Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Review: Brothers in Arms - Road to Hill 30 (long)

Last response: in Video Games
Share
Anonymous
April 3, 2005 1:41:59 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.action (More info?)

Review: Brothers in Arms - Road to Hill 30
-----------------------------------------------------

Instructions for mixing a Brothers in Arms cocktail:
Take 1 part "Call of Duty". Combine with 1 part "Full Spectrum
Warrior". Mix in Unreal graphics engine. Tweak with bloom lighting and
blur effects and other minor additions. Sprinkle with a dash of
realism. Serve while boasting about how revolutionary the game is, but
not until a year has passed after the bars down the street have
released similar drinks. That's Brothers in Arms in a nutshell (or a
cocktail glass).

Brothers in Arms - Road to Hill 30 is -surprise surprise- yet another
World War 2 first-person shooter. Produced by Ubisoft and Gearbox
(producers of the Half Life add-on "Opposing Forces"), it is a
multi-platform game whose most prominent feature seems to be a massive
marketing campaign. Slightly less important are several "new" features
added to the first-person-shooter genre, such as tactical command of
squadmates and being based on real historical events.

Astute readers may have already detected a hint of cynicism in this
review. It's not that I think Brothers in Arms (henceforth BIA) is a
bad game; it just seems a year or two late, and I have a hard time
getting excited about it. Everything from the gameplay to the graphics
to the setting
has a "been there, done that" feeling to it. Had BIA been released in
2003, it would truly have been revolutionary. As it is, it feels like
little more than a rehash of other good games that lacks any
originality.

Take, for instance, the graphics. They're okay, but hardly
outstanding. The game utilizes a tweaked version of Epic's Unreal
graphics engine, so it is easy on the eyes, but it doesn't equal the
graphics of any of the latest games (e.g., Doom, Riddick, Half Life 2,
etc.). BIA lacked any sort of jaw-dropping moment when the graphic
intensity just knocks you aback; aside from the addition of bloom
lighting and (lots of) waving grass, the game barely surpasses the
visuals of "Call of Duty". This probably has more to do with the art
direction, as the latest Unreal engines have proven quite capable.
Nonetheless, the graphics don't really stand out.

The sound is equally mediocre. The weapons fire is acceptable and
presumably authentic, but that's pretty much true for dozens of other
World War 2 games that have come out in the years past. The soundtrack
is the sort of forgettable orchestral theme that so often accompanies
this sort of game. Some of the other sound effects -such as
explosions- lack body, and there's a noticeable lack of that
full-featured cacophony of sound we've come to expect from modern-day
war games. Extraneous background sounds and Foley obviously got the
short end of the stick, so the gameworld sounds bare and empty. The
voice-acting is average at best; there's a lot of shouting but little
in the way of convincing emotion.

Similarly, the art design fails to stand out in any way. The character
models are all high-poly, decently textured and well animated, but
that's par for the course these days. On the other hand, the NPCs
don't have a wide variety of animations, which makes them seem stiff
and unalive (the conversation animations were almost comical in their
retro-ness; the mouths barely moved and the NPCs for the most part
just stood stiffly besides one another). The texturing was acceptable
-in fact, a touch above what you find in most "multi-platform" (read:
console port) games these days, but often lacking in variety.

The level design was fairly linear and very reminiscent of the
standard fare found in "Call of Duty" or "Medal of Honor", but without
any of those magnificent set-pieces like CoD's awesome Stalingrad
assault. Set largely in the hedgerows of Normandy, there wasn't much
diversity to the environments; it was largely bushes & fields or small
provincial towns. Of course, this is exactly the sort of thing you
would expect to see in that part of France, so it's hard to complain
except that we've seen it so many times before. The levels are average
sized -perhaps three or four skirmishes each- and take about twenty to
thirty minutes to get through. There are only a few large open areas;
for the most part you follow a twisty path between hedges or
townhouses. At various points this path branches to allow you to flank
an intervening opposing force, but invariably the branches rejoin
before the next split, so progression is for the most part very
linear.

The plot is -like much of the rest of the game- pretty unoriginal:
airborne soldier drops into Normandy and fights his way through hordes
of German soldiers as part of the D-Day invasion. Of course, as the
game is reputedly an accurate re-telling of the 101st's advance
through Normandy, one might argue this story is the real original and
other games are the copies... except those other games came out first.
There's some attempt at including various sub-plots such as how the
characters deal with the deaths of their friends and the camaraderie
of soldiers, but this doesn't go very far and falls flat largely due
to the unconvincing voice-acting.

The hook of the game -the thing that is supposed to set Brothers in
Arms apart from the score of other WW2 first person shooters- is the
tactical command of up to six other squadmates (or three squadmates
and a tank). Alas, BIA once again came late to the scene with this
idea, and games like "Freedom Fighters" or "Full Spectrum Warrior"
beat them to the punch. And once again, BIA failed to bring anything
new to the concept; it never surpassed and sometimes was inferior to
what had come before.

To be fair, BIA's command interface was fairly straightforward; you
use one key to toggle between your two squads, and then use a command
key which brings up a floating icon. Place this icon on the ground and
the selected squad runs to that location; click this icon on an enemy,
and you direct the squad's fire at that target. You can also command
your squad to "fall out" (e.g., take cover) or "fall in" (e.g., follow
you), as needed. However, I found the default key-mapping made
commanding the troops a bit more difficult than I'd like (often I'd
order the troops to run into enemy fire when I accidentally hit the
"command" key when I meant to hit the "zoom in view" key). However,
after re-mapping the commands in options my control of the situation
markedly improved.

BIA also boasts a "situational awareness" mode, which pauses the game
and displays a zoomed out top-down view of the terrain, showing maybe
a 100 feet around you. Nominally this is so you can get an idea of
where the enemy is and how best to flank them; however, given how
small and linear the levels were, I found this information to be
completely obvious from the normal view-point. Furthermore, you cannot
give orders in the "situational awareness" mode, nor can you use it to
watch how the enemy soldiers move and react to your orders, since it
pauses the game. Both of these design decisions made the situational
awareness" mode functionally useless to me and in the end I rarely
used it.

In design, the gameplay of BIA is supposed to be all about the four
"F"'s of WW2 close-quarter combat: Find the Enemy, Fix the Enemy with
suppressing fire, Flank the Enemy, and then Finish them off. You are
supposed to order one squad (your "fireteam") to a position where they
can shoot at the bad-guys while you lead your second squad (your
"assault team") around the corner to take out the enemy from the
flank.

In practice, I rarely bothered with this rigmarole due to deficiencies
in the AI. Even from a flanking position the friendly AI had
difficulty taking out enemy soldiers cowering beneath suppressing
fire; by and far I did most of the killing in the game. Furthermore,
despite an obviously valiant attempt by the AI programmers, the
squaddie's AI was exceptionally poor at making use at cover; I'd order
my soldiers "move to right behind this conveniently placed fieldstone
wall" and inevitably one soldier would decide to stand IN FRONT of the
wall.

