Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood Xbox
Published by Ubisoft
Developed by Gearbox Software
Release Date: Out Now
Brother in Arms: Earned in Blood, an introduction.
Earlier this year we reviewed the excellent Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 for the PC and it was a refreshing take on World War II FPS games. Instead of simply taking your weapons and running into your enemies with all guns blazing, the idea was to be more realistic and employ tactics in order to take your enemies out. The best way to deal with enemies in Brothers in Arms is to order your small squad of troops to suppress the enemy whilst you find a way to outflank them and take them by surprise. To put it simply you won't live long in the Brother in Arms games by taking an all guns blazing approach.
What's the game about?
Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood puts you in the shoes of Sgt. Joe 'Red' Hartsock of the 101st Airborne as once again the missions in the game are based on real life events. The game begins with Hartsock being debriefed and this debriefing leads to a series of flashbacks which you'll play as missions before progressing on to other things. The games story intertwines the story found in Road to Hill 30 and you'll even come across Baker, the central character in the first game. As well as the single player story mode there is a skirmish mode (which offers solo, Xbox Live, System Link and Split Screen options). There are also other object based multiplayer modes that nicely round off the overall package.
What's good about the game?
Having played Road to Hill 30 on the PC I was surprised to find Earned in Blood plays just as well, with all the game elements intact, on the Xbox. Once again you'll have to find the enemy, fix the enemy, flank the enemy and finish the enemy (as the game tutorial puts it). To aid you in creating your strategy you have the Situational Awareness View (which you access by pressing the back button) which allows you to pause the action and see an overhead view of your immediate surroundings. The SAV allows you to formulate effective strategies and on the more difficult of the four difficulty levels, its use is essential to successfully completing the missions. The enemy AI seems to have been improved in Earned in Blood and the enemies are more likely to find cover when they come under attack from a flank manoeuvre. Your fellow soldiers once again use their own initiative and will find cover and fire at the enemy whenever the opportunity arises, so even though you're giving them orders you never feel like you're having to baby sit them. Away from the main story mode you'll be pleased to learn that the skirmish missions can be played co-operatively, offline and online, which is a most welcome feature.
What's not so good about the game?
Assuming you're playing Earned in Blood on the same platform you played Road to Hill 30, you'll find the games are a very similar experience. For some gamers this is a negative point. The game saves automatically at certain checkpoints, which might irritate those of you who would have preferred a quicksave feature. The checkpoints aren't that far apart though and seem to be placed logically. Even so on the difficult and authentic difficulty levels it can prove to be a test of patience having to redo specific parts all over again. You could also argue that the story mode missions are completely linear and too tightly scripted which means you'll not want to play the story mode again unless you are attempting a higher difficulty level.
How does it look?
Whilst the game doesn’t look quite as good on the Xbox as it does on the PC, it's actually pretty close and all things considered it's a good looking Xbox game. The character models are as good as could be expected and the various environments all look good. There's some great lighting effect on display here as well as other nice visual touches such as the blood splatters that hit the screen when you're hit. The frame rate is generally fine and even when it does occasionally dip, it's nothing dramatic and it certainly doesn't spoil anything. The presentation of the game is, overall, quite impressive.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
Whilst most FPS games are problematic for deaf gamers, Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood is quite accommodating. The game is subtitled but subtitles are not enabled by default so make sure to enable them before beginning. Cutscene dialogue is subtitled as is the main dialogue during the game. Peripheral speech isn't subtitled though so you won't be aware of the conversations of the soldiers around you (that are not addressing you) and you won't be aware of enemies that you haven't seen. Tutorial messages are exclusively in text which is rather useful and they do a good job of introducing you to the games unique features. The game also makes an excellent use of icons to let you know when the enemy is suppressed and such like.
I enjoyed Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood as much as I enjoyed the PC version of Brother in Arms: Road to Hill 30 which says a lot. If you enjoyed Road to Hill 30 then it goes without saying that Earned in Blood is an essential purchase on the format of your choice. Xbox owners will be impressed with how the game plays and whilst there are many enjoyable FPS games on the console, none offer the same mix of strategy and action as the Brothers in Arms games.
Overall Game Rating: 9.0/10
Deaf Gamers Classification:
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If you enjoyed Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 then Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood is a must own title. One of the best Xbox FPS games to date.