Reviewed by Cameron Bourne | March 14th 2005

Introduction:Because we haven't had enough Gearbox and Ubisoft are releasing a brand new World War 2 shooter on the market. Named Brothers in Arms, Gearbox hopes to break the WW2 first person shooter mold and create a truly real feeling experience. How many times have we heard that before? Read on to find out how Gearbox faired.

The Game:Brothers in Arms is a squad-based first person shooter like Tom Clancy's Rainbow 6, but don't think this is just Rainbow 6 dressed up in a WW2 skin. The truth is Brothers is a totally new and refreshing way of playing FPS's, and it's found in the most unusual setting. Who ever thought a WW2 game would actually go out and try and be innovative? Well, Brothers sure did, and at the same time it created the most realistic game you will ever play. Not the ultra-hard and boring realistic either, but the exciting kind of realistic.

The gameplay in Brothers is flat out its strongest feature. As I said before it is a squad based shooter, so controlling the squad is your biggest task. Thankfully Gearbox has made this task quick and intuitive. All you have to do is hold down the L button and either guide your team behind cover, or to attack an enemy. Of course it gets a little harder when you have two teams to control, but by the time that happens you'll be fully ready to try and meet the challenge. Using one team to flank and the other to give supporting fire is the best strategy, and it proves to be the games best strategy. There are other times when you will be given a tank to command as one of your teams, adding a whole new strategy to the game (and no you cannot get in the tank). Of course you don't have to let your squad do all the work, you're given guns and grenades too and you better know how to use them. You may even find yourself running head on into a group of enemies with your rifle in hand, but this of course will get you killed and you'll soon learn from your mistake.

Then there's the realism, yes Brothers is a WW2 game that strives for intense realism. Almost all WW2 games go for that, the difference is most fail whereas Brothers absolutely succeeds. The whole presentation from the opening scene to the end of the game, Brothers keeps up the realism and that can only add to the experience, as well as making the game feel hard, not too hard though, in fact Brothers nails the perfect level of difficulty. You only have about 1-4 hits and your dead, depending on where they hit. So there are many times when you have to sit back and shoot from a distance, or have your squad give you cover fire while you run in and flank. Never will just be able to run in and Rambo your way through an area. The realism also adds to the intensity of the game, when you're running from one cover to another and bullets are flying past your head, Brothers is going to have your heart pumping. Or when you're running across a field with mortar explosions blowing up all around you, and you're trying lead both yourself and your squad to cover, Brothers will have you hear pumping. How about when you're trying to get an enemy RPG to blow up their tank while also trying to avoid it's fire? Oh yeah, the game will have your heart pumping.

The only real problems for Brothers come in its linearity. It isn't overly linear; in fact there are usually quite a few ways to take down an enemy. The problem is to do it you will have to follow the same path. Invisible and un-invisible walls always blocking you from trying to go somewhere else can make you feel a little bit annoyed. Of course I could also complain about the games length, it's only about 12-15 hours through on a normal difficulty, but for a first person shooter now that's actually not too bad. Plus the game gives you lot's of replay value if you want to unlock extras, or even play on the ultra realistic level (think legendary of Halo 2, but harder). Or if you ever get bored of single player you can make your way online and play the games awesome multiplayer. Taking more of a Splinter Cell approach to online, Brothers only let's you play with up to 4 players. Perfect. This leaves you with 2 players on each team each controlling their own squads. It becomes quite interesting to see what's going to happen when you have one team trying to defend an area and the other team trying to capture it, or carry out a mission. In other words, multiplayer is not just an afterthought in Brothers, but it's a whole new experience that you won't find anywhere else on Live.

Graphics & Sound: Presentation. For Brothers, it's all about presentation. Gearbox tries to create a feeling of actually being in WW2 and they fully succeed. They visited all the locations the game takes place at, and then recreate them to a near perfect level. To help create the experience they add in tons of awesome special effects, explosions, bullets hitting, blood and dirt splatter on your vision, all make the game feel just that much more lifelike. For the actual graphics themselves, Brothers is strong, just not the best. Some characters are pretty plain (mainly the enemies, your allies actually look quite good), and parts of the game are a little bit boring to look at, however you can also get some great looking environments that make up for that.

The sound in Brothers is all about sucking you in. In menus and load screens you will get the dreary sort of soundtrack that you'd expect from a WW2 game, movie or T.V. show, but once you get into the game there is nothing but the sounds of war. Bullets will be ripping by your head, explosions will be going off around you and your allies and enemies will be yelling. The battlefield sounds just like it should, like hell.

Innovation: Innovation is another area where Brothers stands out. The squad aspects haven't really been used like this in a game before. There have been similar feels to a game, such as Full Spectrum Warrior or Rainbow 6, but Brothers differs from both quite a bit. It finds a fine line in between both games, unlike Full Spectrum Warrior you are one person in a first person view, you are given a gun, you shoot, and you alone command the team. Unlike Rainbow 6, Brothers takes some patience and strategy when moving your team to find covers, or to give supporting fire, or to flank. And unlike either game Brothers feels big, your commanding tanks, taking out poles in fields so planes can land, or even parachuting out of a jet. Nowhere in Brother should you feel like you're stuck in one area.

The other area where Brothers innovates is in the multiplayer. The number of players in each game, the squad controlling, and the same intense gameplay as the single player, make Brothers multiplayer feel like something totally different from the whole Xbox Live experience.

Mojo: The mojo for Brothers really comes from its intense, pulse pounding action. Running from cover to cover with explosions and gunfire going off around you is something you really have to experience. Brothers really ends up feeling like you're playing a really good WW2 movie like Saving Private Ryan, or Band of Brothers. As long as your into the game you definitely should not feel bored from it.

Lowdown: Brothers in Arms definitely achieves what it sets out for, creating a true and unique WW2 experience. Do not mistake it for just another WW2 shooter because if you do you will be missing out on one of the best experiences found on the Xbox.

Gameplay: 10, Graphics/Sound: 9, Innovation: 9, Mojo: 8. Final: 9

  • Real Military Tactics - Created under the guidance of Author, Historian and Airborne Ranger, Colonel John Antal, US Army [ret], intuitive and easy-to-use squad controls appeal to both the hardcore and mainstream gaming audience.
  • Real Soldiers - Featuring a cast of more than 20 characters, each having a distinctly unique personality, appearance and style.
  • Revolutionary AI System - Allies and enemies use the standard operating procedures of fire and maneuver to flank and kill their foes.
  • Unprecedented Authenticity - Historically accurate and detailed battlefields, people, events and equipment recreated from official After Action Reports, Army Signal Corps photos, Aerial Reconnaissance Imagery and eyewitness accounts.
  • Innovative Multiplayer Mode - Players command three-man AI teams in a battle of wits and skill to accomplish exciting objectives
  • Extra Bonus Content - More than five hours of "extras" expose rare, historical documents, official maps, photos and features that take you behind-the-scenes for the making of the game.

Brothers In Arms
Road to Hill 30

March 2005