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Luke
06 Nov, 2005

Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood Review

Xbox Review | We dodge some bullets, slide into the bunkers and prepare to reload.
World War II shooters are becoming an extremely flooded genre in gaming, and the push is constantly on for developers to innovative, rather than recycle ideas. When Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 came out earlier this year it was acclaimed for being a serious shooter with a unique twist, you were able to take control of an entire team and command the team in just about any way you like. It's only been six months since the predecessor was released, so have their been enough improvements to warrant a purchase, or is it just more of the same?

The previous game in the series centred on Sergeant Matt Baker, one of the paratroopers dropped behind enemy lines on D-Day. In Earned in Blood players take control of Joe "Red" Hartsock. The storyline is fairly similar to the previous game, and looks back on Hartsock's fifteen day journey after D-Day, once again the story is based on a true story. Gearbox have even paid homage to the previous game in the series as Matt Baker makes a few cameo appearances through the game, although he doesn't play a major part of the story.

Getting ready to attack

Getting ready to attack
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Aside from the storyline, Gearbox have added a few new things to the story mode to justify a purchase of the game. There are a few new weapons (such as the grease gun) as well as new vehicles. Vehicles seem to be a prerequisite in all WWII shooters (or any FPS titles for that matter), so we're not really impressed by them any more. Gearbox have also improved the enemy AI, and enemies are now a lot more intelligent, meaning they possess a wider range of moves as well. This means that the same tactics won't work everytime as enemies will catch onto what you are doing and move out of the way of an attack, this substantially adds to the realism of the game and also makes it a little harder.

The biggest new addition to the game, and the main reason why it may be worth considering this game is the new skirmish multiplayer mode. The skirmish multiplayer mode can be played via split screen multiplayer or on Xbox Live. There are four skirmish options, including objective, tour of duty, defence and assault mode. The multiplayer mode in the original BIA title wasn't as in depth as the multiplayer options here, so anyone who was disappointed with the original title's multiplayer will be pleased by the new options.

The gameplay is fairly solid, and the game stll feels a little different to the traditional World War II shooter. The problem is that there really hasn't been that many changes to the game in the past six months, this leaves the title feeling more like an expansion rather than an actual sequel. Aside from a few changes to the AI, and some weapon additions there isn't much that is entirely new in the game.

What am i aiming at?

What am i aiming at?
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The environments feel repetitive immediately, as we were trudging through areas that looked similar to these fields six months ago. The game might be set in a different area, but distinguishing the differences between the two envirnoments is fairly difficult. We have to commend Gearbox, as the training level is very comprehensive and really does a good job of introducing all the strategy commands in the game. We were a little daunted initially by all the moves that you can execute, but it really doesn't take too long to learn them all.

Overall though the gameplay just doesn't appear to evolve as much as we'd hoped. When you strip away the new features it is still just a case of hunting for the enemy, finding an area to hide in, issuing a command and then killing the enemy. After this you progress to the next area to do basically the same thing. This means that once you've worked towards half of the chapters you've pretty much got the gist of what to do.

Graphically there haven't been as many improvements made to the game as we'd liked, in fact the game looks very similar to its predecessor. It's disappointing that the environments feel about the same size as in Road to Hill 30, as we would have liked the game to be a little less linear. The textures are still a disappointment as they look washed out and aren't as good as we'd expected.

Strategy is an important part of the game

Strategy is an important part of the game
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There have been a few special effects added with the aim to enhance the realism of the game. As bullets fly by the screen will blur a little, and blood will splatter onto the screen when you get hit. The animations are probably the best thing about the graphics and they are very believable, the death animations of enemy soldiers are very realistic and make the game feel like a serious shooter.

Sound is an extremely important part of a WWII shooter as it helps to set the atmosphere of the game. Gearbox have done fairly well with the sound, and the narration provided by Hartsock is both entertaining and humourous. Some of the voice samples from Road to Hill 30 have been recycled in this game, but most of the recordings are new. However, even the new voice recordings do become a little repetitive after awhile. The soundtrack in the menus feels very epic, and a lot of effort has been put into the sound to make it feel authentic, although there aren't enough background noises to make you really feel like you're in the moment.

The main story mode will take about eight hours to go through for veterans of the series and up to twelve if you're just beginning to get into the series. The multiplayer is where the real drawcard of the game lies, as there is no real reason to return to the story mode once you've completed it in its entirity.

There aren't many things that seperate Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood from its predecessor. The artificial intelligence has improved, there are a few new weapons and there are a few new multiplayer options, but this leaves BIA: Earned in Blood feeling like the same game with a different storyline. In comparison with its predecessor Earned in Blood is a better game, if only because of the multiplayer options. Fans of Road to Hill 30 will enjoy this game, but anyone who wasn't impressed by the predecessor isn't going to find anything here to change their mind.

Related Reviews:
Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30
The Score
Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood is a worthy follow up to its predecessor, but did we really need another one in such a short space of time?
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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1 Comment
8 years ago
i just hired this game and i would give it a 5. it isn't that good i dont think
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now
Publisher:
  Ubisoft
Developer:
  Gearbox Software

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