Brothers In Arms: Road To Hill 30
Splinter Cell has a lot to answer for. The rush now to be innovative in the realm of multiplayer gaming is always going to have inevitable casualties, and for all the playability of Brothers In Arms in single-player, online it's not quite so satisfying.
There's nothing really wrong with it - two to four players take control of a squad of Al soldiers (one running the assault team, the other the fire team), battling over ten maps, each with specific mission parameters. That in itself makes a change from just blasting the hell out of everyone, keeping true to the tactical nature of the offline game. Objectives range from blowing fl up (or defending) anti-aircraft guns to delivering orders to the front to setting up ambushes for unwary opponents.
Each player has access to the full range of tactical orders for their squad, taking over the next in command if they fall prey to an enemy bullet. Firefights can be spectacular, with plenty of cover and hustling for position taking place and the Al teammates making a decent enough fist of things.
So far so good - but unfortunately, there are server browser is sparse and devoid of filter searching or organisational options. Ubi.com still has inherent stability problems, and unsubstantiated invalid CD-key errors are common with the service. BIA multiplayer is decent enough over a LAN, with players able to co-ordinate with each other far more effectively.
Sadly, it all just feels like something of a novelty and doesn't really have the weight to stand up against similarty-themed Enemy Territory matches or games of Call of Duty online. Decent, but ultimately shallow.
Download Brothers In Arms: Road To Hill 30
WWII Has Become essential to PC gaming. Indeed, without the pesky bastard antics of Hitler and his Nazi cohorts, a good portion of the gaming industry would still be standing around scratching their heads and wondering what the hell they should base their games on.
While the big name WWII shooters are generally flashy, adrenalin-pumped non-stop action affairs, Brothers In Arms shifted the genre in a new direction with its squad-based tactics and emphasis on gritty realism. Its greater reliance on tactical supremacy put you in charge of squads, as well as drumming the importance of flanking so firmly into your skull that you're likely to start shouting it out in your sleep.
The slower pace certainly isn't for everybody and a lack of decent enemy Al and the use of 'invisible' walls to delimit the playing area can grate, but if you want WWII tactics without having to play an RTS, you won't get more for your tenner anywhere else.
Set in the opening stages of the American entry into World War II, you'll follow the story of a small squad of Paratroopers from their jump on D-Day to the climatic battle this game is named for, the battle at Hill 30. Made with care and detail, Brothers In Arms: Road To Hill 30 was inspired by a true story, following the moments at the opening of the American involvement in the war, carrying you through even the vicious fighting in Carantan. Over the eight days the game details these men at their best and their worst.
The game play in Brothers In Arms: Road To Hill 30 isn't what I'd call refreshing and new, but it is what I'd call good. In the single player campaign, my favorite part is the careful attention Gearbox has paid to fire and move tactics, where you'll use a squad of soldiers to pin a force of enemy troops while you maneuver another squad in a flanking move to catch the opponent off guard, in the open. This game play style, advised and designed by COL. John Antal, US Army (Retired), is meant to simulate the actual squad combat tactics used in World War II. The game does limit your mobility in order to reinforce that simulation, but all in all, it does a great job of making you keep your head down and suppress the enemy with withering fire. Progress through the game on all of its modes, and you'll unlock a host of extra features that detail historical information; clips of the game score, and even cheat codes to help you on your way.
What BIA lacks in seriously high quality graphics, it makes up for in stunningly meticulous design. The facial features of each soldier you meet are detailed and convincing, and while their lip synch system isn't perfect, it does a good job of animating actual speech. Beyond that, some of the game can seem fairly static, as you won't find your guns performing entirely realistically. Semi and fully automatic weapon bolts don't slide, and there's usually very little going on in the local vicinity. Last, the Gearbox Software team spent countless man hours poring over reports, surveillance photography, and detailed surveys of the actual towns in Normandy where the game's fighting takes place. It's amazing to compare the in game footage to actual photography of the scene and note how much care and detail went into this title. Similarly, the game's voice acting talent, while likely not the best you've heard, do a great job of sounding like every guy that could've gone off and fought in World War II, from the tough and gruff sergeant to the somewhat whiny and poetic radio operator.
Without a doubt, even with a few minor problems, this is one of my favorite titles of this year.