Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 Xbox Review

May 31, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox, Xbox

If you like your World War II titles authentic, Medal of Honor and Call of Duty both rise to the occasion in many aspects, but if you want your games to also be realistic, the aforementioned two should not be your pick of the bunch. Such run and gun shooters allow you to be literally peppered with bullets before you hit the dirt, Brothers in Arms throws this gung ho approach straight out of the window and settles for realistic warfare instead.

Realism is indeed the keyword in the latest title to take us back to the war torn 1940’s. You fill the heavy boots of Sgt Matt Baker; a reluctant leader of a squad from the 101st Airborne Division, his story plays out over an eight-day period, beginning at the historic date that was D-Day and ending at Hill 30 (hence the title). What gives the game an identity all of its own is the subtle human element, which has been sorely underplayed in many other war-based games.

You really get to know your battlefield brothers, making some of their inevitable deaths a little less trivial then most similar titles. When your buddies go down in a gunfight you can also hear the shouts of the unfortunate soldiers name, making your squad seem all the more close knit. True, that particular downed soldier may return in the next mission, but it’s the small price that had to be paid for such a tightly woven storyline.

The realism is far from lacking in the game itself and makes Medal of Honor and Call of Duty look almost like futuristic shooters, due to how far removed human tanks are from reality. Sgt. Matt Baker is certainly no armoured tank, as it’s literally suicide to meet the enemy head on in many occasions, leaving you to rely on your squad and think about each approach, sometimes before you even fire a single shot.

Key here is employing the suppression and flanking techniques as used by real US Soldiers during the World War II period. When engaging enemy soldiers, a circular symbol appears above their positions indicating their current state. A solid red circle warns you that your German enemy is ready to shoot at you and your men as soon as they get the chance; therefore countering with a hail of suppressing fire should do the trick. Pinning the Germans down with constant gunfire from you and your squad will turn the circle into an unhealthier grey leaving your enemy to cower in their cover and hesitant to shoot as often.

Leaving your squad to suppress the enemy is a valuable lesson you’ll most probably learn after being downed at the very first German hurdle. Suppression allows you to give your enemy the element of surprise by getting to their flank, which especially works a treat when you have two squads under your command. Combining these two combat options weighs heavily in succeeding in this fairly challenging shooter. It’s all handled with minimal button presses as well (even with two squads under your control), making the game all the better for it.

Thankfully the men under your control are far from mindless drones. These guys do have a train of thought and are capable of thinking as individuals in many given situations. Without instruction, your men know when cover is a must and rarely stand out in the open for no apparent reason. They also listen to instruction like any good soldier should and genuinely have some gumption about them. Your German enemies also showcase a stint of intellect and are well aware when to duck out of the way and even move to new areas of cover.

The multi-player is interesting in the way that it doesn’t rely on the usual Death match options to get by, instead it focuses on what makes the single player so great and allows you to command your own squad. This receives the big thumbs up from us, as we have recently been tiring of the same old stuff being recycled time and time again.

Brothers in Arms is one sturdy shooter that has plenty of depth beyond the traditional FPS element of shooting people. Times can be rather tricky and testing when you are in the thick of the action, but we found it all the more rewarding when we prevailed, whether that was through flanking our enemy or lobbing a grenade into the hatch of a fearsome tank. If you like your shooters to look, play and sound realistic and harsh, then you need look no further then this most fitting of examples.