Review by sonicandtails

"Sob Stories"

Ah, Brothers in Arms. The name itself is enough to bring tears to eyes. Tears of joy, of course! The game series has been a terrific World War II strategic simulation, and proves that one can take an old idea and make it better. This of course, should carry on with the sequels, correct? Well, for some it may, but for this particular sequel...

...Things have changed.

The game takes place in WWII of course, fighting against the Germans. There are three missions to choose from when you start up the game, one having to be beaten to play the next. Only three? In a sense. Each mission is one big story part that spans across about 6 sub levels. The levels range from 5 to 12 minutes long. This makes the game seem short, and while indeed it is, unless you are able to get around it's quirky bugs and notice the littlest movement, chances are it will take you about a day to beat. You can also go back to levels after beating them and replay them on a harder difficulty, more on this later though.

Jumping right into the game, you find yourself of course, fighting Germans! Isn't that great? That's what WWII games are all about! Fighting Germans. But you can't do that every mission, every second...Can you? Oh yes you can, but to try and hide this little factor, every mission has several charges you must place on anti-air weapons and let explode, or shoot them to manually explode them later in the mission. This provides plenty of other things to do! Oh wait, no it doesn't. This provides an extra 10 seconds of different game-play per mission. So you go on through the missions, firing upon Germans, getting head-shots on Germans and tossing grenades at Germans while placing charges along the way, then it is realised; Where is your team? You have one every mission, and they are always there! To elaborate, watch as your teammates get blown away by a grenade because you blocked their exit, but moments later have them respawn! Wish this happened in real life, don't you think? But doesn't this contradict the "Where is your team?" I mentioned? No, because they are useless. A firefight can happen between the Germans and three of your buddies, but sit back and watch as not one bullet ever puts anyone to sleep. You have to step in on every fight and must take out enemies yourself. There is no squad based action either Brothers In Arms junkies, 'Your Squad Tactics Are In Another Castle' you could say. And what would a WWII game be without being allowed to drive vehicles? A worse game? Don't worry, this game lets you...If you consider them vehicles.

You get tanks and jeeps, one you can drive while your partner shoots, the other you drive and can shoot while your partner also shoots. This is all nice and dandy, but do they handle like cars at all? If cars during WWII were able to stop in 0 seconds flat and could turn on command, then sure, these cars are amazingly true to their real life counterparts. Except, that's not how it worked. Tanks are supposed to turn slow, right? Well, they turn 90 and 180 degrees in about .3 seconds, as with the jeep that can stop moving in a split second. Not only that, but they seem to like to get stuck to walls and glitch through anything possible. Not a very fun ride.

Ok, so far I have brought out the bad, let's bring out the good shall we? The sensitivity is near perfect in the game. Aiming is very easy, and shooting at your intended target is easier. Grenades work in an awkward way, but in the end work nice. Simply drag the grenade icon in the bottom right corner up to the desired spot as shown on the top screen and he will lob it to that position. Works nice, you'll never miss with this system of tossing. One thing I hate in WWII games is not knowing a grenade was tossed near you and it ends up killing you in the process. This is of course because you are not physically there and can't see or hear the incoming ball of death. Well, War Stories fixes that problem by having a red line, very visible follow the grenade and has a grenade icon on your hud telling you theres one in reach of hurting you. Nice touch, sure stopped me from throwing the system against the wall.

Ok, some good, alot of bad so far. How about some 'Eh, in the middle' features? The textures. They look nice. Well, if you consider 20x20 pixel solid colors making up one big texture look nice, then yea. At a distance, these look fabulous, up close though, and you notice the horrid squares that only a true Picasso could love. The game style isn't anything new, being a third-person shooter, but it is fairly new to the DS. Nothing like this has been done, or at least pulled off decently. It pushes the hardware a lot, and can be noticed with frame rate drops sometimes and even crashing during too much commotion, the latter being rare though. Enemy placement is fairly nice, not too evil, but every enemy and next point to go to has a giant marker above it that reeks of "SHOOT/MOVE AT ME", making you feel like you are three years old. The game is very guided and doesn't have anything extra to explore beyond the linear path. Several features work nice to an extent, one of them being able to zoom in, but you are forced to zoom out before moving again. Another one is that you can reload manually anytime, but unfortunately, it is obnoxious to have to pull the clip out yourself. Then you learn you have infinite ammo. This is nice, unless unrealism bothers you.

