2005 Reviews

Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30

  • Review Date: 2010-12
  • Release Date: 2005-03
  • Developer: Gearbox Software
  • Rating: 5.0

This is probably the least enjoyable first person shooter i've played since Halo. Which isn't something I would have expected coming from a studio like Gearbox Software; although they were involved in the PC version of Halo. However their Half-Life expansion packs were both excellent.

I'm probably biased, because what I really want is one-man-army style gameplay. I don't really want to have to use strategic war tactics with my teammates in order to defeat the enemy.

The idea in BIA is to have one team firing on the enemy while you (and another team) flank them to catch them off guard. This gets boring pretty quick, and in the end I just got tired of having to use these tactics. Unfortunately if you don't, it's a very difficult game. Even on easy skill setting you can't play the entire game as you would any other first person shooter. The enemy will mow you down with bullets in no time.

The other problem is that there's no quicksave. Now a few checkpoints per level aren't too bad in some shooters. But when you have a realistic shooter where a few shots could kill you and there's no way to replenish your health, it's very frustrating to have to go back several minutes to a previous checkpoint. What's worse is your health meter is useless. Eventually after a certain amount of shots it'll go red, then after a certain amount more you'll die. It should have been an exact progressive meter, not an inconsistent colour change.

To add to the frustration your teammates are quite useless. On a few levels they managed to get themselves killed by mortar attacks within minutes of the level starting. If I didn't micro-manage them, they'd walk directly into a machine gun and be dead in seconds.

Gearbox made the weapons more realistic than standard shooters. That means you can be standing point-blank in front of your enemy and still somehow miss them. The aiming is designed to be imperfect. I simply found it frustrating rather than a good realistic feature.

And finally we come to the level design and graphics which, again, are a big let down. The levels are all very flat, decorated with bland buildings/houses and fields. The textures are all uninspiring and drab. The only memorable parts of the game were defending a couple of good looking churches.

Overall, the design is not up to the standards of Call of Duty or Medal of Honor, while the gameplay was a nice try for something different, but for me it got frustrating by the end.

 

Brothers in Arms: Earned In Blood

Just a quick extra review of the sequel, Earned In Blood. Released just six months later, this really should have been as a cheaper addon pack or downloadable content. There is nothing new, no upgrades to design or gameplay.

 

Some of the levels are perhaps slightly better looking, but they're still the same bland, horizontal designs from part one. The gameplay, unfortunately, is much harder this time around.

Again with no way to regenerate your health or quicksave, the only way to play this game is meticulously, slowly and reloading from checkpoints a lot. It's very difficult even when you use the flanking idea behind the game because unfortunately your teammates' AI is hopeless a lot of the time. The weapons are all still just as inaccurate as part one, adding to the frustration.

Below average graphics and gameplay that's unbalanced make this a very skippable game.