Review by horror_spooky
"The greatest victories are always the most tragic"
Most games set during the Second World War are fast-paced shoot every single Nazi you see right in the face kinds of games. The Call of Duty games are a great example of this as are the Medal of Honor games, but one series has tried to differentiate itself from this type of gameplay while still being a game about World War II. This series is the Brothers in Arms series that focuses on squad-based gameplay and tactical fighting as opposed to mindless shooting. While this is a good idea, the game does have its problems and that definitely holds it back from being the next great World War II first-person shooter.
Like I mentioned before, squad-based gameplay is a huge part of Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood, and the game does sometimes feel like Rainbow Six set in the past. Regardless, this kind of gameplay works great with the setting and really makes the game feel more authentic than other World War II titles. Unfortunately, your allies do have a tendency to make some stupid decisions and end up dying. Enemy A.I., on the other hand, is extremely smart and they will almost always find the best kind of cover in any situation.
This, of course, makes the game quite a challenge and also a little annoying. As you are sitting behind some cover with some enemies behind some other cover, you'll have to sit there forever until the enemy finally decides to shoot at you. After that, you take your shot and then wait for the next enemy to stick his head up. This is a tactical shooter, but seriously, the gameplay could have been faster paced.
You can give your squad various commands, but the most useful command is obviously flanking the enemy, which definitely makes the game go by a little faster. Your teammates don't always listen to what you say, though, and this can become quite the pain in the ass.
A unique feature about Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood is that when your teammates die, they stay dead. Sure, they may be replaced along the way, but they are more or less deader than a doornail. At the end of the level, you have the option of replaying it and trying to save them, but because your teammate's A.I. makes the game hair pulling difficult, I doubt you'll want to trudge through the difficult and boring sections you just want through.
The game supports online multiplayer modes, but unfortunately no offline cooperative modes, which would have worked perfectly with this kind of game. I don't know why the developers didn't think about adding offline co-op when they created this title, as it seems to be a no-brainer to me, but hopefully future iterations in the series will have this feature because it would definitely take the gameplay to the next level.
Unlike most World War II first-person shooters, Earned in Blood has a heavy focus on the story, which while it is definitely a fresh of breath air, the story just really isn't that great. Main plot points are how you bond with your teammates, but these moments that should be rather touching fall flat on their face because, come on, this is a video game. Since the story is told through flashbacks, that also hampers the story telling greatly and ruins what could have still been a decent plot. I shouldn't have to go over the story because, well, you should know about World War II, but the game does happen a little while after D-Day, so you won't be storming any beaches in this title. Some real-life war heroes appear in the game so history buffs should absolutely love that and fans of the original game, Road to Hill 30, will be happy to see some characters returning for this game.
The graphics in Earned in Blood aren't absolutely terrible, but they aren't that great either. While a lot of the soldiers look different, which is awesome, the environments are painfully bland without much going on at all. Being able to see your enemies is essential, but the game doesn't really allow you to get a close-up on anyone you're having problems with taking out. When there is a huge firefight, you will definitely be screwed as bullets came at you from all directions, and I swear, even through some objects. Still, there are uglier games on the PlayStation 2 and Earned in Blood at least does do some things right by having practically go glitches and the game doesn't lag, which is great considering how many bullets may be flying at you at any given time.
Voice acting is awesome in this game and just dramatic enough to be entertaining, but not too over the top. All of the guns sound realistically and when bullets hit a certain surface, they sound unique to that surface as opposed to generic noises. Your squad also isn't very annoying either because they say a variety of things as opposed to continuously repeating something like in most games.
Earned in Blood will probably last you around six to eight hours and after that, there isn't much to do at all. You may want to play on harder difficulty settings, but the game is already extremely hard due to poor design choices, so unless you want to battle against the game's programming, I suggest you stay on the normal difficulty setting. Online multiplayer modes are fun for a little while, but they grow stale, too, and the lack of any really solid offline multiplayer functionality damages the game's replay value even more, so if you're looking for a game that's going to provide a ton of playing time, look elsewhere.
Earned in Blood earns some points for being different than most first-person shooters, but the game does suffer from some partner A.I. and squad mechanics that don't always do what they're supposed to. The lack of replayability, weak story, and average graphics also hurt the game, but despite all of that it is still a fun World War II game that will definitely provide you with some entertainment. With future installments on the way, I hope that the developers were able to fix the problems in this title and provide the ultimate Brothers in Arms experience.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 07/07/08
Game Release: Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood (US, 10/27/05)
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