Reviews for Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30

85

One of the greatest WW II shooters ever

Gmen | Dec. 11, 2013 | See all Gmen's reviews »

Most first person shooters pit one man against an army, and this is also true when it comes to World War II shooters. Think of the original Call of Duty or the Wolfenstein series. CoD had other soldiers on your side, but you still ended up doing most of the work, and it relied on scripted sequences that would only kick in once the player character initiated them by moving through a certain area. BiA is different from that. BiA makes it necessary for you to rely on your squad in order to achieve mission objectives, and if played well, you needn’t even fire a shot yourself.

Most of the game takes place in the countryside of Normandy, France. You take on the role of Sgt. Matt Baker and you command your squad which is comprised of two fireteams – one is equipped to lay down covering fire and suppress the enemy, and the other team is the assault team which will flank the enemy and take them out. You can use hay bails, hedgerows, fences, and all sorts of other obstacles as cover. You also have a nifty feature called Situational Awareness, which allows you to view the battlefield from a bird’s eye view, even letting you zoom in and out, so you can plan strategies before going back in to combat where you can assign orders on the fly to your team.

The game uses Unreal Engine 2, and graphically I don’t think the game has aged particularly well. That was always one gripe that I had with it – that I felt it could have looked better considering the technology that was powering it, which was at least more modern than the Quake III Arena engine which powered Call of Duty and Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. Compared to games released the same year it just wasn’t up to snuff as far as looks go. I will say that the facial expressions of soldiers are convincing.

Animation is decent enough, but the AI isn’t the best. Your squad mates rely on you to issue commands, and they aren’t particularly interested in self-preservation, so they won’t actively seek cover if they find themselves out in the open for some reason, making your job much harder than it should be.

Another thing that bugs me is the sound. Smaller details were left out of the game, like footfalls. When running across wide open fields, one would expect to hear heavy footfalls of paratroopers carrying many pounds of gear, the rustle of uniforms and the soft clinking of weapons and ammunition, but this just isn’t the case. Your squad mates are whisper quiet when on the move. It seems Gearbox didn’t learn their lessons from Opposing Force. Tiny details like that niggle me. Apart from that, the weapon sounds seem authentic enough.

After making it through missions and achieving specific objectives and completing missions on different difficulty levels, you are given access to media such as films, photographs, and other bonus material that often serves to educate the player on concepts, weapons and tactics used in the mission, or just used in World War II in general.

The result is a fine if slightly flawed gaming experience that brings the tactical squad-based shooter genre, made popular by the Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon series, to the WW II shooter genre made popular by Medal of Honor and Call of Duty. Those seeking an authentic WW II shooter will find it a worthy candidate indeed.