PlayStation 2
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Developed By: Gearbox Software
Published By: Ubisoft
Release Year: 2005
ESRB Rating: Mature for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, and Strong Language
For: PS2, Xbox and PC (reviewed for PS2).

*Created by Texas-based Gearbox Software, Brothers in Arms aims to be one of the most realistic and authentic World War II shooters ever. Based on a true story, the game puts players in the role of Sgt. Matt Baker, a D-Day paratrooper squad leader as he leads the squad through the European campaign. Each battlefield has been meticulously recreated from aerial reconnaissance images, US Army Signal Corps photos and eye-witness accounts of war-torn Normandy. *From IGN.com Brothers In Arms: Road to Hill 30 is the first of two in the Brothers In Arms series for PS2, Xbox and PC. It tries to redefine the genre, which is the WW2 shooter. Bending the rules of the traditional FPS, BIA pits you against the Germans in small bursts instead of massive attacks. The biggest twist is you have your own squad to control and you are not super-human. Suppressing fire is essential and flanking is a necessity if you want to last more than five minutes. Over the course of the game you will learn to command different squads, and even tanks, to lead the allies to victory.

Game Play: 16/20

One thing you will notice when you boot up the game is that it is extremely emotional. The characters are all fleshed out and you feel for them and the things they have to go through to survive the war. It starts off at the end and backtracks to tell the story. The game play relies heavily on team tactics. You MUST use your squad to advance, if you don\'t you will either die or be at a stand-still forever. Cover is also a necessity when engaged in a firefight. Most of the time you will use your squad to suppress the enemy (with an icon showing the level of suppression) and you will sneak around from cover to cover, flanking and taking out the enemy. Reiterating what I said before, you are not super-human. Five or six shots and you go down. Thankfully when you get hit, there is a little splatter that covers the camera in the direction of the hit so if you can quickly find cover. There are no health packs so you have to survive checkpoint to checkpoint (and if you fail a checkpoint enough times the game asks if you want a full recovery to avoid too much frustration, trust me, there\'s enough). The game play is refreshingly different, but there are a few quirks that bring down the score. First of all is your squad: For the most part they are smart enough, but occasionally you will tell them to go to a cover and they will go to the opposite side and be taken out in an instant. Also I found that I can rarely use them for flanking (only if I\'m extremely low on health) as they seem to suicide charge the enemy and sustain many hits. Another problem that plagues the AI (mainly PS2, the Xbox was better with this) is that the enemy does not always stay down when the indicator shows they are fully suppressed. These add some frustration when you go to flank them and they jump up, run towards you and fire away (when they should be trying to stay low for cover). Again this was mainly a problem with the PS2 version, as the Xbox version was more refined. The main campaign lasted me roughly 12 hours and never slowed down, the emotional and accurate story was both intriguing and engrossing. The online multiplayer adds extra life to this game and is also different from all the WW2 shooters. It\'s purely mission-based and extremely fun to play (if you can find anyone online), but there are no death match or capture the flag modes if that\'s what you\'re looking for.

Graphics: 7/10

The game looks great on the PS2. Having played the Xbox version it\'s hard to have an unbiased opinion on the graphics, but taking into consideration the limitations of the PS2 hardware, they really pulled off the authentic look and feel of the gritty WW2 setting. The spotlight is definitely on the detailed character models, which are impressive and they just add to the feeling of knowing these fellow soldiers. The environments are also well done, with the exception of the first level, which is way too dark and a terrible introduction to the game (I had to up the brightness on my TV just to see what I was doing). Unfortunately the biggest problem is the frame rate. In the middle of a firefight, stuttering abounds. Not bad enough to really dampen the game play, but enough to throw off a shot or two. Also, the Xbox version benefited from some great lighting, something that\'s not so apparent in the PS2 version. So comparing it to the Xbox version it\'s slightly lacking, but for a PS2 game, it\'s great. If the frame rate was steady, the score would probably be an 8 or 9.

