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Friday, June 29, 2007

Game Review:Brothers in Arms DS

Buy this game, show it off and you will not regret it.

Brothers in Arms DS arrived as a nice surprise package to finally put some WW2 action on the handheld. Prior to that, no one has really expected such games on the DS because these games are usually intensive ones that require a tolerably good hardware to display the gorgeous war environments and to throw up massive explosion effects. Ubisoft’s Gameloft department showed us that yes, a WW2 game on the DS is indeed possible. Though the game has some misses here and there, I was truly impressed by what was done.

One thing to note about the DS rendition of Brothers in Arms is that the view has switched from a first-person view to a third-person one. The cardinal rule to creating a good shooter for the DS is to have controls that are equally good, if not better. Fortunately, the controls in Brother in Arms DS provide good responsiveness and they are intuitive. The game employs a mouse-like control scheme similar to Metroid Prime: Hunters. The touch-screen becomes a virtual mouse pad and by moving the stylus on it, players will be able to navigate their characters as well as aim. The other controls are also mapped appropriately such that you would not have to struggle with it. Press lightly against a barrier or a wall and your character will take cover behind it, much like the cover mechanism that Gears of War implements. Press harder and your character will climb over the obstacle. However, I find the mouse-like touch-screen controls too sensitive, but you will get used to it in time. I would have been nice if a sensitivity adjustment option was added in, but it was not – so it’s not. Taking control of the jeep vehicle in the game also feels like I am trying to control a bull by its horns – it’s difficult. Otherwise, the controls are alright.

As mentioned before, war games usually need to have beautiful environments and amazing explosion effect so as to immerse players in the experience. And since the DS has limited graphical power compared to the PSP, where another 2 war games, namely Medal of Honor Heroes and Call of Duty: Roads to Victory have made their home, I was a little apprehensive about how Brother in Arms DS would turn out. I was relieved by what I saw when I started the game. The visuals are comparable to, and even better at some parts, than the already visually-stunning TMNT DS game, and I love the skies as well, but why did the big fat blobs of pixels show up? Their occasional appearance marred my experience. The worst culprits were the tress and bushes – ugly, a stark contrast to the near-by houses, which did have the ‘wow’ effects.

Where Brothers in Arms DS really excels, though, is in the mission structure. There is great deal of variety in them – from blowing up a bridge to tank-riding missions. The game is constantly packed with action, engaging and extremely enjoyable. Couple that with spoken dialogue that contain a sense of urge and seriousity throughout, you can be forgiven for thinking that you are playing a console game instead of a DS game. Spoken dialogue – how many DS game in recent memory have actually implemented that? Brother in Arms DS not only puts that in, but puts it to excellent use too. The sound is top-notch as well – authentic, in fact. The surrounding gun crackle, your teammates urging you to move on – Gameloft has put in an admirable amount of effort into making the game truly immersive. And while you are not in combat, the game plays out suitable and ambient war tunes to match the mood. Thumbs-up!

To round it off, Brothers in Arms DS has wireless 4-player multiplayer – but wait, hold it! Only offline? Yes, sadly, no online option in any form is supported by the game. Since the single-player game would probably only last you about 4.5 hours, online multiplayer would be a good idea; it would lengthen the game.

Final Comments
Overall, Brothers in Arms DS is an excellent game, albeit with a few issues that can easily be overlooked. The controls are mostly good, but the graphics are inconsistent. Variety is the word for the missions, which totaled 16 spread over 3 campaigns. Spoken dialogue and the effective sound complement the gameplay. However, the single-player game is short – and there is no online multiplayer either – what you have left after the single-player game is a 4P wireless multiplayer. Perhaps it is time to convince your friends to buy the game and then you will be able to play with them. Not a difficult task, considering how good the game is.


The Good:
- Responsive and intuitive controls
- Great variety in mission structure
- Spoken dialogue implemented and put to excellent use
- High quality sound throughout and with ambient war tunes to boot

The Bad
- Inconsistent graphics
- Mouse-like touch-screen control sensitivity unadjustable
- Game is short and no online multiplayer


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