Review by mikaa
"A push in the right direction"
When I heard about Brothers in Arms for the DS, I could have cared less. Granted, the series has a somewhat loyal following on the consoles, yet portable shooter titles (even on the PSP) have fallen well below the bar that gamers are willing to tolerate. True, some really good ones do come along once in a while (Metroid Prime Hunters, Bionicle Heroes, and Call of Duty (PSP)), but for every good one, a few duds sneak in (Coded Arms PSP, Greg Hastings DS).
So it is understandable that, when I heard that Ubisoft was behind it, I cringed. After all, Ubisoft doesn't have the best reputation when it comes to Nintendo DS titles. Rayman DS, King Kong DS, and Bomberman DS (which was quite lazy compared to its "sequel") are among Ubisoft's more "infamous" releases, and anyone who has played them knows what I am talking about.
But then a light shown from all the grime of doom. A light that led me to think that maybe, just maybe, there was hope for the project. A game news site listed the developer for Brothers in Arms DS, and upon hearing the name "Gameloft," I had to play it.
Why Gameloft? Known mainly for their cell phone titles and ports, the company was one of the key (and really only) players for the long-since-dead Nokia N-Gage. First releasing Asphalt Urban GT on the DS at launch, and following up with a drastically improved sequel, Gameloft has a talented batch of programmers behind it (as the arcade-like Asphalt 2 shows).
So did they strike gold with Brothers in Arms DS?
As far as another cell phone to DS port goes, yes.
Yes, yet again, Gameloft takes a cell phone project and puts it on the DS.
This is not to say that the game is horrible. The graphics actually translate well to the DS, and though there is very little sense of speed while running (but plenty while driving a jeep), the particle effects of explosions, the crumbling of buildings when you blow them up, and the credible human body replications, all add up to a very nice visual presentation. To make things better, there is minimal fog (compared to some other FPS/TPS games on the DS (another cell phone to DS game, Deep Labyrinth, had a LOT of fog at times).
Oh, did I mention that Brothers in Arms is NOT a FPS (First Person Shooter), but a TPS (Third Person Shooter)? I must again praise Gameloft for this choice, as the mechanics of war shooting works so much better on the DS in this mode than a FPS would. Running up to sandbags defaults to a crouching position, running against a wall enables wall hugging, and sliding to a corner of said wall allows you to pick a target and start blasting.
The basic control setup is...well the only setup is the D-pad/face buttons for general movement, the stylus for aiming/grenades, weapon selection, and the L/R buttons for firing your weapons. Unlike other games of this type on the DS, there is no option for setting the sensitivity of the stylus control, and thus falls below Metroid Prime Hunters in terms of control options.
So the game looks great, and controls rather well. How about the actual game play itself? Shockingly, very good. Though most of the missions are short (though the difficulty ramps up rather quickly), they are a blast to play (ha ha), as one minute you are on foot blasting Nazis (just how many ARE there in the world, anyway?), the next you are driving a tank while blasting cannons on a train, and the next you are driving a jeep while trying to avoid all the artillery fire. Each mode controls rather well, though the tank moments are hurt by not only the sluggish nature of the tank, but also by any small object you come in contact with. Said objects tend to force you to build up speed again, no matter how fast you were going.
There are three campaigns, with several missions each. The biggest drawback to these missions is, again, they do tend to be rather short for each of them (again, due to that cell phone heratige), and once beaten, only higher difficulty modes offer a change in pace. Also, another huge drawback is the AI. One minute, they will be exchanging fire with your allies while they ignore your efforts to pick them off. And yet another minute will see the computer blasting you with a rocket while you plant a grenade on a tank, and the second you drop down, you die (and yes, this DID happen to me). The AI is not the worst I have seen in a shooter, but a few tweakings for the sequel would be appreciated.
Finally, the multiplayer. For whatever reason, no WFC support is to be found here, and only multi-card download play is supported. I can see the multi-card only, but the lack of WFC is almost a sin these days (considering that virtually every other third party is getting in on the Nintendo Online service...).
So is Brothers in Arms DS worth a purchase? If you don't mind the US$29.99 tag, it's a bargain. Takes a bit of practice to get used to the controls (unless you are already weened on Metroid Prime Hunters), but is otherwise enjoyable. If the price tag scares you off, then wait for it to drop. Just don't pass it up, as this is one game that you don't want to let pass you by.
Score: 8 of 10
+ Best Features: Graphics, Gameloft developed, controls, third person, array of missions, three campaigns
- Worst Features: Music, lack of WFC, Ubisoft's reputation on the DS, AI is wierd at times
* If You Liked: Bionicle Heroes (DS), Metroid Prime Hunters (DS)
+ Guilty Pleasure: Cursing when that rocket nails you while killing that tank, and other co-workers are curious as to what you are playing. Then want to know where you got the game.
+ (Great) Reality: After last fall's Asphalt 2, I hadn't heard from Gameloft on the DS. Seeing the fruits of their work, I am looking forward to whatever else they churn out, as they appear to have figured out how to make fun DS games...
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 06/25/07, Updated 11/20/07
Game Release: Brothers In Arms DS (US, 06/21/07)
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