Therefore, I usually just stuck my squads somewhere safe, ordered them
to suppress the enemy, and snuck around and killed the bad guys
myself, therefore for the most part ignoring the "hook" that was
supposed to make Brothers in Arms so special. In essence, BIA played
out just like "Call of Duty", except without the impressive set pieces
and character (ironically, I felt more attachment to the anonymous
friendly AIs in CoD than I did with my "buddies" in BIA, probably
because I had to spend so much work shepherding the squads in Brothers
whereas I could let the AI cheerfully sacrifice themselves for me in
COD).

In any event, the "tactical command" element of Brothers in Arms
largely fell flat for me, and ultimately I played the game largely
like any other first person shooter due to the various deficiencies in
keeping the squaddies alive. This was made more difficult with the
inaccurate (and some argue unrealistic) weapons waver, which made it
harder to shoot the enemy soldiers, although this did not bother me as
much as it seems to bother other people.

(I did get the very strong impression that Gearbox originally wanted
the game to play more like the tactical puzzle-game "Full Spectrum
Warrior", but later in development bumped up the action aspect of the
game when FSW wasn't as well received as it might have been because it
wasn't the first-person shooter people expected it to be. Had Gearbox
gone one way or another -a full tactical game like "Full Spectrum
Warrior" or a "true" action shooter, the game probably would have
stood out from the crowd. As it is, the compromises made to satisfy
the needs of both genres made the game less exceptional than it could
have been.)

The enemy AI -while more reactive than in "Full Spectrum Warrior"- was
less dynamic than it could have been; to some degree they shifted fire
in reaction to various flanking maneuvers on the player's part, but
rarely retreated and never advanced (except for scripted movements
when they initially ran into position). They stayed in one position
and the player maneuvered around them. BIA also utilized in several
areas that hobgoblin of poor game design, endless enemy respawns. Game
designers rely on respawns when they can't write compelling situations
or code good AI, and therefore instead rely on brute force to rack up
the difficulty level.

Another failing of BIA's gameplay is that it ultimately becomes very
repetitive: move forward to enemy position, situate squad to suppress
enemy and fix them in place, maneuver around to flank, repeat ad
infinitum. Things become marginally more intense in the few levels
that you have tank support (tanks can only be taken out by panzerfaust
rocket-launchers, anti-tank emplaced cannons or other tanks), but only
marginally so (you use the tank to kill the machine-gun nest that's
covering the rear approach to an anti-tank weapon, use the squad to
take out the anti-tank weapon, and then repeat).

One area that BIA does stand apart from other recent WW2 shooters is
that it, amazingly, has gore. It is not a significantly bloody game
-units don't show damage when they get shot and bodies disappear after
they are killed- but there is some blood and a few (fixed) instances
of torn up corpses. This is markedly different from games like Call of
Duty, which are clean and sanitized. Brothers in Arms also has some
adult language, probably to make it feel "more realistic".

Speaking of realism -another supposed hallmark of the game- I found it
rather lacking. Oh, not the situation or setting; there are some great
comparisons of the real-life locations versus the digital
representations, and they are very similar. But as far as gameplay
goes, it's pretty much like any other shooter; it's an arcade version
of the war. This, of course, makes the game more fun, but it goes
contrary to the "true to life" marketing of the game.

Although the game is of average length -perhaps 20 hours- the
developers decided to increase this by tossing in various
"unlockables" that can only be achieved by finishing the game on its
various difficulty levels. These include various movies, animatics,
photos and historical data, as well as cheats and -annoyingly- the
"authentic" difficulty level. Given how linear the game is, there
would be little reason to replay the game otherwise.

BIA supports multiplayer via Internet and LAN. Once again, this is an
area that goes unreviewed, as I have no interest in these game modes.
But it's nice to see it's there , although there doesn't seem to be a
much desired co-operative mode.

Brothers in Arms was possibly the buggiest game I have played in a
good while; not only did I experience a couple crash-to-desktops
(something I very, very rarely experience), but there were also
several scripting bugs when the AI would get "stuck", essentially
stopping the game.


In the end, I was disappointed with Brothers in Arms. Not because it
was really that bad a game, but because it failed to live up to its
potential. In almost every area it was matched or bettered by
competing products, some of which were released a year or more ago.
Had it been released in late 2003 or early 2004, it would have been an
instant classic, but the bar has been raised since then. For sheer WW2
action exhilaration, we have Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Medal of
Honor, and Call of Duty. For the tactical combat aspect, we have games
like Full Spectrum Warrior and Ghost Recon. All these games are as
good or are better than BIA. And unfortunately, it can't help but be
compared to these games because it borrows so many of their aspects.
Nor does it help that it uses the most overplayed setting in gaming
history. And that's a shame because -I'll say it again- it is not a
bad game. It just fails to stand out and one has a great sense of
ennui whilst playing. Brothers in Arms isn't a game to be avoided, but
nor is it a product that one rushes out to get. It's... average.


Completely Arbitrary Numerical Score (CANS)
(for those who like this sort of thing):
345/500 (just above average)


System Specs:
Athlon AMD 3000 XP (Barton)
1024 MB RAM
PNY Verto GeForce 6600 GT w/128 MB (AGP)
Windows XP
Brothers in Arms was played at acceptable frame rates at 1280x1024
resolution, with all settings at highest, anti-aliasing off and
anisotropy at "2";
Anonymous
April 3, 2005 2:18:52 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.action (More info?)

On Sun, 03 Apr 2005 09:41:59 GMT, Spalls Hurgenson <yoinks@ebalu.com>
wrote:

>For sheer WW2
>action exhilaration, we have Return to Castle Wolfenstein

Please, don't include that arcade fantasy shooter under WWII games. It
was mediocre at best.
April 3, 2005 2:39:09 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.action (More info?)

Spalls Hurgenson wrote:
> Review: Brothers in Arms - Road to Hill 30
> -----------------------------------------------------
>
> Instructions for mixing a Brothers in Arms cocktail:
> Take 1 part "Call of Duty". Combine with 1 part "Full Spectrum
> Warrior". Mix in Unreal graphics engine. Tweak with bloom lighting and
> blur effects and other minor additions. Sprinkle with a dash of
> realism. Serve while boasting about how revolutionary the game is, but
> not until a year has passed after the bars down the street have
> released similar drinks. That's Brothers in Arms in a nutshell (or a
> cocktail glass).
>
> Brothers in Arms - Road to Hill 30 is -surprise surprise- yet another
> World War 2 first-person shooter. Produced by Ubisoft and Gearbox
> (producers of the Half Life add-on "Opposing Forces"), it is a
> multi-platform game whose most prominent feature seems to be a massive
> marketing campaign. Slightly less important are several "new" features
> added to the first-person-shooter genre, such as tactical command of
> squadmates and being based on real historical events.
>
> Astute readers may have already detected a hint of cynicism in this
> review. It's not that I think Brothers in Arms (henceforth BIA) is a
> bad game; it just seems a year or two late, and I have a hard time
> getting excited about it. Everything from the gameplay to the graphics
> to the setting
> has a "been there, done that" feeling to it. Had BIA been released in
> 2003, it would truly have been revolutionary. As it is, it feels like
> little more than a rehash of other good games that lacks any
> originality.
>
> Take, for instance, the graphics. They're okay, but hardly
> outstanding. The game utilizes a tweaked version of Epic's Unreal
> graphics engine, so it is easy on the eyes, but it doesn't equal the
> graphics of any of the latest games (e.g., Doom, Riddick, Half Life 2,
> etc.). BIA lacked any sort of jaw-dropping moment when the graphic
> intensity just knocks you aback; aside from the addition of bloom
> lighting and (lots of) waving grass, the game barely surpasses the
> visuals of "Call of Duty". This probably has more to do with the art
> direction, as the latest Unreal engines have proven quite capable.
> Nonetheless, the graphics don't really stand out.
>
The graphics are as you say on a par with CoD but below that of HL2 &
Far Cry, which initially I found a bit of a disappointment, but for me
graphics have to be good enough not exceptional. Take Doom 3 for an
example excellent graphics but as a game I played the first few levels
and haven't played it since. In essence as long as the graphics are good
enough I tend to 'switch off' after a while to whether they are great or
not.

