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Who here can honestly say that they have never fantasized about being a Jedi? I mean really why not? You have a laser sword that can cut through almost anything and choke people from across the galaxy. Theyíre like the ultimate fictional destructive force but the only problem is that there has always been a focus on being good, but this has now been solved in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (SWTFU).


Story:

You take the role of Galen Marek (Starkiller) the new lightsaber swinging, Storm Trooper throwing guy on the block. Marek is the secret apprentice of Darth Vader and his main objective is to assassinate Jediís in hiding and bring down the Emperor. The first part of the plan works, but the latter really doesnít. The problem is that he has to remain hidden from the Emperor and survive the arduous task of being Darth Vaderís apprentice.

He isnít alone in his journey and there are some rather interesting characters, but the most interesting is actually a droid by the name of Proxy. His main objective is to aid Marek in his training and he does this by using programs based off other Jedi. He takes the demeanor of a friend, but at other times he keeps his intentions truly ambiguous and he keeps you guessing. Another character is Juno Eclipse whom serves as your personal chauffeur to missions. While she isnít integral to the plot she serves as someone for Marek to be attached to and have feelings for.

Not only is the story about Vaderís secret apprentice, but it also reveals the birth of the Rebellion Alliance. Many other things are entertaining to see like the incomplete Super Star Destroyer and the innards of the Death Star as itís being constructed. More character development wouldíve been nice though. This is because youíll see allegiances made and by the time the game ends you would like to see a couple of things fleshed out.
Rating: 8.0

Gameplay:

SWTFU can be described as a less polished Heavenly Sword with force powers. Itís a rather competent action adventure that couldíve been great, but it falls short on a mechanic or two. For starters Iím going to be in the minority and not complain about the lightsaber not killing people with one hit. Your giant sword in Devil May Cry doesnít kill things with one hit, the Athena Blades from God of War 2 donít one hit kill and Ryu Hayabusaís cavalcade of chopping utensils donít one hit kill so itís nothing new to the genre. What I donít like is how uneven the use of the force is.

According to SWTFU a Jedi can yank a Star Destroyer out of the Sky, grab Tie Fighterís in mid-flight, but they canít push around an AT-ST or a Purge Trooper. Another thing to note is that a lot of these Storm Trooper variants were not included in any of the movies. Though SWTFU is to bridge the gap between Episodes 3 and 4 it takes several liberties with the license. You have Storm Troopers that have flamethrowers, ones that are resistant to the Force; ones that shoot electroshock flechettes at you and snipers. In the movies these guys couldnít hit Han, Chewie, or Luke when they were running towards the Millennium Falcon.

The only way to come to grips with the enemies thrown at you is to develop strategies for everything that comes at you. Your average Storm Trooper is pretty much a red shirt in the original Star Trek series. Theyíre only there to get killed by you; they pose no threat unless one is manning a gun emplacement. But all you have to do is wait for them to reload the turret and kill them. Killing is where a lot of the fun lies in SWTFU and this is because there is a wealth of options depending on what youíre fighting.



Say you walk into a room and Storm Troopers just come barreling into a room. You can either take a lightsaber to each one of them or you can use the Force and grab one and throw him into his own comrades. Or you can take a barrel and shoot it with force lightning and hurl it at your enemies only for it to explode and take out about five or six men. One of my favorite methods of death is throwing people into energy shields. Thereís just something so satisfying about picking up a hapless soldier, toying with him for a few brief moments only to then throw him into an energy shield, and see that body disintegrate on impact.

I also like using the Force Grab to launch people into orbit. The only thing that I donít understand is that when a person comes crashing down back to earth they SURVIVE. Regardless of energy a person should just die after falling 200ft. If you donít want to rely on the Force you can use lightsaber combos. Once you get over the fact that your lightsaber might as well be made out of stale French bread you get used to it and use a bevy of combos to take down your foes. Once you level up enough times and put some skill orbs towards your lightsaber proficiency it will become stronger. It also helps to unlock combos because some do some rather interesting things. One combo combines the lightsaber with Force Lightning and does some serious damage to robots. It also does a good job on the Storm Troopers wearing jet packs. This is because the electricity will actually overload the jet pack and will launch them skyward uncontrollably.

