Road to Hill 30 is to the Brother in Arms saga what the original Call of Duty is to the COD empire. Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 was (at the time of release) touted to be one of the most realistic World War II shooters of its time; it’s quite hard to disagree with this notion. Road to Hill 30 has many standout features: its story is based on true events; many parts of the campaigns’ maps are based on real aerial reconnaissance photos; gameplay involves not only shooting but commanding between one and three men whom you will be commanding on a regular basis. These features are explored in a little more detail in this short review of quite possibly one of the greatest debut WWII shooter titles of all time.
Don’t make the mistake of writing off Road to Hill 30’s gameplay as being another Call of Duty or Full Spectrum Warrior Clone. Whilst it has features that are present to varying degrees in many WWII shooters, Brothers in Arms’ debut performance is in practice quite unlike that of any other game released at the time. This is because its gameplay is heavily shaped by squad-level tactics. You take command of a squad comprised of one to three players. You have the ability to issue commands to your squad – you will be commanding either an assault team, a fire team, or both – through actgions such as suppressing fire, movement, finding cover, and charging the enemy.
The squad-level tactics in this game aren’t just added extras either: your success in each of the campaign’s 17 chapters depends on being able to suppress the fire of and eventually out-flank your enemies. This is why you won’t see the kind of all-out run-and-gun/shooting from the hip action expected of games like Call of Duty or Wolfenstein. Road to Hill 30 does allow you to get down and dirty on the front line with many weapons of course, but its emphasis on squad tactics and sticking to a well-organised plan of attack makes it more realistic and immersive than any of its contemporaries.
Style and Presentation
This game gives you the kind of cinematic flare that one would expect from any World War II game, but it does so in a fashion that isn’t over the top. You’re put in the shoes of Sgt. Matt Baker, who was a real-life soldier who fought in the 101st division. Already you’re on a more realistic path than Call of Duty and the like, before you even consider the Band of Brothers-esque cut-scenes and scenarios, as well as the fact that this game was actually used in representing scenarios for a History Channel documentary, itself called Brothers in Arms. This is how gritty and realistic this game truly is.
Instead of covering the whole war, the entire game takes place over a 9-day stretch that begins the day before the D-Day landings. The missions you’ll experience are varied in nature, ranging from assaulting small towns to weeding out machine gun embankments and sniper’s nests, right through to coming up against tanks and heavier infantry. Each missions requires the use of your squad through the various commands mentioned above; you’ll even have the opportunity to be in control of a tank in a number of the game’s levels.
Content, Graphics, and Conclusion
Just because it’s a squad-based game, doesn’t mean Gearbox Software skimped on the content. As well as the weapons you can use (including the M1 Garand, Thompson, BAR, and Bazookas), there are weapons and items to be picked up from your dead foes as well. The campaign provides around 10 or 11 hours of gameplay in all, and the multiplayer is also of the same quality as the campaign. By this it is meant that the squad tactics remain a key feature of the multiplayer; and the levels are objective-based and require cooperation between teammates.
The graphics are also as standout as the gameplay. Player models aren’t sublime but are more than decent enough for the time, but it is the modelling of the weapons, vehicles, and environments that make the graphics truly stand out. The quality and realism in the audio department is also apparent throughout.
The top-quality graphics, cinematic style, and innovative squad-based gameplay make this game a truly unique experience in what was at the time a sea of WWII shooters which varied drastically in their quality. Road to Hill 30 has grit and realism like few others did at the time, so make sure you pay attention to it if you ever get the chance to delve in.