> The sound is equally mediocre. The weapons fire is acceptable and
> presumably authentic, but that's pretty much true for dozens of other
> World War 2 games that have come out in the years past. The soundtrack
> is the sort of forgettable orchestral theme that so often accompanies
> this sort of game. Some of the other sound effects -such as
> explosions- lack body, and there's a noticeable lack of that
> full-featured cacophony of sound we've come to expect from modern-day
> war games. Extraneous background sounds and Foley obviously got the
> short end of the stick, so the gameworld sounds bare and empty. The
> voice-acting is average at best; there's a lot of shouting but little
> in the way of convincing emotion.
>
This is one of the bits that I think they did get right, just a bit of
background noise for most of the time and then gun fire and shouts when
you enter a fire-fight. I just wish they could of had more variety with
what the NPCs say. I don't want to here "Get down Baker" all the time.

> Similarly, the art design fails to stand out in any way. The character
> models are all high-poly, decently textured and well animated, but
> that's par for the course these days. On the other hand, the NPCs
> don't have a wide variety of animations, which makes them seem stiff
> and unalive (the conversation animations were almost comical in their
> retro-ness; the mouths barely moved and the NPCs for the most part
> just stood stiffly besides one another). The texturing was acceptable
> -in fact, a touch above what you find in most "multi-platform" (read:
> console port) games these days, but often lacking in variety.
>
> The level design was fairly linear and very reminiscent of the
> standard fare found in "Call of Duty" or "Medal of Honor", but without
> any of those magnificent set-pieces like CoD's awesome Stalingrad
> assault. Set largely in the hedgerows of Normandy, there wasn't much
> diversity to the environments; it was largely bushes & fields or small
> provincial towns. Of course, this is exactly the sort of thing you
> would expect to see in that part of France, so it's hard to complain
> except that we've seen it so many times before. The levels are average
> sized -perhaps three or four skirmishes each- and take about twenty to
> thirty minutes to get through. There are only a few large open areas;
> for the most part you follow a twisty path between hedges or
> townhouses. At various points this path branches to allow you to flank
> an intervening opposing force, but invariably the branches rejoin
> before the next split, so progression is for the most part very
> linear.
>
This is again (IMHO) one of the reasons that I really enjoy the game.
Some of the levels in CoD & MoH are just rubbish beyond belief. The ones
that stood out are the large open spaces and towns. Pegasus Bridge and
Stalingrad are some of my favorites, but don't get me started on the
likes of take out the AA guns and destroy the dam type levels. BIA just
has the type of levels that I like to play.

> The plot is -like much of the rest of the game- pretty unoriginal:
> airborne soldier drops into Normandy and fights his way through hordes
> of German soldiers as part of the D-Day invasion. Of course, as the
> game is reputedly an accurate re-telling of the 101st's advance
> through Normandy, one might argue this story is the real original and
> other games are the copies... except those other games came out first.
> There's some attempt at including various sub-plots such as how the
> characters deal with the deaths of their friends and the camaraderie
> of soldiers, but this doesn't go very far and falls flat largely due
> to the unconvincing voice-acting.
>
Agree, if you're are going to try and put a plot in either do it
properly or just don't bother.

> The hook of the game -the thing that is supposed to set Brothers in
> Arms apart from the score of other WW2 first person shooters- is the
> tactical command of up to six other squadmates (or three squadmates
> and a tank). Alas, BIA once again came late to the scene with this
> idea, and games like "Freedom Fighters" or "Full Spectrum Warrior"
> beat them to the punch. And once again, BIA failed to bring anything
> new to the concept; it never surpassed and sometimes was inferior to
> what had come before.
>
I think "jack of all trades but master of none" springs to mind here.
This suits me just fine as I like an FPS to involve a bit more thinking
than run forward and shoot the bad guys but not so much that I spend all
my time thinking about what to do next. If I want that I'll play Combat
Mission or Korsun Pocket.

> To be fair, BIA's command interface was fairly straightforward; you
> use one key to toggle between your two squads, and then use a command
> key which brings up a floating icon. Place this icon on the ground and
> the selected squad runs to that location; click this icon on an enemy,
> and you direct the squad's fire at that target. You can also command
> your squad to "fall out" (e.g., take cover) or "fall in" (e.g., follow
> you), as needed. However, I found the default key-mapping made
> commanding the troops a bit more difficult than I'd like (often I'd
> order the troops to run into enemy fire when I accidentally hit the
> "command" key when I meant to hit the "zoom in view" key). However,
> after re-mapping the commands in options my control of the situation
> markedly improved.
>
> BIA also boasts a "situational awareness" mode, which pauses the game
> and displays a zoomed out top-down view of the terrain, showing maybe
> a 100 feet around you. Nominally this is so you can get an idea of
> where the enemy is and how best to flank them; however, given how
> small and linear the levels were, I found this information to be
> completely obvious from the normal view-point. Furthermore, you cannot
> give orders in the "situational awareness" mode, nor can you use it to
> watch how the enemy soldiers move and react to your orders, since it
> pauses the game. Both of these design decisions made the situational
> awareness" mode functionally useless to me and in the end I rarely
> used it.
>
Not sure which difficulty level you played it on, but I found this view
invaluable as I play it on the 'difficult' setting where being caught
out in the open means you end up losing members of your squad before you
know what's happened.

> In design, the gameplay of BIA is supposed to be all about the four
> "F"'s of WW2 close-quarter combat: Find the Enemy, Fix the Enemy with
> suppressing fire, Flank the Enemy, and then Finish them off. You are
> supposed to order one squad (your "fireteam") to a position where they
> can shoot at the bad-guys while you lead your second squad (your
> "assault team") around the corner to take out the enemy from the
> flank.
>
> In practice, I rarely bothered with this rigmarole due to deficiencies
> in the AI. Even from a flanking position the friendly AI had
> difficulty taking out enemy soldiers cowering beneath suppressing
> fire; by and far I did most of the killing in the game. Furthermore,
> despite an obviously valiant attempt by the AI programmers, the
> squaddie's AI was exceptionally poor at making use at cover; I'd order
> my soldiers "move to right behind this conveniently placed fieldstone
> wall" and inevitably one soldier would decide to stand IN FRONT of the
> wall.
>
They AI is pretty good but yes it can be annoying with it's use of
cover. Sometimes your squad take up good postional cover but at other
times it's furstaing to say the least. When I jump over a wall so that I
can progress along it I expect my squad to follow me and not go around
the other side strainght into the path of a machine gun nest.

