Brothers In Arms Double Time Review
We've all experienced it one or twice (or more); you get a new game, pop it in and right away, you just KNOW something is wrong. Not "disc read error" or "red rings of death" wrong, but "how did this get past quality control?!" wrong. Whatever anticipation you had previous to your new purchase melts away and your mind starts calculating just how much trade-in you could get if you sold the game today, rather than next week. But few games have stirred these feelings before you are even given a chance to play. Brothers In Arms (BiA): Double Time (OR Road To Hill 30 OR Earned In Blood depending on how you look at it) on the Wii is one of those games that you'll probably hate before you even wave the Wii-mote around for five minutes.
Where, oh where to begin. Let's get the good stuff out of the way first. There's no question that BiA is a bargain; you get not one, but two, games on two separate discs - BiA: Road to Hill 30 and Earned in Blood. It's a shame, though, that both games have already appeared on almost every game system. If you're a fan of the series, it's a safe bet that you've already played and finished these two games, making this new port completely devoid of merit for you BiA faithful. But two games for the price of one will probably be tantalizing to those unfamiliar with the franchise. I kinda feel bad for the latter group. In Atlanta, there is a consumer advocate named Clark Howard. He does an AM radio show every day about money matters, and his favorite line is, "It's never a bargain if you can't afford it." Sadly, in BiA's case, it's not a bargain if the games are terrible.
For a game with so many problems, BiA managed to nail one thing that has stymied developers since the Wii's launch - a Wii FPS with a workable and intuitive control scheme. Granted, the controls in this game aren't as good as Metroid Prime 3 or Medal of Honor, but they are far better than failed attempts like Red Steel. There are a few gimmicks in the control scheme, like an overhead swing to lob a grenade, but I found them to be more of a small, fun distraction than a tacked-on, Wii-mote for the sake of Wii-mote feature. Sure, they get old eventually, but they're still pretty neat to have in your arsenal. A word of warning: Do not attempt the grenade toss in a room with a low ceiling and an overhead fan. Ouch.
One last thing, though it isn't specific to this game, is kudos for Brothers in Arms approach to storytelling. Rather than just mindless point and shoot, BiA games have always skillfully interwoven narrative into the action, rather than using between level cutscenes like so many other games. It is too bad the story is hacky, predictable and boring, making the positive of in-game storytelling into merely a neutral point. If Call of Duty 4's story blew your mind like it did mine, you'll be very disappointed with BiA: Double Time.
Ok, now on to the bad stuff. I purposely put the game's pluses at the top, mainly because I've read other reviews that describe it as without any merit and unplayable. I understand their point of view, as there a lot of things wrong, but BiA is by no means "unplayable." Instead, it's just another WWII shooter that wasn't polished up before it hit store shelves, and that is made perfectly obvious in the first five minutes of game time. The graphics, specifically the characters and animations, are as ugly as sin. Jagged edges, screen tearing blocky polygons, bland environments and textures... pretty much everything in regards to the graphics is pure PS1. Go ahead, pull out some old games and compare BiA to such dated experiences as Nightmare Creatures or the first Tomb Raider. They're about identical in terms of presentation, but those two PS1 games came out in the late '90s. It's 2008… you mean that graphics haven't improved over the past 8-10 years? Shocking.
I already went into the controls above, so I'll skip right to the game's most damning misstep - frame rate slowdown. Most modern games have eliminated this issue altogether, though it still pops up when a whole bunch of stuff is going down in whatever you're playing. Not in BiA. You'll often be marching across an open, enemy-free area and the game will grind to a halt for a second or two. The problem only gets worse during firefights. If you find yourself facing off against a pack of soldiers, BiA will slow down immensely, like Keanu-Reeves-at-the-end-of-The-Matrix slow. But you can't dodge bullets like Neo; instead you'll take damage as the game struggles to keep up. This disaster alone should have been enough to convince Ubisoft that the game was not yet ready to ship.
Even though I played the devil's advocate by listing what turned out right in BiA, it is still just a downright awful game (or games… two discs, remember?). My advice? Avoid this game like the plague.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 31%.