You get access to more combos by leveling up and acquiring force combo spheres, but youíll only rely on a couple of them. And you seem to gain a new force power after every level. You then get to upgrade those with force power spheres. You can also upgrade health, force usage, force recovery and other attributes.

The one thing that Iíve remembered being hammered into my skull is DMM (Digital Molecular Matter). Itís a physics engine that determines how things break. Say if I was to use force push at a certain angle the door would break or implode a certain way a different time. They always hyped it to be something really ground breaking that would change the way we look at games (or something like that), but itís really not. Another piece of tech that is impressive, but falls short is the Euphoria animation engine. We were promised Storm Troopers that would grab onto each other and crates in an attempt to save their own skin, but this doesnít happen much. What I do notice is that they do attempt to dive out of the way and struggle to get back up after theyíve been knocked down. The best case where I have seen it work the best was when I smashed a window in a space ship. Everything was being sucked out and I happened to notice that one of the Storm Troopers was grabbing onto the edge hanging for dear life only for his grip to weaken and fade into the vacuum of space.


For the most part SWTFU is a good load of fun, but there are times when the whole game just seems to fall apart. The best example of this is when you have to bring down the Star Destroyer. For starters you have to fight Tie Fighters and when you see them you think ďWhat the F**k do I do?Ē You can either Force Grab a piece of debris and hurl it at one or you can actually grab one, or use Lightning (best option). The problem is that for starters that piece of debris is not always going to go where you want. The other problem is that you donít always know if youíre going to grab a Tie Fighter. This is because the lock-on system is too loose and seems to lock on to anything that youíre facing. This is a huge pain because there are times when you will try to shoot lightning at an enemy only to hit a barrel above, in back or next to it.

The other problem is that during this sequence the lock-on icon is impossible to see. When you do manage to destroy the fighters you then have the opportunity to pull down the Star Destroyer. Just when you think youíre home free more Tie Fighters pop up to interrupt you. And while youíre busy fighting the Star Destroyer is repositioning itself. The process of waste Tie Fighters, pull down Star Destroyer, get interrupted and doing it over lasts for a while and took me anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour to finish. This right here sucked a lot of fun out of the game for me.

When The Force Unleashed works it can be a blast and you believe that youíre a whirlwind of death and destruction. As a Star Wars fan I find The Force Unleashed to be a pretty serviceable and for the most part a really fun game, but the lack of polish on the targeting system and one key segment that couldíve been great is just terrible.
Rating: 7.5


Graphics:

The first thing that threw me off about the graphics was the character model for Galen Marek. This is mainly because he looks a lot different than he did in Soul Calibur 4. He looked older and more detailed in Soul Calibur 4, but after a while you get used to him. When you cause a wide range of destruction and watch DMM and the Euphoria physics engine at work youíll appreciate the game. Just charging up Force Push and unleashing it to send a wave of men hurling to their deaths is great.

There is a good amount of detail in the character models (especially Vaderís) and the CGI is excellent. In fact theyíre almost too good as you wonder for a minute if they actually brought on live actors. The environments are also nice and varied. SWTFU has you planet hopping pretty often and the worlds that you inhabit are well detailed and have rather appropriate characteristics for that level.

For example the planet Felucia is a rather colorful jungle world with deadly plants and creatures with many hues. While on that contrast the scrap metal planet of Raxus Prime consists mostly of scraps of metal and molten metal on itís surface. Thereís also a lot of scrap iron just floating around in the air. The worlds in SWTFU are definitely nice to look at, but that comes at a price. There are some stability problems and most of them actually appear when youíre in Felucia. Thereís something about having one too many Rancorís, Felucians and poisonous plants on screen along with you jumping and flipping that the game engine does not like. You will come across instances of major slowdown on top of the occasional freeze.