> Therefore, I usually just stuck my squads somewhere safe, ordered them
> to suppress the enemy, and snuck around and killed the bad guys
> myself, therefore for the most part ignoring the "hook" that was
> supposed to make Brothers in Arms so special. In essence, BIA played
> out just like "Call of Duty", except without the impressive set pieces
> and character (ironically, I felt more attachment to the anonymous
> friendly AIs in CoD than I did with my "buddies" in BIA, probably
> because I had to spend so much work shepherding the squads in Brothers
> whereas I could let the AI cheerfully sacrifice themselves for me in
> COD).
>
Really can't say I felt this was like playing CoD but yes I wouldn't say
you can come 'attached' to you squad members.

> In any event, the "tactical command" element of Brothers in Arms
> largely fell flat for me, and ultimately I played the game largely
> like any other first person shooter due to the various deficiencies in
> keeping the squaddies alive. This was made more difficult with the
> inaccurate (and some argue unrealistic) weapons waver, which made it
> harder to shoot the enemy soldiers, although this did not bother me as
> much as it seems to bother other people.
>
> (I did get the very strong impression that Gearbox originally wanted
> the game to play more like the tactical puzzle-game "Full Spectrum
> Warrior", but later in development bumped up the action aspect of the
> game when FSW wasn't as well received as it might have been because it
> wasn't the first-person shooter people expected it to be. Had Gearbox
> gone one way or another -a full tactical game like "Full Spectrum
> Warrior" or a "true" action shooter, the game probably would have
> stood out from the crowd. As it is, the compromises made to satisfy
> the needs of both genres made the game less exceptional than it could
> have been.)
>
> The enemy AI -while more reactive than in "Full Spectrum Warrior"- was
> less dynamic than it could have been; to some degree they shifted fire
> in reaction to various flanking maneuvers on the player's part, but
> rarely retreated and never advanced (except for scripted movements
> when they initially ran into position). They stayed in one position
> and the player maneuvered around them. BIA also utilized in several
> areas that hobgoblin of poor game design, endless enemy respawns. Game
> designers rely on respawns when they can't write compelling situations
> or code good AI, and therefore instead rely on brute force to rack up
> the difficulty level.
>
> Another failing of BIA's gameplay is that it ultimately becomes very
> repetitive: move forward to enemy position, situate squad to suppress
> enemy and fix them in place, maneuver around to flank, repeat ad
> infinitum. Things become marginally more intense in the few levels
> that you have tank support (tanks can only be taken out by panzerfaust
> rocket-launchers, anti-tank emplaced cannons or other tanks), but only
> marginally so (you use the tank to kill the machine-gun nest that's
> covering the rear approach to an anti-tank weapon, use the squad to
> take out the anti-tank weapon, and then repeat).
>
This just goes back to my liking of the type of levels that BIA has. I
could play lots more levels just the same as I enjoy the trying to find
out the path for the F's strategy to work.

> One area that BIA does stand apart from other recent WW2 shooters is
> that it, amazingly, has gore. It is not a significantly bloody game
> -units don't show damage when they get shot and bodies disappear after
> they are killed- but there is some blood and a few (fixed) instances
> of torn up corpses. This is markedly different from games like Call of
> Duty, which are clean and sanitized. Brothers in Arms also has some
> adult language, probably to make it feel "more realistic".
>
Don't understand why the bodies vanish, that just seems a bit stupid in
a game that portraits itself as realistic.

> Speaking of realism -another supposed hallmark of the game- I found it
> rather lacking. Oh, not the situation or setting; there are some great
> comparisons of the real-life locations versus the digital
> representations, and they are very similar. But as far as gameplay
> goes, it's pretty much like any other shooter; it's an arcade version
> of the war. This, of course, makes the game more fun, but it goes
> contrary to the "true to life" marketing of the game.
>
> Although the game is of average length -perhaps 20 hours- the
> developers decided to increase this by tossing in various
> "unlockables" that can only be achieved by finishing the game on its
> various difficulty levels. These include various movies, animatics,
> photos and historical data, as well as cheats and -annoyingly- the
> "authentic" difficulty level. Given how linear the game is, there
> would be little reason to replay the game otherwise.
>
> BIA supports multiplayer via Internet and LAN. Once again, this is an
> area that goes unreviewed, as I have no interest in these game modes.
> But it's nice to see it's there , although there doesn't seem to be a
> much desired co-operative mode.
>
> Brothers in Arms was possibly the buggiest game I have played in a
> good while; not only did I experience a couple crash-to-desktops
> (something I very, very rarely experience), but there were also
> several scripting bugs when the AI would get "stuck", essentially
> stopping the game.
>
Not found any problems with that myself just a couple of crashes to the
desktop but I've always found my ATI card to be a bit buggy.

>
> In the end, I was disappointed with Brothers in Arms. Not because it
> was really that bad a game, but because it failed to live up to its
> potential. In almost every area it was matched or bettered by
> competing products, some of which were released a year or more ago.
> Had it been released in late 2003 or early 2004, it would have been an
> instant classic, but the bar has been raised since then. For sheer WW2
> action exhilaration, we have Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Medal of
> Honor, and Call of Duty. For the tactical combat aspect, we have games
> like Full Spectrum Warrior and Ghost Recon. All these games are as
> good or are better than BIA. And unfortunately, it can't help but be
> compared to these games because it borrows so many of their aspects.
> Nor does it help that it uses the most overplayed setting in gaming
> history. And that's a shame because -I'll say it again- it is not a
> bad game. It just fails to stand out and one has a great sense of
> ennui whilst playing. Brothers in Arms isn't a game to be avoided, but
> nor is it a product that one rushes out to get. It's... average.
>
I think that the hype is probably the biggest problem with BIA,
fortunately I somehow missed most of it so enjoy the game for what it is
- an FPS with a bit more thinking but not to much.

On the question of the most overplayed setting in gaming history I'm
really not sure that is true if you compare it to say Sci-Fi setting or
Special Forces settings ... ho hum.

>
> Completely Arbitrary Numerical Score (CANS)
> (for those who like this sort of thing):
> 345/500 (just above average)
>

I'll give it a CANS of 425/500, not exceptional but on a par with Far
Cry and HL2.

>
> System Specs:
> Athlon AMD 3000 XP (Barton)
> 1024 MB RAM
> PNY Verto GeForce 6600 GT w/128 MB (AGP)
> Windows XP
> Brothers in Arms was played at acceptable frame rates at 1280x1024
> resolution, with all settings at highest, anti-aliasing off and
> anisotropy at "2";
>
>
>
>
Related resources
Anonymous
April 3, 2005 10:14:32 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.action (More info?)

