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April 10, 2005
Brothers In Arms: Road to Hill 30 - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
17/3/2005UbiSoftGearbox Software1-2, 4 MA15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
75KBDolby PLIIYesNoNoneYes

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Covering your buddies from afar.
Brothers In Arms: Road To Hill 30 is an interesting title for a couple of reasons. Firstly the developer is none other then Gearbox Software who in the past have developed titles on PC including the likes of Halo, Half-Life: Blue Shift & Opposing Force and James Bond: Nightfire - certainly a very solid lineup. Their move to console development is an interesting one and really indicates the strength of the console industry. The second reason this game is so interesting is that it drops the typical shoot at everything FPS gameplay to include a much more strategic element. Finally, Brothers In Arms: Road to Hill 30 is follows the fortunes, and misfortunes, of a real company that existed during World War II. This is their story...

Dropped behind enemy lines the night before D-Day, Sgt. Matt Baker (Fox Company, 502d Regiment, 101st Airborne) regrouped his scattered squad. In just 48 hours, Baker will have to choose between the lives of his men and the success of his mission. Victory, he was promised, would send him home. But, when the Germans counterattack and divide the allied invasion forces, Baker must lead his squad to overcome their fears and work together to capture and hold the most critical junction point of the invasion. His life and the life of his men rely on his leadership and bravery.

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Expect the game to be quite realistic.
Set across 8 days from June 6 to June 13, 1944 Brothers In Arms: Road to Hill 30 includes some wonderfully realistic recreations of the actual locations. In fact the developers used Army Signal Corps photos, Aerial Reconnaissance Imagery and eyewitness accounts to recreate te levels. Naturally the game includes realistic weapons but the detail even extends to recreating battles at the exact time of day and with the same weather effects in which they occurred.

Although you play the role of Sgt. Matt Baker you aren't playing this game alone, it's your job to ensure your squad makes it through the missions unscathed. During the game you will need to issue commands to two three-man squads setting their positions, targets and objectives. The first is a fire team and is trained to suppress and pin the enemy so that the assault team can do its work. The second squad is an assault team and is designed for closing on and killing the enemy when suppressed. In reality this aspect of the game actually plays in a similar fashion to THQ's Full Spectrum Warrior in the way you move your squad around the levels. The big difference between the two games is that Brothers In Arms also allows you to fire upon enemies. The game is very efficient in

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Aiming down the barrel.
As you would expect the game follows not only the real events, but also the history of World War II. Realistic weapons are used throughout - pistols and rifles are common while rocket launchers and machine guns also make an appearance on occasion. The game also includes a rather neat map which gives you an overview of the battlefield. Fortunately the game only shows you spotted enemies so you won't be able to switch to the map just to see where everyone is immediately. The AI in this game really must be commended. Both enemies and friends react to their environments taking action when required. If under suppressive fire soldiers will look for cover and try their best to preserve their lives.

As well as the single player Gearbox have included some extensive multi-player options. On the PS2 gamers can play in some 2-player split screen action which is great however it's the online gameplay which excites the most. Up to 4-players can participate in battles which become quite frantic and given the right opponent can provide an even tougher challenge then the tough CPU opposition.

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Graphics have a gritty realism.
You know what, there really aren't any big issues with Brothers In Arms in terms of gameplay. It really is a tremendous game however perhaps the authenticity will actually put some people off - that that's the game and you can't mark it down for that. The learning curve at the beginning is fairly steep but the game is all the better for it. Like real war more often then not you get thrown in at the deep end.

In recent days I've had the pleasure of playing both the XBox and PC versions of this game and indeed while the game is the same in terms of levels and features, the extra power on those systems provides slightly better graphics with sharper textures. If you have a choice you're probably better off with either of those versions however the good news for PS2 owners is that compared to other PS2 titles the graphics in Brothers In Arms: Road To Hill 30 are very respectable. There's more then a passing resemblance to Saving Private Ryan or the wonderful HBO series Band of Brothers (albeit with less gore) but I figure that's the way war was meant to look - gritty. Now when I say less gore I don't mean none at all. There is no blowing off of limbs, but there is some small amounts of blood in the game, a good inclusion which never goes over the top. Unfortunately the frame rate can drop occasionally when there's plenty of action on screen but it's pretty infrequent.

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Battle in the town.
Sound is an area which I feel could have been better. I'll start with the dialogue. At time's it's superb, even with copious amounts of swearing, and really makes you feel like you're in the actual era. At times, however, the dialogue seems a little too scripted and not natural. It's not terrible, but could have been better. The sound effects also sound a little on the weak side. Rifles don't have the same impact that they should. Ambient effects such as distant explosions have a lot more of a realistic sound to them. Finally the music - or lack thereof. It's quite a change to play a game where the music while playing is virtually non-existent - I like it. It's not like soldiers in WWII were running around with IPods in their ears anyway!

Gearbox really should be applauded for their efforts on Brothers In Arms: Road To Hill 30. They refrained from turning this into a First Person Shooter, and it comes out for the better as a result. This game is so much more and requires some quick thinking during battles, not just an itchy trigger finger. The PC and XBox versions are a little better technically so if you have those systems you're probably better off with those versions however if you only have a PS2 you will still do very well to pick up this title. Well done Ubisoft and Gearbox.

Review By: Dave Warner

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GRAPHICSGraphics aren't award winning but conveys World War II perfectly.
SOUNDI expected a more here. Weapons sound distant and dialogue patchy.
GAMEPLAYCertainly brings a unique aspect to the war - you're no longer alone!
VALUELevels are good, and change every time. Online modes are fun too.
OVERALLBrothers In Arms: Road To Hill 30 is a unique title that will hook you for days. While not quite as sharp as the XBox or PC versions PS2 owners certainly won't be complaining about this game either.

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