Review by Raditz_Mage

"Attempts and Succeeds Mildly"

For years since 1941 World War II has served as perhaps the most dramatic war in history, capturing in essence an epic struggle of good versus evil that mankind may never experience again. As such it has become the subject of thousands of movies, books, and video games which have stretched to pretty much every system imaginable. Yes, there were Medal of Honor games on the GBA. And now America's love to re-enact this war comes to the DS in the form of Brothers In Arms DS.

Let me say I am rather new to the genre. I found Call of Duty: United Offensive just lying about one day. My brother had bought the set pack and had beaten the game but not the expansion pack, so I felt like giving it a try. I became addicted. I needed war games. I needed to feed my new found addiction to this genre.

I am much a handheld and PC gamer only, swearing off the seventh generation of systems. So the idea of a war game on the DS sounds a bit far-fetched, but an appetising one. It was released. About a week later I found myself with a copy and put it into my DS and let go.

First of all, you'll be met with the menu. You're options are online play or single player. Oh, you can look at your awards, too, but there's only a few and you have to do a lot of stuff for them, so don't worry too much about it.

The first mission is Normandy and you find yourself a paratrooper stuck in a tree watching a firefight between a group of Nazis and some Americans. Enjoy this -- it is one of the few cinematic moments in the game.

You'll be cut down and get into the game, so let's get down to what really matters: gameplay. The controls are a bit awkward at first, and you'll fired yourself running into some Germans backwards and trying to turn around quickly. The button scheme becomes natural quickly, though, and I have no major quarrels with it except one: the grenade system. Let me warn you here and now that you will not use a grenade in this game. Not because you don't have them, and you will be required to throw two or three in the course of the game, but throwing a grenade is just so hard and annoying that its pointless. You have to do an odd maneuver with your wrist which the game can't seem to register as anything but movement so you'll start twisting about and end up throwing it pointlessly at the wrong way. Grenades are a no, but the rest of the controls are good.

The game will play very unrealistically. You are an uberhuman, apparently, and you'll be able to take out thousands of "jerries" just standing there and tapping the R button as they fall down pointlessly. They have no AI other than "shoot at you", and their scripts are limited to "get into place". Basically this will just be a run and gun mission, and it really makes it feel more of an arcadeish thing than a world war two shooter.

The back of the box will tell you that you will use a huge array of weapons. It is very huge: you will have the option to use all of three guns. That's right, three. The normal gun which apparently has infinite ammo, and two special guns that they'll give you at certain points in the game with limited ammo: the sniper rifle and the bazooka/cheap panzerfaust. Neither of them are especially useful other than their scripted jobs, though it is rather amusing to just shoot a bazooka shot into a group of enemies and watching them explode.

Also, let me take a quick moment to explore a small feature. When loading a level the game will shoot at you a random quote, a la Call of Duty. However, if you played that game you'll see pretty much the same reruns. There's only five quotes and it gets repetitive quickly.

Most missions in the game are similar: run around the level and take out the Germans. When a tank shows up--as it inevitably will--shoot it. Occasionally blow up some machinery and what not. This formula is livened up by the inclusion of vehicles. There are two--a Sherman tank and a recon truck. One is good, the other sucks. No, it's not what you think. Yes, that's right, the Sherman tank is the one you'll dread.

Why? It's hard to control, is apparently overrun by tank hunters (little guys that come out of nowhere, climb your tank, and throw a grenade in and run off), and numerous other tanks will attack you. The other is the recon vehicle, and you'll find yourself flying around haphazardly while some gunner takes out people. Oddly enough I was actually fond of the recon and, it definitely makes the game more fun.

On this note, let's go to the campaigns, shall we? There's Normandy with six levels, Tunis with four levels, and Ardennes with three. Ardennes is basically just Normandy with more difficulty, so Tunis is the only one with a true unique feel, and is probably some of the most enjoyable of the game, though Normandy is the more traditional war games fare. Once you beat a mission you unlock veteran mode, which is the same thing, only harder. This will bring back some replay value but not that much.

I've been rather hard on this game so far, but let me say that it has a nice, quaint charm to it. It's definitely a worthy play for any hardcore war game fan, or just someone looking for something new. I would only recommened it to serious WW2 fans with a DS and some extra money--after all, the game is cheap, and you can't fault it for that. Thirty bucks from where I bought it.

Now the game earns strong points in the graphics and sound departments. The graphics, considering its a 3D game on the DS, does exceptionally well for a genre that doesn't particularly lend itself well to the system. But the sound is just amazing. There's voices shouting out orders, asking for more ammo, announcing accomplishments, etc. You'll hear bullets and you'll hear explosions. The music isn't as good as the sound effects, but the sound effects are the best thing on the DS that I've heard so far.

The game is a pleasant and quick play for those who like war games, but I can only recommend it to serious fans. People looking for a more casual or deep experience will find me heartily recommending any Call of Duty title.

So, with that, let's see how this thing does in the ratings.

--Final Analysis--

Gameplay: 6/10
Flawed, but not with out its high points.

Sound/Graphics: 9/10
This thing tries hard and does well. I can't quite give it a 10 because the music isn't spectacular, but everything else is.

Story: 4/10
World War II. What do you expect? The missions and in-game chatter are minimal.

Concept: 5/10
World War II has been done over and over and over again. But bringing it to the DS is an interesting idea.

Replay Value: 3/10
You'll find yourself coming back to the game every once and a while to play a mission when you're done with it. But beyond that, there's little for it in this arena.

Multiplayer: N/A
Haven't played it, therefore I can't really score it. But from what I've heard, it's mediocre.

Final Report: 6/10
Brothers in Arms really does try hard to be a true war game on the DS, and you have to give it that respect. But it still lends itself as flawed. It's not a perfect game--far from it--but if you like war games, have a DS, and a few extra bucks, give it a try. It'll be a nice little experience, but not something you can't get elsewhere, and done better.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 07/02/07

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