Spalls Hurgenson wrote:
> Review: Brothers in Arms - Road to Hill 30
> -----------------------------------------------------
>
> Instructions for mixing a Brothers in Arms cocktail:
> Take 1 part "Call of Duty". Combine with 1 part "Full Spectrum
> Warrior". Mix in Unreal graphics engine. Tweak with bloom lighting and
> blur effects and other minor additions. Sprinkle with a dash of
> realism. Serve while boasting about how revolutionary the game is, but
> not until a year has passed after the bars down the street have
> released similar drinks. That's Brothers in Arms in a nutshell (or a
> cocktail glass).
>
> Brothers in Arms - Road to Hill 30 is -surprise surprise- yet another
> World War 2 first-person shooter. Produced by Ubisoft and Gearbox
> (producers of the Half Life add-on "Opposing Forces"), it is a
> multi-platform game whose most prominent feature seems to be a massive
> marketing campaign. Slightly less important are several "new" features
> added to the first-person-shooter genre, such as tactical command of
> squadmates and being based on real historical events.
>
> Astute readers may have already detected a hint of cynicism in this
> review. It's not that I think Brothers in Arms (henceforth BIA) is a
> bad game; it just seems a year or two late, and I have a hard time
> getting excited about it. Everything from the gameplay to the graphics
> to the setting
> has a "been there, done that" feeling to it. Had BIA been released in
> 2003, it would truly have been revolutionary. As it is, it feels like
> little more than a rehash of other good games that lacks any
> originality.
>
> Take, for instance, the graphics. They're okay, but hardly
> outstanding. The game utilizes a tweaked version of Epic's Unreal
> graphics engine, so it is easy on the eyes, but it doesn't equal the
> graphics of any of the latest games (e.g., Doom, Riddick, Half Life 2,
> etc.). BIA lacked any sort of jaw-dropping moment when the graphic
> intensity just knocks you aback; aside from the addition of bloom
> lighting and (lots of) waving grass, the game barely surpasses the
> visuals of "Call of Duty". This probably has more to do with the art
> direction, as the latest Unreal engines have proven quite capable.
> Nonetheless, the graphics don't really stand out.
>
> The sound is equally mediocre. The weapons fire is acceptable and
> presumably authentic, but that's pretty much true for dozens of other
> World War 2 games that have come out in the years past. The soundtrack
> is the sort of forgettable orchestral theme that so often accompanies
> this sort of game. Some of the other sound effects -such as
> explosions- lack body, and there's a noticeable lack of that
> full-featured cacophony of sound we've come to expect from modern-day
> war games. Extraneous background sounds and Foley obviously got the
> short end of the stick, so the gameworld sounds bare and empty. The
> voice-acting is average at best; there's a lot of shouting but little
> in the way of convincing emotion.
>
> Similarly, the art design fails to stand out in any way. The character
> models are all high-poly, decently textured and well animated, but
> that's par for the course these days. On the other hand, the NPCs
> don't have a wide variety of animations, which makes them seem stiff
> and unalive (the conversation animations were almost comical in their
> retro-ness; the mouths barely moved and the NPCs for the most part
> just stood stiffly besides one another). The texturing was acceptable
> -in fact, a touch above what you find in most "multi-platform" (read:
> console port) games these days, but often lacking in variety.
>
> The level design was fairly linear and very reminiscent of the
> standard fare found in "Call of Duty" or "Medal of Honor", but without
> any of those magnificent set-pieces like CoD's awesome Stalingrad
> assault. Set largely in the hedgerows of Normandy, there wasn't much
> diversity to the environments; it was largely bushes & fields or small
> provincial towns. Of course, this is exactly the sort of thing you
> would expect to see in that part of France, so it's hard to complain
> except that we've seen it so many times before. The levels are average
> sized -perhaps three or four skirmishes each- and take about twenty to
> thirty minutes to get through. There are only a few large open areas;
> for the most part you follow a twisty path between hedges or
> townhouses. At various points this path branches to allow you to flank
> an intervening opposing force, but invariably the branches rejoin
> before the next split, so progression is for the most part very
> linear.
>
> The plot is -like much of the rest of the game- pretty unoriginal:
> airborne soldier drops into Normandy and fights his way through hordes
> of German soldiers as part of the D-Day invasion. Of course, as the
> game is reputedly an accurate re-telling of the 101st's advance
> through Normandy, one might argue this story is the real original and
> other games are the copies... except those other games came out first.
> There's some attempt at including various sub-plots such as how the
> characters deal with the deaths of their friends and the camaraderie
> of soldiers, but this doesn't go very far and falls flat largely due
> to the unconvincing voice-acting.
>
> The hook of the game -the thing that is supposed to set Brothers in
> Arms apart from the score of other WW2 first person shooters- is the
> tactical command of up to six other squadmates (or three squadmates
> and a tank). Alas, BIA once again came late to the scene with this
> idea, and games like "Freedom Fighters" or "Full Spectrum Warrior"
> beat them to the punch. And once again, BIA failed to bring anything
> new to the concept; it never surpassed and sometimes was inferior to
> what had come before.
>
> To be fair, BIA's command interface was fairly straightforward; you
> use one key to toggle between your two squads, and then use a command
> key which brings up a floating icon. Place this icon on the ground and
> the selected squad runs to that location; click this icon on an enemy,
> and you direct the squad's fire at that target. You can also command
> your squad to "fall out" (e.g., take cover) or "fall in" (e.g., follow
> you), as needed. However, I found the default key-mapping made
> commanding the troops a bit more difficult than I'd like (often I'd
> order the troops to run into enemy fire when I accidentally hit the
> "command" key when I meant to hit the "zoom in view" key). However,
> after re-mapping the commands in options my control of the situation
> markedly improved.
>
> BIA also boasts a "situational awareness" mode, which pauses the game
> and displays a zoomed out top-down view of the terrain, showing maybe
> a 100 feet around you. Nominally this is so you can get an idea of
> where the enemy is and how best to flank them; however, given how
> small and linear the levels were, I found this information to be
> completely obvious from the normal view-point. Furthermore, you cannot
> give orders in the "situational awareness" mode, nor can you use it to
> watch how the enemy soldiers move and react to your orders, since it
> pauses the game. Both of these design decisions made the situational
> awareness" mode functionally useless to me and in the end I rarely
> used it.
>
> In design, the gameplay of BIA is supposed to be all about the four
> "F"'s of WW2 close-quarter combat: Find the Enemy, Fix the Enemy with
> suppressing fire, Flank the Enemy, and then Finish them off. You are
> supposed to order one squad (your "fireteam") to a position where they
> can shoot at the bad-guys while you lead your second squad (your
> "assault team") around the corner to take out the enemy from the
> flank.
>
> In practice, I rarely bothered with this rigmarole due to deficiencies
> in the AI. Even from a flanking position the friendly AI had
> difficulty taking out enemy soldiers cowering beneath suppressing
> fire; by and far I did most of the killing in the game. Furthermore,
> despite an obviously valiant attempt by the AI programmers, the
> squaddie's AI was exceptionally poor at making use at cover; I'd order
> my soldiers "move to right behind this conveniently placed fieldstone
> wall" and inevitably one soldier would decide to stand IN FRONT of the
> wall.
>
> Therefore, I usually just stuck my squads somewhere safe, ordered them
> to suppress the enemy, and snuck around and killed the bad guys
> myself, therefore for the most part ignoring the "hook" that was
> supposed to make Brothers in Arms so special. In essence, BIA played
> out just like "Call of Duty", except without the impressive set pieces
> and character (ironically, I felt more attachment to the anonymous
> friendly AIs in CoD than I did with my "buddies" in BIA, probably
> because I had to spend so much work shepherding the squads in Brothers
> whereas I could let the AI cheerfully sacrifice themselves for me in
> COD).
>
> In any event, the "tactical command" element of Brothers in Arms
> largely fell flat for me, and ultimately I played the game largely
> like any other first person shooter due to the various deficiencies in
> keeping the squaddies alive. This was made more difficult with the
> inaccurate (and some argue unrealistic) weapons waver, which made it
> harder to shoot the enemy soldiers, although this did not bother me as
> much as it seems to bother other people.
>
> (I did get the very strong impression that Gearbox originally wanted
> the game to play more like the tactical puzzle-game "Full Spectrum
> Warrior", but later in development bumped up the action aspect of the
> game when FSW wasn't as well received as it might have been because it
> wasn't the first-person shooter people expected it to be. Had Gearbox
> gone one way or another -a full tactical game like "Full Spectrum
> Warrior" or a "true" action shooter, the game probably would have
> stood out from the crowd. As it is, the compromises made to satisfy
> the needs of both genres made the game less exceptional than it could
> have been.)
>
> The enemy AI -while more reactive than in "Full Spectrum Warrior"- was
> less dynamic than it could have been; to some degree they shifted fire
> in reaction to various flanking maneuvers on the player's part, but
> rarely retreated and never advanced (except for scripted movements
> when they initially ran into position). They stayed in one position
> and the player maneuvered around them. BIA also utilized in several
> areas that hobgoblin of poor game design, endless enemy respawns. Game
> designers rely on respawns when they can't write compelling situations
> or code good AI, and therefore instead rely on brute force to rack up
> the difficulty level.
>
> Another failing of BIA's gameplay is that it ultimately becomes very
> repetitive: move forward to enemy position, situate squad to suppress
> enemy and fix them in place, maneuver around to flank, repeat ad
> infinitum. Things become marginally more intense in the few levels
> that you have tank support (tanks can only be taken out by panzerfaust
> rocket-launchers, anti-tank emplaced cannons or other tanks), but only
> marginally so (you use the tank to kill the machine-gun nest that's
> covering the rear approach to an anti-tank weapon, use the squad to
> take out the anti-tank weapon, and then repeat).
>
> One area that BIA does stand apart from other recent WW2 shooters is
> that it, amazingly, has gore. It is not a significantly bloody game
> -units don't show damage when they get shot and bodies disappear after
> they are killed- but there is some blood and a few (fixed) instances
> of torn up corpses. This is markedly different from games like Call of
> Duty, which are clean and sanitized. Brothers in Arms also has some
> adult language, probably to make it feel "more realistic".
>
> Speaking of realism -another supposed hallmark of the game- I found it
> rather lacking. Oh, not the situation or setting; there are some great
> comparisons of the real-life locations versus the digital
> representations, and they are very similar. But as far as gameplay
> goes, it's pretty much like any other shooter; it's an arcade version
> of the war. This, of course, makes the game more fun, but it goes
> contrary to the "true to life" marketing of the game.
>
> Although the game is of average length -perhaps 20 hours- the
> developers decided to increase this by tossing in various
> "unlockables" that can only be achieved by finishing the game on its
> various difficulty levels. These include various movies, animatics,
> photos and historical data, as well as cheats and -annoyingly- the
> "authentic" difficulty level. Given how linear the game is, there
> would be little reason to replay the game otherwise.
>
> BIA supports multiplayer via Internet and LAN. Once again, this is an
> area that goes unreviewed, as I have no interest in these game modes.
> But it's nice to see it's there , although there doesn't seem to be a
> much desired co-operative mode.
>
> Brothers in Arms was possibly the buggiest game I have played in a
> good while; not only did I experience a couple crash-to-desktops
> (something I very, very rarely experience), but there were also
> several scripting bugs when the AI would get "stuck", essentially
> stopping the game.
>
>
> In the end, I was disappointed with Brothers in Arms. Not because it
> was really that bad a game, but because it failed to live up to its
> potential. In almost every area it was matched or bettered by
> competing products, some of which were released a year or more ago.
> Had it been released in late 2003 or early 2004, it would have been an
> instant classic, but the bar has been raised since then. For sheer WW2
> action exhilaration, we have Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Medal of
> Honor, and Call of Duty. For the tactical combat aspect, we have games
> like Full Spectrum Warrior and Ghost Recon. All these games are as
> good or are better than BIA. And unfortunately, it can't help but be
> compared to these games because it borrows so many of their aspects.
> Nor does it help that it uses the most overplayed setting in gaming
> history. And that's a shame because -I'll say it again- it is not a
> bad game. It just fails to stand out and one has a great sense of
> ennui whilst playing. Brothers in Arms isn't a game to be avoided, but
> nor is it a product that one rushes out to get. It's... average.
>
>
> Completely Arbitrary Numerical Score (CANS)
> (for those who like this sort of thing):
> 345/500 (just above average)
>
>
> System Specs:
> Athlon AMD 3000 XP (Barton)
> 1024 MB RAM
> PNY Verto GeForce 6600 GT w/128 MB (AGP)
> Windows XP
> Brothers in Arms was played at acceptable frame rates at 1280x1024
> resolution, with all settings at highest, anti-aliasing off and
> anisotropy at "2";
>
>
>
>



