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Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 PC DVD-ROM

Published by Ubisoft
Developed by Gearbox Software
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £29.99

Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30, an introduction.

World War II FPS games have become phenomenally popular over the last few years. Games such as Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, Call of Duty and Battlefield 1942 are just three games that have proved to be big successes. Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 is the latest World War II shooter to be released. Of course it's difficult for any FPS to stand out with the wealth of titles in the genre on the PC but when the FPS is a World War II based one it's even more difficult. Does Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 have what it takes to make an impression on the genre?

What's the game about?

Brothers in Arms puts you in the shoes of Sergeant Mat Baker who is part of The 101 st Airborne Division. Baker and his men have been dropped into France just before D-Day. The game includes a single-player campaign and a multiplayer mode (LAN and Internet) that allows for 2 to 4 players. The single player campaign is very enjoyable and isn't your typical FPS experience. The emphasis is on flanking and suppressing your enemies rather than just an outright assault. The game also gives you a few new concepts to deal with (which we will mention in a moment). The multiplayer game is object based with one team attempting to defend a target whilst the other team attempt to destroy it by various methods. In short Brothers in Arms should be a big hit with fans of World War II FPS games.

What's good about the game?

Brother in Arms isn't just a straight forward FPS. Games such as Call of Duty and Medal of Honor are in many ways an 'on the rails' experience in that you follow one linear path from the beginning to the end. There's very little room for actually using thought in these games, although they are both excellent in their own way. Brothers in Arms attempts to makes you stop and think. Go in all guns blazing and you're likely to get shot to a bloody pulp in no time. To survive in this game you'll have to make use of your surroundings and use a strategy. Seemingly impossible sections of the game can be made very manageable if you take the time to plan before your assault the enemy. To this end you have the Situational Awareness View (activated by pressing the V key). The SAV will automatically pause the game (it doesn't pause the game in multiplayer games though) and allow you to formulate a plan by giving you a raised viewpoint that enables you to see your immediate surroundings more clearly.

We said earlier that the key to Brothers in Arms is to flank your enemies and suppress them. The SAV allows you to see the immediate terrain around you as well as the locations of your men and those of the enemies you've already spotted. From this view you can usually pick out a less hazardous route, avoiding machine guns and such like, and effectively suppress your enemy. It's not often that new features in a FPS make such a difference but the SAV is a great inclusion and really makes the game feel different. Controlling your men is also straightforward thanks to a well thought out control scheme. You can control different teams with a combination of a few keys and the mouse buttons and it's a method that works surprisingly well.

What's not so good about the game?

What will probably irk PC gamers is the checkpoint save system. PC gamers are used to tapping a quicksave button every so often so if they come unstuck there's never too much to replay. Brothers in Arms does not allow this and instead you have a console style checkpoint system. To be fair though the checkpoints are never too far apart but if you are playing on the higher difficulty settings (particularly the authentic mode) there are moments when the gaps between checkpoints can seem huge. Load times between missions can also be a bit on the lengthy side but this isn't really a problem as such.

How does it look?

Brothers in Arms is probably the finest looking World War II based FPS to date. The character and terrain graphics are both impressive and will test even the strongest of PC configurations. Running the game at 1280x1024 we were surprised to the game averaged around 32fps. I say surprised because despite this seemingly low frame rate the game remained smooth with only the odd stutter during the big explosions. It is obvious that the developers spent a lot of time in trying to make the game as realistic as the current PC hardware will allow. Everything from the lush tall grass to the massive explosions and battles looks great and it's not often that a PC game that is also released on the consoles looks this good.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

Subtitles can be enabled for Brothers in Arms and once they are you shouldn't have any problems. The tutorial is subtitled so you'll be able to get an idea of how to play the game. All the dialogue that carries the story forward is subtitled (apart from in the tutorials the subtitles are displayed in white text on top of a dark overlay for maximum clarity) so you'll be able to follow the story too which is great. Conversations between Baker and his comrades are also shown in text. Objectives are shown in text and on the SAV and can be recalled at any time. Occasionally you'll encounter enemies and their comments aren't subtitled but this isn't really much of a problem. The game uses a nice amount of icons, such as the command ring and the suppression indicators, to convey information and the game manual explains what the icons mean (as does the tutorial) so you'll have no problems understanding them.

Final thoughts.

With the amount of World War II shooters we have seen over the past few years it's easy to become blasé about other titles stepping into the genre. Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 is sufficiently different to warrant your attention though and it has a unique feel to it which is impressive given the amount of titles covering this period. The SAV and command ring control system really work well and let you feel like you're issuing the orders instead of simply attempting to run through countless enemies. We should also mention that the AI of your team-mates in carrying out these orders is also impressive and they also know when to use their initiative which is something you don't see that often. Gearbox Software have created a great game in Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 and it's one that we hope spawns a sequel.

 

Overall Game Rating: 9.0/10

Deaf Gamers Classification

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It was always going to be difficult for a World War II based FPS to stand out on the PC. Brothers in Arms has enough innovation and quality to do just that though and thankfully it's also a game that deaf gamers can enjoy.

 

 

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