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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Shooter / Strategy

 

Publisher

Ubisoft

 

Developer

Gearbox

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

March 2005

 

 

- Good visuals
- Excellent and Unique Multiplayer
- Intelligent AI
- Single player campaign is extremely enjoyable and not very linear
- Tons of extras
- Best weapons modeling of any WWII shooter
- One of the most emotional and riveting experiences youíll ever have with a video game

 

 

- No cooperative play
- Some noticeable hiccups in the frame rate
- Rare audio glitches

 

 

Review: Medal of Honor - Frontline (XB)

Review: Return to Castle Wolfenstein - Tides of War (XB)

Review: Call of Duty (PC)

Review: Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway (360)

 

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Brothers in Arms: The Road to Hill 30

Score: 9.4 / 10

 

road to hill 30 review          road to hill 30 review

 

World War II (WWII) games are at the current height of their success. Medal of Honor and Call of Duty are some of the notable franchises worth mentioning when it comes to WWII first person shooters. Call of Duty recently set the bar for what a WWII shooter should play like (at least on the PC). Late last year Activision shipped the console version of Call of Duty, which was mediocre at best. When Ubi Soft announced Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 (BIA) in May of last year, I was skeptical of whether BIA would deliver on all its promises like Call of Duty failed to do on the Xbox. Fortunately BIA delivers on all its promises and ends up being one of the most riveting and emotional gaming experiences youíll ever have.

First and foremost itís important to note that BIA plays differently than Call of Duty and Medal of Honor, since BIA focuses heavily on squad-based combat and real fire and maneuver tactics used by soldiers. Unlike Call of Duty, BIA allows you to take command of one or two fire teams (depending on the mission) and you can issue simple commands for your squad to carry out. The basic premise of the game is to

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find the enemy, suppress the enemy then flank and eliminate the enemy. In order to accomplish this, the developers created the environments in such a manner that there are multiple pathways for approaching the opposing force, so the game doesnít funnel the player in a specific way.

BIA is based on a true story and chronicles the heroic battles that the men of the 502nd Parachute Regiment (Fox Company). The entire

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story of the game takes place over a week. The game begins with you and your soldiers parachuting into Normandy, the night before D-Day. You and your soldiers move along the French countryside and small towns and rid them of German control. You play the role of Matt Baker, who is a young nervous soldier that isnít ready to be squad leader. Before each mission in the game, your character philosophically describes the physical and mental constraints of war on himself and his fellow soldiers.

Where BIA really separates itself from Call of Duty and Medal of Honor is that the game places a heavy emphasis on the personality of the characters. The game features about twenty or so characters, each with their own unique behavior and each react differently in combat. You really begin to care about the well being of your soldiers.

One of the best parts of BIA is how intelligent the AI is. Your soldiers respond quickly to your commands and carry them out effectively. Not only that, your soldiers will do things like find the best possible cover when being shot at or shooting at an enemy, rather than standing in the open. The AI for the German soldiers is also extremely impressive. The German soldiers use the same flanking maneuvers that your own soldiers use and the enemy soldiers can usually sense when they are most vulnerable too. In some cases if you throw a grenade at the enemy and they are not properly suppressed, they will throw the grenade back at you.


In some missions youíll also get to give commands to one or two tanks as well. The commands that you can give your soldiers are rather simple, but effective. You can tell your soldiers to move to a certain position, suppress the enemy with gunfire, charge an enemy or follow your lead.

You can really tell that the developers wanted to give gamers an authentic war experience. This is best represented in how detailed the environments are. The developers actually traveled to Normandy and studied aerial reconnaissance photos in order to get the environments looking right.

The environments are stunning and the character models look frighteningly real. Everything from muzzle flashes to grenades exploding look superb. One of the most impressive details is the saturation effects in the game. When your character is too close to a grenade or mortar going off, youíll experience a shock effect. Everything around you becomes blurry and slows down. BIA also proves to probably the most graphic WWII shooter out there. Youíll see soldiers blown apart by bombs, limbs blown off and other such graphic scenes. Itís understandable to see this amount of gore since the developers were keen to get the point across that war is hell.

 

road to hill 30 review         road to hill 30 review


There are a lot of other details the developers included such as water, mud and blood splattering or splashing on the screen. Youíll also come across nice little background details such as tracer fire and planes flying overhead. The only real problem with the gameís visuals is that there tends to be some noticeable hiccups in the frame rate during heavy firefights, especially towards the end of the game.

The guns are modeled accurately. Itís almost impossible to kill an enemy from long range, shooting from the hip. Youíre almost always required to aim down your weapons sights to take out the enemy. The shooting is made more difficult by the fact that your rifle is usually in motion when youíre looking through your sights. Depending on whether youíre crouched or standing will also affect the accuracy of your shot.

One of the best gameplay mechanics in BIA is the situational awareness mode. This mode freezes the action and you can survey the battlefield and look for the best route to approach the enemy. This gives you a great amount of information about the environment youíre operating in.

The single player campaign consists of twenty or so missions. While youíll probably be able to blow through the campaign in less than a week, there is plenty of reason to go back for more. Beating different missions of the game on varying difficulty levels unlock a number of extras in the game. The extras in the game include reconnaissance photos, information on American and German weaponry and many other things.

BIA multiplayer component is one that is unique, extremely engaging and addictive. Rather than having some vanilla style multiplayer modes like team Deathmatch or King of the Hill, BIA multiplayer modes are all objective based. One team plays as the Americans and the other team plays as the Germans. Each of the multiplayer game types always has one team on offense (usually the Americans) and one team on defense (usually the Germans).

BIA supports online play for up to four players. Each player controls his or her own AI controlled squad, so a majority of characters in a game are AI controlled. Basically you give the same commands to your AI controlled squad that you would in the single player campaign. There is also split screen offline and online play too. Similar to Halo 2, you and a friend can go online and compete against other human opponents.

Unlike a lot of other games in the genre, there is no in-game music. All of the music is played during the menu screen or loading screens in-between levels. Your own soldiers give you a lot of feedback during firefights. Your men will yell out when they are reloading, wounded or when a fellow soldier is dead. During the beginnings of most missions youíll hear your soldiers talk amongst each other. Theyíll joke around, bicker, argue or be in grief over the death of another soldier. There is also quite a bit of profanity during the actual gameplay.

Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 doesnít disappoint on the Xbox, as it has a compelling single player experience and impresses even more with a unique and addictive multiplayer component. Even though BIA was originally scheduled to release late last year, it was definitely worth the wait as BIA is easily the best WWII first person shooter on the Xbox.

- Siddharth Masand
(March 29, 2005)

 

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