I just felt like quoting that long review again for no particular reason.
Anonymous
April 3, 2005 10:57:30 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.action (More info?)

"Redmond du Barrymond" <redmond@STUFFIT.invalid> wrote in message
news:199051hm4m79r76bj1ckrk9r5ivv705i16@4ax.com...
> On Sun, 03 Apr 2005 09:41:59 GMT, Spalls Hurgenson <yoinks@ebalu.com>
> wrote:
>
>>For sheer WW2
>>action exhilaration, we have Return to Castle Wolfenstein
>
> Please, don't include that arcade fantasy shooter under WWII games.

*It was mediocre at best*.

In *your* opinion.
--
Les
April 3, 2005 10:57:31 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.action (More info?)

"Les Steel" <a@aolnot.com> wrote in message
news:3bap4aF699j5iU1@individual.net...
>
> "Redmond du Barrymond" <redmond@STUFFIT.invalid> wrote in message
> news:199051hm4m79r76bj1ckrk9r5ivv705i16@4ax.com...
>> On Sun, 03 Apr 2005 09:41:59 GMT, Spalls Hurgenson <yoinks@ebalu.com>
>> wrote:
>>
>>>For sheer WW2
>>>action exhilaration, we have Return to Castle Wolfenstein
>>
>> Please, don't include that arcade fantasy shooter under WWII games.
>
> *It was mediocre at best*.
>
> In *your* opinion.

