I would dare to say this is the prettiest WW II FPS I’ve ever played. The environments were varied and interesting and the game takes you from inside buildings, to farm fields, to town streets at a speed that would make you wonder how these guys were moving around so fast if it wasn’t for the jeep that makes an appearance in the majority of the cut scenes. Speaking of the cut scenes, expect to be sitting the controller down for a bit because it felt like they made up at least one quarter of the full game play time. They range in length from short to medium lengths and do a good job of advancing the story.
The game features the usual array of WW II weaponry which you’ll either start with or pilfer from the bodies of dead Nazi soldiers. However don’t bother looking for any other weapons than the ones you have as the gameplay calls for lots of sniping and firing from behind cover. The M1 garand is absolutely vital in those situations and if you do end up spending all your ammo then picking up a Kar 98k is the next best thing with its higher damage it can take out most enemies with one or two shots.
If you’ve played a WW II shooter before then the weapons found in the game won’t surprise you with the exception of the pistol that the main character carries which is so valuable to the story line that it can’t be swapped for a different weapon. Despite it obviously being a back up weapon and it not being able to be dropped I was surprised it did not have unlimited ammo but I guess if that were the case most players would just go through the game only using the pistol. A word of advice, don’t use the pistol. The damage is weak and it is very inaccurate and if you are in a situation where it is your only useable weapon then you’ll probably die soon anyway. Aside from the hand held weapons you get to drive around in a nifty tank that has both a machine gun and the turret that will devastate Nazi and take them out with a few shoots.
Now that you’re a little familiar with the weapons in the game let’s talk about what you’re up against. Most missions call for you to take out heavy artillery guns which are usually guarded by a squad or two of German soldiers. These guys dig in and often set up machine gun nests making it extremely difficult to get around them to your objective and since the game is not an open world but a much smaller enclosed sandbox you’ll need some help taking the Germans out. This isn’t an easy task since hundreds of enemies are in your path and they are much better armed and well dug in. The job is made easier though by a very simple control scheme for giving orders to your squad. The squad is broken up into specialized three man teams and ordering them is as simple as selecting a group pointing to a spot and giving an order. If you place your crosshairs behind cover they’ll take cover and if you place them over an enemy position then they will fire for effect pinning them down so you can flank. That’s how it’s supposed to work in theory but in my experience it is much easier to order you guys to take cover and suppress fire on the strongest entrenched enemy while to snipe your way from the closest to the farthest. Boom! Headshot! The “action cam” slows the action down while your bullet penetrates the enemy’s skull and turns his brain into ground beef. That may sound disgusting and it does get kinda gross but like my favorite Lion King quote says “Slimy, yet satisfying”.
There were two things that didn’t cross my mind while playing the single player campaign and those were the unlockables (including achievements) and the online multiplayer. When I finally did get around to paying attention to these unnecessary pieces of the game I wasn’t surprised to find nothing new or interesting. Well that isn’t true, during multiplayer matches you get to look at a map of the level your about to play instead of a picture of the map, which is something more online multiplayer FPS should feature, but lag, dumbed down graphics, and inconsistent level design made it very uninteresting to look at and frustrating to play. None of the the achievements are exciting or different. Every time I came across a killroy scrawled across the side of a building I was reminded how much I didn’t care about finding those to unlock content.
The games sound track fit’s the game very well and adds to the sort of cinematic atmosphere it tries to achieve and the voice acting is very good and if not for the jerky animations and uninteresting dialog I might have been able to enjoy the cut scenes especially with the kind of emotion these guys can reflect in their voices. The weapon sounds weren’t typical for the WW II genre of shooters and while the tones seemed a little different from others I heard they were familiar enough that it didn’t really bother me after the first ten kills or so.
If anyone plays the latest Brothers in Arms game it is most likely because they are a fan of the series and not because they really wanted to play a new WW II FPS. While I never played a game in the series before I got the gist of the story but I didn’t really care about the characters so the cut scenes were more like a break between missions than the driving force behind my compulsion to play the game. I guess the bottom line is if you want a tactical WW II experience that’s heavy on the story then this game is right for you but if you want to play a twitchy shooter and just want to pwn noobs online then just stick with CoD 4 or one of it’s many clones coming out this year.
Brothers in Arms is a very cinematic game with interesting level layouts that force the player to think in tactical ways that no other series have been able to duplicate. Intelligent AI and visual appealing environments make the the main story very appealing but the tacked on multiplayer is a waste of time.