Not a Tom Hanks in Sight
I have to admit that I was a little sceptical about the release of another World War II themed first-person shooter game that was “based on a true story” - however ten minutes into the game I was rooted to my chair in a quivering wreck of gun-fire and shrapnel. Immediately after a gut-wrenching intro video - you are thrown into the midst of a battle in a grassy paddock with your men on either side of you screaming for help. Sticking your head out of your cover you can see why as a dozen German troops bear down on you with machine-gun fire.
The game builds up tension like a Hollywood movie and as you are forced to watch your fellow soldiers getting gunned down you can’t help but feel like you’ve lost more than just a computer generated character. Brothers in Arms puts you in the muddy boots of Sgt. Matt Baker, a real-life member of the 101st Airborne Division, recently parachuted behind enemy lines in France. The game plays out over a week, starting before D-Day through the territorial battles in the French country-side - seeing you and your fellow men over-run towns and take strategic positions against all odds. In Brothers in Arms, running out and being Rambo gets you killed - quickly. Teamwork is everything, but luckily the controls makes screaming orders at your men simple and effective. Using the D-Pad and the left shoulder button you can tell your men to place fire over an enemy area, retreat to find cover and even order tanks around. However the game places a huge emphasis on the realities of War and poor leadership can lead to bloodshed and being over-run. For example, ordering a team to fire at an enemy’s location to allow for a second team to flank and over-run them becomes second nature after three failed attempts of ‘storming the front’.
Real Enough for Granddad
The graphics are stunning with articulate backdrops and realistic settings of country-sides and farms, offering you plenty of things to hide behind when gun fire rains down on you. All the characters are beautifully rendered and you can identify your different team mates from miles off just by looking at them from front on. Overhead planes, tanks and gun turrets are all historically accurate and the perfectly matched sound and score complete the atmosphere. Although the Xbox version tended to slow down in parts, the frame-rates and amount of detail is excellent and the PC version goes that little bit further.
Brothers in Arms also features some clever AI with regards to both your own fellow team-mates and how the enemy reacts. Sending your troop over to a house will result in them immediately finding cover and seeking strategic places, as well as shooting at nearby targets to protect team-mates. Only in a few circumstances did they stand there and get drilled by enemy fire, and in most cases it was me who put them there thinking the area was clear. Your team will yell at you too if you fail to do your job and everything adds a very “human” feel to the game - which features situations almost impossible for someone of my generation to even comprehend. Overall, combine excellent gameplay, voice acting, cinematics and story-telling - and you have THE best historically based first-person shooting game around.