A revolutionary WWII experiance
Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30, or BIA for short, is a World War 2 first person shooter that brings innovation to a seemingly dead genre of video games. The game is set in Normandy and has you playing as Sergeant Matt Baker as you participate in the airborne invasion of Normandy France.
First before anything is what makes this game truly unique and innovative, the gameplay. This isn’t your run n' gun first person shooter. Instead this game adds more strategy to the mix. There is one simple goal, suppress and flank. You are given 2 squads, an assault team and a fire team. With the fire team you suppress your enemy who is taking cover behind something. With your assault team you try to flank the enemy and grab the kill. While trying to accomplish this task you will have to watch your flanks and make sure you aren’t the victim of a well planned assault. This can be difficult when you are outnumbered and made a really stupid move like get surrounded.
You are probably thinking, “Why even bother taking the time to suppress the enemy, I will just run up to him and shoot him like I always do?” Well in BIA it is not as simple as that. There is no default crosshair. To shoot accurately you have to look down the iron sight of your gun, stop, wait for your character to steady the rifle, and then fire. If you are lucky you will kill the enemy with well placed head shot. This takes away from standard run n’ gun that plagues most games in the genre. Without the crosshair the realism is much higher.
This results in much different battles than you may expect. Your goal is to suppress and flank, without getting flanked yourself. To do this you need to pin down your enemies with lots of gunfire. Then once they are suppressed you must find a flank around them to take them out. This results in much slower paced, more strategic battles.
To aid in suppressing your enemies, meter appears each enemy squad. If the red circle turns grey they are suppressed and will not try to move or shoot at you. This is a very nice addition that helps greatly. Also you are given a situational awareness view that gives you a 3d overview of the battlefield. From this you can tell where you enemies are and set up a strategy accordingly.
You rely on you squad to get you through this game. You cannot beat this game by yourself. Your squad is constantly at your aid. In order to suppress and flank your enemies you need to order one of your teams to fire on the enemy while you or your other squad flanks.
Ordering your squads is very easy. Just pull the left trigger and a little circle appears on the ground in front of you. While holding the trigger you can move this circle and around. When you let go, your squad will move to that area. If you place this trigger over an enemy unit, that squad will fire on the enemy. You can also have your squad charge into an enemy position. If you want your squad just to follow you just hit down on the d-pad.
Your squad’s A.I. is very smart. When you order them to move to a new position they will move there and then find cover. If you leave them alone just to follow you, they will find cover every time you stop. Your squads also will open fire on any enemies they see. This means you don’t have to baby-sit your squads.
Enemy A.I. is also extremely smart. They take cover and try to pin you down. They never just stand in the open, they are always behind cover. The only problem with the enemy A.I. is that they do not move to flank when they have you suppressed. Only on the most difficult setting will they actually flank you. Don’t think that this makes the game easy. Even when they are suppressed, your enemies have deadly aim and if you are not careful, they will kill you very quickly.
If a member of the squad does happen to take one too many bullets and dies, it is not game over. You can loose as many squad members as you want during a mission. They come back each new level, but because you rely so much on your squads in battle, you really don’t want to lose any of them.
Each mission varies. Some missions are your standard kill everything then moves on; others require you to defend certain locations. During the missions you will be given new objectives to complete. Overall there is a good variety that will keep you playing long into the night.
The story focuses on Sergeant Matt Backer and his squad. Before each mission there is a short cut scene that gives more background on the members of your squad and gives each one of them their own distinct personality. This is aided by some excellent voice work. These short cut scenes push the story along.
The graphics are very good. The game nails the gritty war scene perfectly. The environments are nicely detailed and really give you a sense that you are in a middle of a war zone. Character models are beautiful and their animations are for the most part very smooth. The foliage and the trees are all beautifully rendered really bringing the environments to life. The only problem with the graphics is the unsteady frame rate that bogs down when there is a lot of action on the screen at once.
The setting for the game is very different than most other WWII first person shooters. Instead of taking place in a destroyed city or on a crater filled battlefield, the game takes place in the fields and small villages of Normandy. Towards the end of the game the setting changes to a more urban environment, but through most of it you are fighting in the fields and small towns of Normandy France. In the background you will see other towns, some which you have already been to, which gives a stage feeling of satisfaction.
Each level in the game is based on a real place in Normandy. The team at Gearbox used old aerial photos of the land and mapped out where exactly each building and tree was. They also went to Normandy and scouted out the land for elevation.
The sound is absolutely amazing. On top of the superb voice acting, the gun sounds, explosions, and other random sounds of war all sound amazingly realistic. The game supports Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. The surround sound enhances the experience so much more.
There are four different difficulties. Each time you beat a level on a new difficulty you unlock new content to view. Also when you beat the game you unlock something new, a cheat that can be used during the game.
Apart from the single player campaign there is a split screen competitive mode that has each player controlling two squads of men in objective based matches. The online mode supports up to four players each controlling a squad of 3 in objective based matches. Each player gets a squad and then a set number of reinforcements if the player dies he/she just takes command of another solder in the squad. If for the most part the online mode runs smooth, but there were some lag issues.
Overall this is one of the best WWII games ever made. It combines elements of strategy and first person shooting to produce one of the most unique first person shooters ever. The only major problem with the game is that it is to short. Other than that, this game is what fans of WWII shooters have been waiting for.