I enjoyed the game, living dead and all, but it's the last game I'd suggest
to somebody looking for "WW2 action".
Anonymous
April 3, 2005 10:57:31 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.action (More info?)

On Sun, 3 Apr 2005 18:57:30 +0100, "Les Steel" <a@aolnot.com> wrote:


>*It was mediocre at best*.
>
>In *your* opinion.

Informed opinion.
April 4, 2005 12:16:59 AM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.action (More info?)

"Smart Feet" <smartfeet@yourshoes.com> wrote in message
news:coW3e.4688$tI6.2032@fe2.columbus.rr.com...
> Spalls Hurgenson wrote:
>> Review: Brothers in Arms - Road to Hill 30
>> -----------------------------------------------------
>>
>> Instructions for mixing a Brothers in Arms cocktail:
>> Take 1 part "Call of Duty". Combine with 1 part "Full Spectrum
>> Warrior". Mix in Unreal graphics engine. Tweak with bloom lighting and
>> blur effects and other minor additions. Sprinkle with a dash of
>> realism. Serve while boasting about how revolutionary the game is, but
>> not until a year has passed after the bars down the street have
>> released similar drinks. That's Brothers in Arms in a nutshell (or a
>> cocktail glass).
>>
>> Brothers in Arms - Road to Hill 30 is -surprise surprise- yet another
>> World War 2 first-person shooter. Produced by Ubisoft and Gearbox
>> (producers of the Half Life add-on "Opposing Forces"), it is a
>> multi-platform game whose most prominent feature seems to be a massive
>> marketing campaign. Slightly less important are several "new" features
>> added to the first-person-shooter genre, such as tactical command of
>> squadmates and being based on real historical events.
>>
>> Astute readers may have already detected a hint of cynicism in this
>> review. It's not that I think Brothers in Arms (henceforth BIA) is a
>> bad game; it just seems a year or two late, and I have a hard time
>> getting excited about it. Everything from the gameplay to the graphics
>> to the setting has a "been there, done that" feeling to it. Had BIA been
>> released in
>> 2003, it would truly have been revolutionary. As it is, it feels like
>> little more than a rehash of other good games that lacks any
>> originality. Take, for instance, the graphics. They're okay, but hardly
>> outstanding. The game utilizes a tweaked version of Epic's Unreal
>> graphics engine, so it is easy on the eyes, but it doesn't equal the
>> graphics of any of the latest games (e.g., Doom, Riddick, Half Life 2,
>> etc.). BIA lacked any sort of jaw-dropping moment when the graphic
>> intensity just knocks you aback; aside from the addition of bloom
>> lighting and (lots of) waving grass, the game barely surpasses the
>> visuals of "Call of Duty". This probably has more to do with the art
>> direction, as the latest Unreal engines have proven quite capable.
>> Nonetheless, the graphics don't really stand out.
>>
>> The sound is equally mediocre. The weapons fire is acceptable and
>> presumably authentic, but that's pretty much true for dozens of other
>> World War 2 games that have come out in the years past. The soundtrack
>> is the sort of forgettable orchestral theme that so often accompanies
>> this sort of game. Some of the other sound effects -such as
>> explosions- lack body, and there's a noticeable lack of that
>> full-featured cacophony of sound we've come to expect from modern-day
>> war games. Extraneous background sounds and Foley obviously got the
>> short end of the stick, so the gameworld sounds bare and empty. The
>> voice-acting is average at best; there's a lot of shouting but little
>> in the way of convincing emotion.
>>
>> Similarly, the art design fails to stand out in any way. The character
>> models are all high-poly, decently textured and well animated, but
>> that's par for the course these days. On the other hand, the NPCs
>> don't have a wide variety of animations, which makes them seem stiff
>> and unalive (the conversation animations were almost comical in their
>> retro-ness; the mouths barely moved and the NPCs for the most part
>> just stood stiffly besides one another). The texturing was acceptable
>> -in fact, a touch above what you find in most "multi-platform" (read:
>> console port) games these days, but often lacking in variety.
>>
>> The level design was fairly linear and very reminiscent of the
>> standard fare found in "Call of Duty" or "Medal of Honor", but without
>> any of those magnificent set-pieces like CoD's awesome Stalingrad
>> assault. Set largely in the hedgerows of Normandy, there wasn't much
>> diversity to the environments; it was largely bushes & fields or small
>> provincial towns. Of course, this is exactly the sort of thing you
>> would expect to see in that part of France, so it's hard to complain
>> except that we've seen it so many times before. The levels are average
>> sized -perhaps three or four skirmishes each- and take about twenty to
>> thirty minutes to get through. There are only a few large open areas;
>> for the most part you follow a twisty path between hedges or
>> townhouses. At various points this path branches to allow you to flank
>> an intervening opposing force, but invariably the branches rejoin
>> before the next split, so progression is for the most part very
>> linear.
>>
>> The plot is -like much of the rest of the game- pretty unoriginal:
>> airborne soldier drops into Normandy and fights his way through hordes
>> of German soldiers as part of the D-Day invasion. Of course, as the
>> game is reputedly an accurate re-telling of the 101st's advance
>> through Normandy, one might argue this story is the real original and
>> other games are the copies... except those other games came out first.
>> There's some attempt at including various sub-plots such as how the
>> characters deal with the deaths of their friends and the camaraderie
>> of soldiers, but this doesn't go very far and falls flat largely due
>> to the unconvincing voice-acting.
>>
>> The hook of the game -the thing that is supposed to set Brothers in
>> Arms apart from the score of other WW2 first person shooters- is the
>> tactical command of up to six other squadmates (or three squadmates
>> and a tank). Alas, BIA once again came late to the scene with this
>> idea, and games like "Freedom Fighters" or "Full Spectrum Warrior"
>> beat them to the punch. And once again, BIA failed to bring anything
>> new to the concept; it never surpassed and sometimes was inferior to
>> what had come before.
>>
>> To be fair, BIA's command interface was fairly straightforward; you
>> use one key to toggle between your two squads, and then use a command
>> key which brings up a floating icon. Place this icon on the ground and
>> the selected squad runs to that location; click this icon on an enemy,
>> and you direct the squad's fire at that target. You can also command
>> your squad to "fall out" (e.g., take cover) or "fall in" (e.g., follow
>> you), as needed. However, I found the default key-mapping made
>> commanding the troops a bit more difficult than I'd like (often I'd
>> order the troops to run into enemy fire when I accidentally hit the
>> "command" key when I meant to hit the "zoom in view" key). However,
>> after re-mapping the commands in options my control of the situation
>> markedly improved.
>>
>> BIA also boasts a "situational awareness" mode, which pauses the game
>> and displays a zoomed out top-down view of the terrain, showing maybe
>> a 100 feet around you. Nominally this is so you can get an idea of
>> where the enemy is and how best to flank them; however, given how
>> small and linear the levels were, I found this information to be
>> completely obvious from the normal view-point. Furthermore, you cannot
>> give orders in the "situational awareness" mode, nor can you use it to
>> watch how the enemy soldiers move and react to your orders, since it
>> pauses the game. Both of these design decisions made the situational
