In a World That Doesn't Need Another WWII FPS, You Need This Game
The game uses a dirty, gritty look to excellently create the feeling that you're actually in these scenarios. The overall presentation will definitely remind you of films such as Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers. The character models in this game are excellent. Each man has his own unique characteristics to his armor and gear so that you will not only recognize them up close, but from afar. The environments are just as good and show some real dedication from the art department to fully represent what northern France was like at the time. Every location is unique and nothing seems to be reused. The game simply screams "authentic." It's not the best looking game on the Xbox, but it may be the most realistic. Does that make any sense?
If you played Full Spectrum Warrior, you may recognize some of the commands here. Most of the game, while definitely not a "strategy" game, is about strategy. Supressing, sneaking, diversions, flanking, etc. By holding L, you can set waypoints in real-time to send your men. If you have an enemy targetted and press L, your guys will fire continuously at those enemies to supress them while you flank and attack. Non-suppressed enemies will have a red circle above them. The more you and/or your men fire at them, the grayer the circle gets to signify the level of suppression. If you press R while holding L, everyone will rush the enemy kamikaze style. It's highly efficient and not too heavy on the tactics to turn FPS fans off. Aside from the strategical aspect of the game, Brothers in Arms is thet most intense gameplay you're going to find in a WWII shooter this side of the PC. This game is what Call of Duty: Finest Hour should have been. Your M1 Carbines and Thompsons feel like they should, and have the varying accuracy that you would expect from the era. Another thing worth noting is that the game turns off the reticle by default. This makes the game more realistic, but ALOT harder. For more realism you can even turn off the suppression indicators. Again, you won't find better WWII gameplay anywhere else other than PC.
The sound design is well done. With the volume up and surround sound on, you're really going to get sucked in. The voice-overs are pretty good as well, and deliver the sense of dread that each of the soldiers feel. They don't pull any punches with the script either. If someone gets hit, they're likely to shout something like "FUCK! I've been hit! ...oh shit..." It's interesting seeing how each deal with the duty they are burdened with. Through these voice-overs you do begin to care about each one of these guys.
The single player campaign is some of the best you'll find on the Xbox in this genre. What's really cool is that the missions change slightly each time through. Enemies won't always be in the same spots and small environmental changes take place as well. The game is also playable on Xbox Live. Matches are limited to 4 players max, since each player has his own squad. One team has an objective to accomplish, while the other team simply has to stop them. It's kinda like Radio in CoD, but not quite as good. The defending team should be trying to do something other than just kill the other guys. It would've made things a lot more interesting. Either way though, it's something new for Xbox Live players and it's nice to see something other than Deathmatch variations.
While WWII games are a dime a dozen these days, Brothers in Arms stands apart from the rest of the Xbox entries. You aren't a Medal of Honor super soldier, and you don't wield a flamethrower with an id logo on it. You are an ordinary 23 year-old doing extraordinary things over the course of a week. Brothers in Arms is an all around excellent game and definitely worth picking up on the Xbox if you aren't a PC gamer and have been missing out on games like Call of Duty and BF1942. Even if you have already enjoyed the elite PC WWII games, Brothers in Arms will be the next entry on your list of elite WWII shooters. I just hope that the addition of a subtitle to the game means that this is Ubisoft's next big franchise.
*** This review was written for Flamevault.com shortly after the game's release. ***