The World War II theme in videogames is one of the most popular. It seems that every month a new war game comes out, and many times it’s centered around WWII. Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 is the newest addition. While there have many well designed games set in this historical era, it can be argued that Call of Duty is among the best WWII action games ever. However, it lacks an important gameplay element: squad-based action, while Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 has squad-based action and more.
Technically, the player models are the ugly ducklings of the game. The average tilting towards poorly designed player models does weaken the experience. The enemies and your squad look like GI Joe action figures more than realistic soldiers. It’s a shame, because aside from that, the game offers good graphics in the environments, weapons and vehicles. It’s ironic that the war took place in the middle of such beautiful landscapes, and the game captures this sentiment. The ace under the sleeve for the graphics is the vehicles and weapons, which look very realistic. The tanks and trucks are very convincing and menacing due to that level of realism. There are some details that can’t be overlooked in any game. For example, when bullets hit the ground in front of you, dirt bounces towards you and covers part of the monitor (you won’t need a cloth to clean your monitor, don’t worry), and then brushes off. This is something that more games are beginning to include; most recently Star Wars: Republic Commando does it with great results, and Brothers in Arms adds to this powerful and novel approach to pulling the player into the game’s world.
There are few problems here. Brothers in Arms does an outstanding job running head-to-head with the previous mentioned competition. Being a squad-based game, you’ll often hears the shouting of your “brothers” when you are in danger (or they). It’s often thought that the sounds of war are those of guns, bullets, and explosions, but a big part of war is the communication between people, the participants of the event, and the ones that drive it. In terms of strategy, communicating with the squad is very important, and in terms of immersion to the experience of war, it’s a must. To create a battle-based setting and tone, the player must also have aural experiences aside from the visual encounters. The vehicles in the game not only look good, as mentioned before, but sound incredibly realistic too. When you hear a tank coming near, you know you are in trouble and that’s when the rush kicks in. When you hear bullets passing by, or grenades exploding near by, anxiety begins to take over. Brothers in Arms delivers one of the better sounding war games in recent months.
Its approach to the genre is what makes Brothers in Arms different from other games with the same theme. It’s a hybrid of shooter action and squad-based action. Not all gamers may welcome the simulation factor that squad-based games incorporate. The keyboard and mouse layout PC games have to use, because there’s not always a game pad available, can be both an advantage or disadvantage. In the case of Brothers at Arms, it’s an advantage because having more keys can help the task of choosing strategies more easily while on the go. The way commands are issued by the gamer resembles that of the sleeper classic Black & White, by using almost entirely the mouse and the keyboard is more of a support controller. It’s just a matter of adjusting to the interface. After playing Brothers in Arms a while you’ll feel right at home with the layout and interface, and that’s when the game is more enjoyable. This adjustment shouldn’t take too long, especially if you are a veteran of the genre. You have at your disposal some of the strategies and moves that are actually used by the army, and the soldiers in your squad perform them realistically. Unlike many war games, the people you give orders to are not dumb puppets. If you send them into the fray of battle, they will not go running straight towards the line of fire. Instead they will choose their actions in a careful fashion but without disobeying your orders. Unless your commands are unreasonable, they will do what you say in the most effective way possible. They depend on your orders, but they still have brains.
Also, if you get confused or things get a little tough, don’t fret. The game offers a mode that can help out during times that you feel lost. The situational awareness mode offers a view of the map, while pausing the action, so you can analyze enemy positions and possible gather points or retreat routes. It’s another feature that adds even more strategy to an already heavily strategic game.
All this strategy and interaction with your squad translates to the multiplayer as well and that gives the player the opportunity to enjoy a very well rounded and intelligently designed multiplayer game. The same commands can be used, and each gamer will have a squad (or two) to control. Each time you get killed, you will take control of another member and so on. This provides the player with the opportunity to have less respawns because you have more than one character, unlike most other multiplayers. The multiplayer experience is refreshing, and there are few games that can boast of possessing such grade-A multiplayer design.
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One’s first response, after hearing what the theme of the game is, may not be promising. Gamers are less excited every time a new WWII-themed videogame is released, but there are times when developers go that extra step that can make all the difference. Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 is one of those games that adds something to a genre and thus the entire industry. So, even if you are weary of the WWII theme, don’t be so disillusioned by the overabundance of WWII games that you let this one elude you. Never choose a game by its cover.