Saturday, 17 July 2010

Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood

Brothers in Arms: Earned in blood is a sequel to Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30.

First of all its a game which balances tactics, realism and fun. You can't play it like an action shooter except at the easiest difficulty but its not a hard core simulation like Full Spectrum Warrior or Hidden and Dangerous . In other words a thinking mans FPS but doesn't require you to read a 60 page manual.

I do recommend it however there are a couple of issues I would like to note:

There isn't any way of issuing or queuing orders more complex than 'move' and 'fix the enemy' and you can only point to locations only you can see. It's not a super deal breaker as enemy and game levels are generally designed with this limitation in mind at least against enemy troops as most walls and barriers are invincible against bullets.

The problems with the AI and command system however become more apparent in certain conditions such as when the area is particularly large and you want your troops to head to a landmark but accidentally choose the wrong side of the landmark or when you see an enemy tank and want your troops to distract an enemy tank while you get into position. Just like in real life, bullets do nothing against tank armour. More often than not while you're moving to secure an anti-tank panzerfaust your troops will get killed because they don't move from their location. This also means you can't create orders such as "Starting flanking them when I start firing from this location", you have to manage your troops every step of the way.

Storywise the game weaves in and out of the first game. I believe that some of the levels take place in the same areas during the same time as levels in Road to Hill 30 except your character Joe Hatsock takes a different route from Sgt Matt Baker from the first game. I find this is a bit of a problem in the narrative because the game refers to a number of major incidences in Road to Hill 30 such as character deaths or Baker's actions and I'm unsure what exactly they are referring to. It would definitely make more sense to someone who has played the first game.

I love how real the levels are and how they have been recreated from the real towns. Unfortunately, the game's weather mimics the real conditions during the period of the conflict which means that its always cloudy and grey or raining. Coupled with the grey buildings of the time it makes the game feel a bit dull and drab at times. I sort of wished they had taken some artistic license here but that's just my personal feelings.

One crucial thing which I strong disliked about the game was how they created ficitional biographies and extras of the characters and slipped them into the extras while mixing it up with real biographies and actions of real WWII soldiers without clarifying that the game's characters were fictional. Having never played Brothers in Arms before, I feel that this move diminishes the efforts of the real soldiers during that time by placing them on equal footing as fictional characters because the levels and locations are based on real WWII conflicts and towns and the actions of the fictional characters are based on real actions of real soldiers.

At the moment, the games in Australia and New Zealand are being sold together so definitely get both together if you can so you can properly appreciate the intertwining stories.