Review by Blamat

"Brothers in Arms, possibly the best WWII shooter to date"

There have been a lot of FPS games released lately about World War II. Call of Duty, Battlefield: 1942, Medal of Honor… so what makes Brothers in Arms any different? Well, a lot of things, really. A lot of things that should have been in all those other games, and after playing this one, you'll wonder why they weren't. Now, on to the review, where you read about me talking about this wonderful game!

Game play 9/10

The game play in this game is completely amazing, and almost ground breaking. If you have read any previews at all, you'd probably come to the conclusion that this game is similar to either Full Spectrum Warrior, or Call of Duty. You'd be right. This game is like a perfect mix of the two, with sprinkles on top. In Brothers in Arms you play the role of Sgt. Matt Baker, a shy poetic young man who pretty much kills anything that gets in his way. Baker can utilize any American and German weapons he comes across, man machine guns and plant explosives. Pretty soon off into the game, you gain control of your squads. You have an Assault for suppression fire, and Fire squad for flanking. It's very simple to order them around, all it requires is holding the L trigger, and using the white button to choose which squad you want to control, move the little marker that comes up when you press L over either the ground, or any enemy, and let go of the trigger. That's it. It's so simple. If you let off the trigger over an enemy, that group will start laying down fire on their position. And the squads are totally able of finding cover all by themselves, which means less babysitting, like in Full Spectrum Warrior. Some missions, one of your squads is even swapped out for a tank! Trust me, that's fun. Brothers in Arms introduces the Suppression system. By getting your Assault team to lay down suppressing fire, a little red circle above the enemy's head slowly turns to gray. Once it's completely gray, you'd usually take your Fire team and go and flank the pinned down enemies. Of course, in this game you do get to shoot your own gun, unlike FSW. You can aim down the sights too (which, really, is almost the only way to land a shot, as this game is very realistic. As a matter of fact it's still hard to shoot while aiming down the sights…) if you want to get in on the action yourself. The environments and levels are immense, and to help you get around in it, the situational awareness system was introduced. With a tap of the back button, the game pauses and zooms out, and you can cycle through all the available way points, like squads, enemies, allies, and objectives.

It seems a little complicated but the game eases you into commanding soldiers pretty easily, starting you off with only ordering one guy around, then a full assault group, and so on. Sooner or later you'll be way to immersed in the game to even notice. Speaking of being immersive, that's really where this game shines over other WWII shooters. The game is incredibly realistic, so yeah, it's really hard. But that's ok, because once you get a hang of the idea of finding the enemy, fixing him, flanking him, and finishing him you'll be popping Germans like you've been doing it all your life. Other things that help add to being sucked into the game are the enemy A.I., which talk among themselves, and also try to flank you. You'll often find yourself taking cover behind rocks, walls, hedgerows and other things while dodging fire from German troops. There are some very tense moments in the game like that, and there's a nice effect that if a shot hits the ground near you a bit of dirt, dust and smoke will sort of flash up on the screen for a second. But it's not too cheesy, like, to say it looks like dirt hitting a car window. Anyways, the gameplay of Brothers in Arms is very unique, immersive, and convincing. I'm definitely going to be coming back to this game on rainy days.

Story 10/10

Very cinematic and touching. No, the story isn't just about World War II, it's about Matt Baker and the squad he wasn't ready to lead. As you probably know, Sgt. Baker is one of the paratroopers in the 101st Airborne Division, landing in Normandy before D-Day. The game spans D-Day and the eight days after it on the journey to Carentan, and all the adventures you have between D-Day and then. You really get attached to your boys in this game. The ingame dialogue is quite entertaining and funny, and doesn't seem forced or anything. As a matter of fact, it's pretty helpful sometimes (GET DOWN SARGE). The voice acting is top notch, too. Between missions you will be treated to a bit of Baker's thoughts in his head, which help explain the situation and what he's feeling better. The story is basically what you've come to expect from a war shooter, and a bit more. You'll really care about Baker and his men, and keep playing just to know what happens next. You may even jerk a tear or two…

Graphics 9/10

Phew, get ready to indulge your eyes. The graphics are completely spectacular. I mean, not to say beautiful really, because frankly, Normandy in 1944 wasn't really the prettiest place on earth. But this game manages to colour and capture the French countryside almost perfectly. In the Extras section you can view photos of real life places they mapped out in the game, and believe me they did quite the job. Everything looks pretty great, there are no weird empty places, the backgrounds are colourful and detailed, and the water especially looks great. The weapons and explosions look very true to life, and the soldier's uniforms are nice too. Pretty detailed stuff, especially for the console. Grass rustling as you walk by, trees swaying, birds flying around, excellent lighting and shadow effects. Definitely what I've come to expect from modern games.

Sound/Music 9/10

As I said before, the dialogue is great, and it's nice to have teammates that say stuff. And say stuff they do, usually with quite coarse language! So don't get this game if you've got virgin ears. The conversations are creative and realistic and don't seem forced, and aren't very cheesy like Call of Duty's.
All the guns sound really great, and the grenades are awesome. There isn't any background music except in menus and loading screens, which is good because you'd probably be a bit more concerned with the game than the background music anyways. The loading screen music does get just a little monotonous, because chances are you'll be reloading the checkpoint a lot and hearing the same music… it IS a tough game.

Replayability 8/10

Replayability is probably the second most important thing about this kind of game. Well, it's got split screen multiplayer, and Xbox Live and System Link support, so that's a definite plus. There are a lot of scenarios and maps to choose from in multiplayer. The single player campaign itself will take a little while to complete, probably between 10-20 hours. But there are four difficulties, and as added incentive to go back and play, you can unlock things in the Extra menu, and there is quite a bit of cool stuff in there. The game can get a little boring sometimes, but it's still something nice to sit down and play with, even after you've beat it.

Should You Buy?

That's really your own choice. If you are into more tactical shooters, I think you really will find this game fun. But it is a console title, so maybe do yourself a favor and rent it first. I know for me it's worth every penny I spent on it, and I'm going to be playing it for a long while. It'll definitely make a great addition to any action gamer's collection.

Final Score 9/10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/10/05

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