Review by HateAndPlague
A Solid, Though Not Mindblowing, Action Game
As well all know, the Nintendo DS has the potential to be a great FPS system due to the touch screen being able to take the place of the mouse. Yet, for whatever reason, we haven't really seen many FPS or similar games on the DS, with the most notable ones being Metroid Prime: Hunters and Bionicle Heroes; unfortunately, Brothers In Arms DS isn't an FPS, but it's a similar sort of action game.
Brothers In Arms DS is a third person action game originally ported from cell phones, where it was known as Brothers In Arms 3D. This has caused some controversy, with people complaining about it being a cell phone game, etc., but it's not an uncommon thing to do - after all, Deep Labyrinth also originated on cell phones.
That aside, the important part is how the game plays. I'm happy to report that it's quite good. I must confess, I had never played a Brothers In Arms game before this, as I never really cared for WWII theme shooters, but I'm quite impressed with this release. All of the on foot action takes place over the shoulder, with the occasional first person view when you're zooming with a sniper rifle. You run about, accomplishing mission objectives which mainly consists of killing any enemies that come your way.
While on foot, you have a relatively limited range of weapons, but it's effective no less. You have your standard rifle, which will be your best friend for much of the game, as it's the only weapon you will always have and it's ammo is unlimited. It takes roughly a few shots from your rifle to kill an enemy, depending on where it's placed. You also have a sniper rifle and a bazooka, the former being good for sniping enemies and the latter good for getting rid of tanks, buildings and other such things. This all works in pretty much the standard way - point and shoot, reload when your clip runs out, and go on.
There's also the grenade system, which is rather intuitive. You have an icon on the bottom right of the touch screen which you tap and drag upwards. This will cause you to go into something of an overhead mode, where you drag a cursor along the ground to determine how far you'll throw the grenade. This works out really quite well, as it allows you to have accuracy with your grenades, rather than just chucking it and hoping it actually works. It may not be the most realistic, but in the midst of all of the action, it certainly saves you a lot of headache. By running up to tanks, you can touch an action button that will have your character climb up onto the side of the tank and throw a grenade in.
Then there are the vehicles. You'll spend a hefty bit of time in vehicles, so it's important that they work well. The tanks pretty much work the same way as you do on foot - you move around, blasting stuff and so on. The controls are essentially similar to being on foot, but now you may run over trees, enemies, etc. The 4x4 controls are a bit different, however - more focus is placed on the vehicle, which drives quite fast. Another character will be on the back, manning the gun while you speed around, taking out enemies and so on. Turning fast can make your 4x4 spin out a little bit and cause you to lose control. This all works out rather well, all things considered.
Overall, the gameplay is pretty solid. Everything works fairly well, the action is good and the game moves at a pretty quick pace.
The graphics are a mixed bag. On one hand, they look rather nice overall. You can see a pretty good distance, the buildings and terrains look good, the characters and vehicles also look good. The explosion effects work out nicely, and the game doesn't slow down or suffer any real frame rate drops (this was a concern people had when they first saw the trailer) even with a lot of action going on.
However, at the same time, you do tend to experience the same issues that most 3D games of this nature have, such as the camera getting caught in an object and keeping you from seeing yourself and so on. Typically, it does not become a huge issue, and the game looks pretty good and plays pretty well otherwise.
This is where the game is hurt a bit. The controls for Brothers In Arms DS are largely a mixed bag. On one hand, while you have the previously mentioned grenade controls that are very nicely done, you also run into some sensitivity issues throughout the game. Since the developers didn't put in a sensitivity control, you'll just have to learn to deal with it. The truth is, after you play the game for a while, you do tend to adjust to this. At times, a slow swipe of the stylus will allow your character to look about the area with ease, while at other times, turning around or getting a good aim on a particular enemy.
For instance, when you go into the sniping mode, the crosshair moves even slower - this is understandable, as you want a degree of precision, but it can sometimes be bothersome. The tank controls are similar, since it plays mostly like being on foot. The 4x4, however, works pretty well overall, as you don't really need the stylus.
Otherwise, the game works out fairly well. L (or R) allows you to shoot, the D-pad lets you walk forward, back and strafe, and you use the touch screen for throwing grenades, switching weapons, going into aiming mode and activating things. It works pretty well, though, with the sensitivity being the only major issue. Still, since the sensitivity can make aiming a little difficult, and aiming is a large part of this game, it does take a hit in this area.
In terms of sound, everything in this game is crisp and clear. You hear the firing of weapons, explosions and grenades. All of these sound good and do an adequate job. On top of this, you have the vehicles driving about, which also sound good. But, more than anything, you will be hearing people yelling, shouting orders and other such things, which add a lot to the atmosphere and are very clear and a joy to hear.
Everything sounds in order and is easy to hear, and very clear, so I have no complaints here at all.
While this game is pretty enjoyable, it's not that difficult. You may find yourself dying now and then on a mission, especially when a hefty number of tanks are involved, but smart use of cover and other similar strategies to keep yourself alive. There are other difficulty levels, however, that you unlock by completing the mission. Your health restores on it's own and you don't really run out of ammo easily, so the game doesn't throw a lot of challenges at you. It's adequate, however, and should be just right for most players.
Unfortunately, there is one thing missing from this kind of game, which is support for Nintendo's WiFi Connection. There is local multiplayer (multi-card), but I have yet to actually be able to test that. Beyond that, the only other thing you can do in the game is replay the missions to unlock the higher difficulty levels, and the awards that come from completing the game on these difficulty levels. Whether or not you actually want to do that is up to you, but the game still takes a bit of a hit due to the lack of WiFi.
When all is said and done, Brothers In Arms DS is not the next big thing in DS action games, but it certainly makes a nice addition to anyone's DS library and it should at least temporarily satiate someone looking for a good action game.
*Score is rounded to the nearest whole number.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
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