Review: Brothers In Arms | webOS Nation
 
 

Review: Brothers In Arms 40

by Robert Werlinger Sat, 20 Feb 2010 12:10 pm EST

Brothers In Arms ($5.99 in the App Catalog) is the first WWII 3D action/combat game to come to webOS. There’s a lot to like here: tanks, sniper rifles, and a well implemented cover system.

Overview

Brothers In Arms: Hour of Heros is a third person 3D action title. You play as Jason Becker, a jack of all trades infantryman belonging to the 101st Airborne division, set to eliminate the Nazi scourge. The game consists of 3 campaigns set in Normandy, Ardennes and Tunisia, with a grand total of 13 missions. There’s a surprising amount of gameplay for the 6 dollar asking price – enough that most casual gamers should have fresh gameplay to look forward to for quite a while.

Each mission has a series of objectives: Defend this area, capture that area, destroy this communications tower, kill those tanks. There’s a small variety of weapons, including a sniper rifle, rocket launcher, grenades, a machine gun, and the occasional stationary turret. In addition to the running and gunning, the operation of vehicles such as tanks and Jeeps play a major role in accomplishing objectives.

There’s an achievement system that allows you to unlock merit badges by completing actions.

Graphics

Graphics are on par with other titles from Gameloft (good), closely matching what we’ve seen on the iPhone. Draw distances are generally great, though there were times when targets appeared just beyond the draw boundary, making them somewhat hard to hit.

Sound

Sounds are quite good and contribute to an immersive experience. Everything from far off gunshots to the sounds of tank engines came through loud and clear from the Pre’s tiny speaker, and stereo sound from both wired and wireless headsets was solid.

Performance

Framerates were consistently good throughout the game, even in instances with a lot going on such as large battles. Battery life, as you would imagine, takes a significant hit during prolonged gaming sessions. Load times between missions and after continuing post-death were acceptable.

The biggest point of frustration with the game performance-wise didn't have anything to do with the way it runs, but actually getting it running in the first place. More often than not, even with no cards open, I would get the “too many cards” dialog that only a reset of the phone would remedy. This appears to be a characteristic shared by many of the 3D gaming titles currently in the Catalog, and something needs to be done - presumably by Palm - to address these memory issues on the original Palm Pre. Pre Plus owners needn't worry.

Gameplay

The game is played primarily in third person view while on foot and while operating vehicles. While on foot, it’s possible to manually aim a weapon by sliding two fingers apart on screen – handy when targeting far off enemies with the sniper rifle or firing your bazooka at moving vehicles.

The cover system is basic but generally effective: running up to a wall causes your character to automatically take cover against it and fire around corners, and running up to sandbags and jersey barriers and the like will automatically cause you to crouch behind that object. Running at cover and not stopping will - in the case of jersey barriers and sand bags - cause your character to jump over the object most of the time. There were plenty of instances where I wanted cover but the game wouldn’t cooperate and I’d find myself hopping back and forth over the desired bullet blocker several times before actually ducking behind it.

The AI is fairly benign and hardly challenging even on the more difficult settings – enemy infantry are generally stationary behind cover and enemy armor tends not to move much either .

Controls

The character is moved by a virtual D-pad on the left side of the screen, and aiming is done by moving one’s finger across the rest of the screen. This control set-up is prevalent in most of the Gameloft titles we’ve seen so far, and the results are hit and miss. Rapidly changing direction is impossible – if you want to turn around you have to swipe madly at the screen until your character finally completes a 180. While the Pre’s screen isn’t tiny, it isn’t exactly huge either. I found the thumb used to interact with the D pad would sometimes obscure my view.

Weapons are managed by tapping the icon of the equipped weapon in the upper left, which brings up the pause screen. Two weapons, generally a combination of a machine gun and a bazooka or a sniper rifle, can be held in inventory at a time.

Some actions are performed by an action button that appears when near certain items – when you’re next to an enemy tank, for example, you can throw a grenade inside killing the crew.

Combat

On Foot:

Fine aiming on a touchscreen device can be frustrating, and the inclusion of assisted aiming while not in first person mode is a welcome touch.

Grenades are aimed by using the accelerometer, or can be thrown inside enemy tanks when in close proximity.

You can have two weapons on you at any given time, in addition to grenades.

Vehicles:

Two vehicles can be operated in this incarnation of Brothers In Arms: Tanks and Jeeps. Tanks are fun, and with the assisted aiming, it’s nearly impossible to die while piloting one of these. As you drive through towns and villages, you’ll have to destroy other tanks, buildings containing RPG-wielding enemies, and other general battlefield items. The Jeeps, on the other hand, are the opposite of fun. For reasons I can't quite comprehend, the D pad is replaced with a small virtual steering wheel complete with forward and reverse acceleration buttons.

Final Thoughts

The graphics, sound, and performance aspects of this game all get a solid 4.5, but what good are great graphics if the game isn't much fun to play? Gameplay in Brothers In Arms quickly became repetitious and downright boring. Perhaps this is endemic of these bite-sized less-than-ten-dollar games.

There’s little variety in the combat system, and the control scheme in combination with the small screen size and form factor of the Pre is a recipe for both frustration and carpal tunnel. I honestly had a difficult time playing through the entire game for the review – the previously mentioned gameplay issues combined with the often frustrating controls nearly drove me to uninstall the game.

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