Sound: 9/10

This game does sound great. Unfortunately with games like Call of Duty and Medal of Honor the effect is lessened as we seem to expect amazing sound out of these games. For the most part the game matches the quality of it\'s peers, but there are a few parts where it could use a boost. The main issue is in the weapon area. To me the guns sound more "POP" than "BANG", again unlike the Xbox version where all the sounds were full and powerful. The two best areas of sound are the voice acting (which is superb) and the sounds of bullets ricocheting off of rocks and sinking into the ground (and people). Some reviews complained that Matt Baker (the user-controlled character) sounded like a poet, when he should have sounded more matter-of-fact. I didn\'t find this to be a problem and I often enjoyed his sentimental blurbs before every chapter. Overall, very well done.

Stability: 5/5

Nothing in this game has caused to think it\'s unstable. The frame rate is rarely steady, but I deducted those marks from the graphics section. It\'s never crashed or had any scripted event not happen and stop progression.

Controls/Interface: 5/5

Who would\'ve thought that commanding squads and tanks while taking cover and shooting at the enemy would be so easy? The controls are very simple, yet deep enough to give you total control over your squad mates. The aiming is functional (and much better without crosshairs), and the other buttons are used to the fullest extent. The HUD is perfectly uncluttered, giving you only a compass and the suppression icons when necessary. Very well done.

Violence: 4.5/10

Violence in a WW2 game?? Of course there is the given kill-or-be-killed theme considering it is an accurate WW2 first person shooter, but it is neither gratuitous or tasteless. You kill small groups of enemy soldiers in self-defense, which sets it apart from other WW2 shooters where you seem to face the entire German army by yourself. The blood is extremely minimal given the Mature rating, and the only gore I\'ve ever seen was a half-second glimpse at the very beginning of someone\'s stomach may have been open, but it was an extremely quick shot and may not have even been that. Overall the violence is never over-the-top and is understandable given the theme, but even though it is in self-defense, you are still taking lives and the small bursts of firefights can get extremely intense when you flank and get up close to the enemy.

Language: 2/10

Whoa. The Brothers are not afraid to let loose some extremely colorful language. The "F" word gets a good workout, and every other word in the book has an appearance in this game. These are said while playing, by squad mates and by Matt Baker, and during cut scenes. They definitely add to the authenticity of the game, but they aren\'t used sparingly. The Brothers also use slang terms for the Germans (including "Krauts" and "Jerries") and frequently take the Lords name in vein (though I do not remember Jesus\' name being used). Overall there are well over 20 "F" words, 25+ "S" words (the more you take hits, the more you hear), 15+ "G--D-----" (many times when you command a tank, Baker will scream "roll G--D-----"), 50+ slang terms for the enemy ("Krauts!" is called pretty much every time an enemy is spotted), and a smattering of crude slangs for anatomy are muttered ("pr---"). Add to that a dozen-or-so mild profanities and you have an authentic and offensive WW2 experience.

Sexual Content: 10/10

The game thankfully doesn\'t include any crude jokes or references to warrant a lower score. The Brothers are concerned about saving themselves and each other that the subject never pops up. Thank you Gearbox!

The Occult/Supernatural: 10/10

No problems here at all. No ghosts, demons, witches, magic, pentagrams, or anything else supernatural is present in this game. Although there is strong speculation that Hitler was involved in the occult, the game mentions nothing of this and indicates nothing to do with the occult.

Cultural/Moral/Ethical: 8/10

The game pits you against the German army, and though you kill the enemy in self-defense, they are doing the same for you. You aren\'t killing mindless monsters or madmen, they are regular men just like you and you are taking their life. The game does not dwell on this fact, and there is nothing more immoral in this game than any other war game on the market. As a plus, you are taught to rely on your squadmates and to protect them. The friendships shine through and even though the men go through troubles with each other (such as one inexperienced soldier surviving when the experienced ones died) they learn that they have to tolerate their squadmates or they will perish.

Totals:

Game Play: 16/20 Graphics: 7/10 Sound: 9/10 Stablility: 5/5 Controls/Interface: 5/5 42/50 Violence: 4.5/10 Language: 2/10 Sexual Content: 10/10 Occult/Supernatural: 10/10 Cultural/Moral/Ethical: 8/10 34.5/50

Overall: 76.5%

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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