Brothers In Arms

Cheap thought: Brothers In Arms squad combat, which relies on suppressing fire and flanking routines, is as big an innovation for FPS combat than anything Half-Life 2 did with physics. Brothers In Arms squad combat, which relies on suppressing fire and flanking routines, is as big an innovation for FPS combat than anything Half-Life 2 did with physics. The immediacy of the squad orders and the effectiveness of cover is unlike that seen in other games of its ilk.

It’s remarkable how many people wrote that game off as ‘probably worse than Call of Duty’, and never played it. Have you played it?

It’s not a masterpiece, but as I play it more and more I begin to think that its combat ideas are just bastard-smart. I’ve been playing it co-op with friends and it’s a raw, solid, and instinctive experience. Just pumping out bullets so that the buggers keep their heads down is brilliantly obvious. The idea that the big fucking gun is good for doing that, while the little one is for close work makes more sense here than in any other game. These ideas are subtle, but they are gold dust. Other developers should steal them, immediately. This should become standard fare for squad-control: point, click. No more stupid HUD menus. Just dirt and screaming men.

If someone wants to make a gritty sci-fi shooter that uses the same ideas then that’s okay by me. (Although Ubisoft lawyers may say differently.)

5 Responses to “Brothers In Arms”

  • Tim E Says:


    Best WW2 game, ever. AND I’M NOT JOKING.

  • bob_arctor Says:

    I agree. I played it and liked it a lot. Except for certain rubbish levels including the last one which I still haven’t played.

    I think if you have a circular plot starting “now” and flashbacking up to that “now” you should then stop. Don’t carry on. It should be a circle. Not a circle with a line coming off it at a rubbish badly designed level tangent.

    However I was most disapointed in what happened next for the series: it has not changed. The brilliant idea has been reused without change in the sequels.

    Quelle ironie. The very original likable game finds itself in a position no better than COD2. Yawn. I’m not buying BiA 3. Woo! Scripted sequences! Like we’ve not seen them before!

  • Rossignol Says:

    Yeah, I mean clerly the World War II thing has worn too thin, but it would be good to see that point-to-command/supress/flank concept put to good use in some other scenario.

  • Stu Says:

    So thats real life then. I think its always cheap when games make their own rules when real life is better.

    So, for example, in HL2 you have a flashlight that has the worst battery in the world and runs out after 30 seconds. This is then used in ep 1 to “create tension” because everything is dark and there are zombies around. But its fake… its just not real and theres no excuse. You could have made a perfectly exciting scene with a working flashlight. Alternatively there are lots of flares where, true to real life, go out after time. Why not get the player to use these instead of a rather contrived flashlight routine?

    So hurrah to Brothers in Arms but then again, its only real life. shouldnt that be a standard expectation?

  • Rossignol Says:

    It’s not ‘real-life’ though, because there is some over-compensation for how scenery acts as cover (wooden fences are absurdly good protection, for example), and nor does real life have a one-click command interface for you to order your colleagues about. Sure, it’s a simple mechanism that we understand as being closer to how the actual process of killing men with guns should work, but I doubt real gun battles play out like this.

    Further, it would be possible to make a game that wasn’t ‘real’ at all using the same mechanics. Set it Corduroy-bubble world and make the Nazis pulsating stilt men and the bullets darting hornets and the same supression/flanking concept would still work as a game concept.

    Because it’s coherent and instinctive doesn’t necessary make it realistic.