>> awareness" mode functionally useless to me and in the end I rarely
>> used it. In design, the gameplay of BIA is supposed to be all about the
>> four
>> "F"'s of WW2 close-quarter combat: Find the Enemy, Fix the Enemy with
>> suppressing fire, Flank the Enemy, and then Finish them off. You are
>> supposed to order one squad (your "fireteam") to a position where they
>> can shoot at the bad-guys while you lead your second squad (your
>> "assault team") around the corner to take out the enemy from the
>> flank. In practice, I rarely bothered with this rigmarole due to
>> deficiencies
>> in the AI. Even from a flanking position the friendly AI had
>> difficulty taking out enemy soldiers cowering beneath suppressing
>> fire; by and far I did most of the killing in the game. Furthermore,
>> despite an obviously valiant attempt by the AI programmers, the
>> squaddie's AI was exceptionally poor at making use at cover; I'd order
>> my soldiers "move to right behind this conveniently placed fieldstone
>> wall" and inevitably one soldier would decide to stand IN FRONT of the
>> wall. Therefore, I usually just stuck my squads somewhere safe, ordered
>> them
>> to suppress the enemy, and snuck around and killed the bad guys
>> myself, therefore for the most part ignoring the "hook" that was
>> supposed to make Brothers in Arms so special. In essence, BIA played
>> out just like "Call of Duty", except without the impressive set pieces
>> and character (ironically, I felt more attachment to the anonymous
>> friendly AIs in CoD than I did with my "buddies" in BIA, probably
>> because I had to spend so much work shepherding the squads in Brothers
>> whereas I could let the AI cheerfully sacrifice themselves for me in
>> COD).
>>
>> In any event, the "tactical command" element of Brothers in Arms
>> largely fell flat for me, and ultimately I played the game largely
>> like any other first person shooter due to the various deficiencies in
>> keeping the squaddies alive. This was made more difficult with the
>> inaccurate (and some argue unrealistic) weapons waver, which made it
>> harder to shoot the enemy soldiers, although this did not bother me as
>> much as it seems to bother other people.
>>
>> (I did get the very strong impression that Gearbox originally wanted
>> the game to play more like the tactical puzzle-game "Full Spectrum
>> Warrior", but later in development bumped up the action aspect of the
>> game when FSW wasn't as well received as it might have been because it
>> wasn't the first-person shooter people expected it to be. Had Gearbox
>> gone one way or another -a full tactical game like "Full Spectrum
>> Warrior" or a "true" action shooter, the game probably would have
>> stood out from the crowd. As it is, the compromises made to satisfy
>> the needs of both genres made the game less exceptional than it could
>> have been.)
>>
>> The enemy AI -while more reactive than in "Full Spectrum Warrior"- was
>> less dynamic than it could have been; to some degree they shifted fire
>> in reaction to various flanking maneuvers on the player's part, but
>> rarely retreated and never advanced (except for scripted movements
>> when they initially ran into position). They stayed in one position
>> and the player maneuvered around them. BIA also utilized in several
>> areas that hobgoblin of poor game design, endless enemy respawns. Game
>> designers rely on respawns when they can't write compelling situations
>> or code good AI, and therefore instead rely on brute force to rack up
>> the difficulty level.
>>
>> Another failing of BIA's gameplay is that it ultimately becomes very
>> repetitive: move forward to enemy position, situate squad to suppress
>> enemy and fix them in place, maneuver around to flank, repeat ad
>> infinitum. Things become marginally more intense in the few levels
>> that you have tank support (tanks can only be taken out by panzerfaust
>> rocket-launchers, anti-tank emplaced cannons or other tanks), but only
>> marginally so (you use the tank to kill the machine-gun nest that's
>> covering the rear approach to an anti-tank weapon, use the squad to
>> take out the anti-tank weapon, and then repeat).
>>
>> One area that BIA does stand apart from other recent WW2 shooters is
>> that it, amazingly, has gore. It is not a significantly bloody game
>> -units don't show damage when they get shot and bodies disappear after
>> they are killed- but there is some blood and a few (fixed) instances
>> of torn up corpses. This is markedly different from games like Call of
>> Duty, which are clean and sanitized. Brothers in Arms also has some
>> adult language, probably to make it feel "more realistic".
>>
>> Speaking of realism -another supposed hallmark of the game- I found it
>> rather lacking. Oh, not the situation or setting; there are some great
>> comparisons of the real-life locations versus the digital
>> representations, and they are very similar. But as far as gameplay
>> goes, it's pretty much like any other shooter; it's an arcade version
>> of the war. This, of course, makes the game more fun, but it goes
>> contrary to the "true to life" marketing of the game.
>>
>> Although the game is of average length -perhaps 20 hours- the
>> developers decided to increase this by tossing in various
>> "unlockables" that can only be achieved by finishing the game on its
>> various difficulty levels. These include various movies, animatics,
>> photos and historical data, as well as cheats and -annoyingly- the
>> "authentic" difficulty level. Given how linear the game is, there
>> would be little reason to replay the game otherwise.
>>
>> BIA supports multiplayer via Internet and LAN. Once again, this is an
>> area that goes unreviewed, as I have no interest in these game modes.
>> But it's nice to see it's there , although there doesn't seem to be a
>> much desired co-operative mode.
>>
>> Brothers in Arms was possibly the buggiest game I have played in a
>> good while; not only did I experience a couple crash-to-desktops
>> (something I very, very rarely experience), but there were also
>> several scripting bugs when the AI would get "stuck", essentially
>> stopping the game. In the end, I was disappointed with Brothers in Arms.
>> Not because it
>> was really that bad a game, but because it failed to live up to its
>> potential. In almost every area it was matched or bettered by
>> competing products, some of which were released a year or more ago.
>> Had it been released in late 2003 or early 2004, it would have been an
>> instant classic, but the bar has been raised since then. For sheer WW2
>> action exhilaration, we have Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Medal of
>> Honor, and Call of Duty. For the tactical combat aspect, we have games
>> like Full Spectrum Warrior and Ghost Recon. All these games are as
>> good or are better than BIA. And unfortunately, it can't help but be
>> compared to these games because it borrows so many of their aspects.
>> Nor does it help that it uses the most overplayed setting in gaming
>> history. And that's a shame because -I'll say it again- it is not a
>> bad game. It just fails to stand out and one has a great sense of
>> ennui whilst playing. Brothers in Arms isn't a game to be avoided, but
>> nor is it a product that one rushes out to get. It's... average.
>>
>>
>> Completely Arbitrary Numerical Score (CANS)
>> (for those who like this sort of thing): 345/500 (just above average)
>>
>>
>> System Specs:
>> Athlon AMD 3000 XP (Barton)
>> 1024 MB RAM
>> PNY Verto GeForce 6600 GT w/128 MB (AGP)
>> Windows XP
>> Brothers in Arms was played at acceptable frame rates at 1280x1024
>> resolution, with all settings at highest, anti-aliasing off and
>> anisotropy at "2";
>
>
>
> I just felt like quoting that long review again for no particular reason.

That must be really annoying to some people. Not I, however.
!