Back to problems again. Enemies will at times spawn wrong in example; the air, the ground, out of nowhere. It's fairly disturbing to see Duden von German halfway in the ground shooting at you. Animations are often screwy also, mostly when meleeing someone (You can melee backwards and still take him out! Joy!) and when jumping over objects. The AI is fairly stupid, where what they do is scripted and they will only stick to that until they die. If a German must shoot at one of your teammates he will do so even if you stand in front of him. If a German must grenade your tank, stand in his way and watch as he keeps on running trying to run through you as if he was some kind of Houdini. You can get stuck in objects like your enemies of course, don't jump over a sandbag and get shot in the process! It will only lead to your demise of being stuck in a sandbag for the rest of your life.

Then there are just done-on-purpose-annoyances. You cannot keep your guns from the last level, even though you have infinite ammo, why don't you? Swapping guns is easier said then done when you are in the middle of a firefight and you must tap the gun you want precisely. And the one I found myself cursing at the most was zooming in. Didn't I cover this? Yes, but this is a bit different. Tapping the button to get in and out is hard enough as it is, but why oh why couldn't they make it assignable to a button also? I would rather press R any day then tap the small button while trying to run around and aim at the same time. Speaking of button assignment, why can't you change the configuration at all? Sure, left hand support, but what if someone wanted to have the crosshairs movable with the ABXY and move the character with the DPad? Stop forcing what you feel is good upon the end-users game companies, it's not fair at all.

Now, all of the problems I covered doesn't mean it keeps the game from being fun. Well, it does for the most part at least. The game has pretty much two ways of going. Giving you open chances to shoot whenever you feel is appropriate, or seeming almost impossible. The latter rarely happens, but when it does, you will be stuck reloading the level over and over again trying to find out why you keep dieing.

Dieing. Oh boy, this is fun. Imagine this. You are on a bridge and you just planted some explosive charges and are told to advance forward. But say you forgot to plant one charge because the audible allies rarely tell you what to do and you must resort to the text that appears for five seconds? Whatever you do, do not continue your journey forward, because you will be struck down by the hands of God. Yep, you will simply be killed on the spot, not telling you what you did wrong, not warning you about doing it, and not even making it seem reasonable to die. You just fall flat on your can, and roll over to die. A sniper gunshot noise would have even worked, come on. Speaking of dieing, good luck EVER figuring out your health. When you get shot, blood simply fills the screen at points and then disappears seconds later not telling you what your health status is. Now that I scrape through my recollections of the journey through the game, I realize, I don't think I ever once died from bullet wounds, only by the angry fists of God or a run-away tank! Hell, I took grenades and tank rounds to the FACE and didn't die! What is this malarkey‽ Man, I should go try that out, then if anything bad happens, I can blame video games! I've heard about not fact checking most of our common media like books, but this is ridiculous.

Alright, that about sums everything up I have to say about the game. From what I said it seems like it deserves a 2/10, but it doesn't. All of the shortcomings and faults don't have to keep a game from being enjoyable or playable. The game is certainly playable and provides a fun experience when not encountering the bugs and sporadic difficulty changes. Short-lived, it is not worth the buy, and should be rented or borrowed from the poor sole that hopefully stole it from a store one day.

SOUND: 7/10 (Not really covered, but bullets and audible calls and commands really make up for the lack of music)
INGENUITY: 5/10 (Something new to play on the DS that isn't a SuDoKu clone or Mario Kart wannabe)
OVERALL: 4.7/10 (Rounded to 5/10)

Reviewer's Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Originally Posted: 06/07/07

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