Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 Review

I used to love vanilla creme cookies. Couldn’t get enough of them. Until one weekend about a year ago I ate an entire bag in about an hour or so. That pretty much cured me of my obsession with those creamy devils. I couldn’t even look at the bag any more without getting a little woozy. However about a week ago I had one...cookie, not bag. And you know what? It was good. What does this have to do with the PS2 game from Gearbox Software called Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 (BIA)? Simple, too much of a good thing can make you sick but sometimes it’s worth trying again to rediscover why you liked it in the first place. In this case, there have been way too many WWII first person shooters to where I was getting pretty tired of them. But with Brothers in Arms I have found new enjoyment in a saturated genre that I wasn’t sure was possible again. Why? Read on gentle surfer and discover...

Your squad advances under fire.

Brother in Arms follows the real life story of the “Screaming Eagles”, the 101st Airborne Division of the US Army. More specifically you play Sgt. Matt Baker of the 3rd Squad, 3rd Platoon, Fox Company, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. The game follows Baker as he leads his troops during the D-Day invasion. Unlike many first person games, you are almost immediately thrown into action. The first action is actually very intense and you quickly find yourself in a heap of trouble and it’s at this point where you “flashback” to about a week ago and the events that lead you to your current situation.

BIA uses cut-scenes to move the story along and the first one of you and your guys sitting in a drop plane as all hell is breaking loose around the plane is one of the best. It’s from here that you start the “real” game. One of the first things for you to do is to round up your troops as you guys are pretty well spread out. During this time is when the game teaches you how to play with little tutorials. Nothing quite like learning by being thrown into the fire. I have mixed feeling about this type of experience. While I do like the pacing of learning on the fly, it can also be a bit of a hassle. I did find myself trying to read the on-screen instructions at the same time as trying to listen to the other characters informing me about important information. Unfortunately I often missed both and needed to replay the whole thing. Nobody ever said war was fair. (Oh, wait, I guess someone did...never mind.)

What makes Brothers in Arms a cut above the onslaught of other WWII games is a couple of things. The first is a combination of story and emotional connection. Since the basic story is taken from a true story Gearbox had a very solid foundation to work with. A little more complicated was making the player actually interested in what happens to his “brothers” throughout the game. This is done by giving the characters, well, character. You get to know your brothers and can tell differences in each. You can’t underestimate how much more powerful a game experience is when you really care about what’s going on and the outcome for each of the characters.