One more problem is the amount of glitches. One problem I had was that I fell out of a level. This happened in the Sarlaac pit level and I ended up getting blown out of the level. The next thing I see is my character swirling around a void of black. Another thing that happened was that I ended up getting trapped behind the dismembered head of an AT-ST. It took me about three minutes to get out of it using jumps and various attempts at Force Pushing and Force Gripping it out of the way. While this does mar the experience it doesnít take too much away from the enjoyment from the game.
Rating: 7.5


Sound:

Well whatís a Star Wars game without a sweeping score and composer Mark Griskey does an admirable job. The music provided seems to borrow a lot from the usual John Williams score, but the original music provided seems to fit right in. The voice acting is pretty stellar. Actor Sam Witwer provides a rather convincing portrayal as the secret apprentice. Marek is filled with rage, confusion and confidence amongst many other emotions and they all get conveyed. A lot of the other voice actors are pretty good, minus the person providing the Emperorís voice. Other than that the usual fare of blaster fire, Tie Fighter roars and lightsaber hums are present sounding the way they did in the movies.
Rating: 9.0

Replay:

For those that follow the rule of ďno multiplayer=no replay valueĒ should just stay away from or rent SWTFU. For those that have nothing against playing solely the campaign you might find a reason to pick it up again once or twice. For starters you can search for holocrons, which provide a couple of bonuses. The main holocrons to look for contain lightsaber crystals. These come in two varieties. One changes itís color and the other gives it a special ability. For example one crystal will increase itís ability to block blaster bolts, while another will absorb an enemies health. Another reason to play it again is because itís actually rather fun. Thereís just something about throwing things at people and discovering a new way to kill something with the force is entertaining. The best barometer would be to download the demo thatís available on XBL or PSN. If you find yourself playing it 5-8 times then you might want to buy the game.
Rating: 7.5


Overall:

While I wish SWTFU were more polished I still have to give it some credit. Itís fun enough to keep me playing to the end and go on to a second play through. If you can stomach the loose targeting system and the glitches that will have you trapped between walls; youíll find an entertaining game that almost any Star Wars fan should own.
Rating: 7.5
Next review: Silent Hill: Homecoming







JadedWriter
12:14 PM on 10.26.2008

Have you ever watched the movie Aliens and ask yourself; ďHow would I handle this situation?Ē Would I be like Hicks and stay cool and calm under pressure, like Ripley and take command or like Hudson and panic. Iím pretty sure that I would be like Hudson. At the first instance of some real jacked up predicament Iíll be the first one to scream, ďThat's it man, game over man, game over! What the f**k are we gonna do now? What are we gonna do?Ē In some ways this is how EAís Dead Space makes you feel. Youíre thrown into some hellish situation and you have to survive it.


Story:

Dead space is set in the distant future. The planet Earth has used up all of its natural resources and now entire planets have to be mined for those resources, then those resources have to be shipped backed to Earth. They use ships called Planet Crackers to get the job done and their most important one the famed USG Ishimura (might as well be called LV 426) has gone silent. A repair crew is sent to find out what happened to cause the communication breakdown. One of the crew members is engineer Isaac Clarke; unlike most of the crew he has another reason to go on the mission. This reason is Clarkeís girlfriend Nicole, whom sends him a rather cryptic message before the game begins.

After Clarke and his crew (involuntarily) enter the Ishimura the situation goes from bad to worse then to tits up. Clarke and his colleagues are attacked by strange creatures called Necromorphs. The Necromorphs are the reanimated dead bodies of the IshimuraĎs crew and come in some of the ghastliest shapes ever, but more on those later. Eventually the crew decides to go back to their shuttle and in Aliens fashion your only means of escape explodes and along with it every sense of security that you have. You only get about a second to shed a tear for your only means of escape. Then you grab your balls and throw yourself into the most nightmarish undead infested hellhole since Raccon City. By the end of the game Iím surprised Isaac doesnít unzip his suit and hose out the feces that must have been collecting in his suit.
Rating: 9.0


Gameplay:

Dead Space falls into the category of survival horror and plays a lot like Resident Evil 4. The only difference is that the Necromorphs seem to be deadlier and a lot more blood thirsty than the Ganados. For starters you quickly learn that a headshot really doesnít mean anything in the world of Dead Space. Youíll shoot a Necromorph in the head and it will fall off, but they donít die. Every time I did this to one they would swing their arms wildly and stumble into your general direction. The key thing that you have to learn is how to take out the wide variety of Necromorphs thrown at you. In order to do this you have to utilize strategic dismemberment. While at first I thought this was some meaningless PR buzzword, but you actually do need to learn this. For the most part you have to go for the tentacles on them or some other sort of appendage, but the question you have to answer is which appendage and the answer is different for each Necromorph. This leads to several chaotic situations especially when they throw new ones at you and several different types in one confrontation. These situations send your mind into a panic. You wonder which do I kill first? Do I kill the one thatís easier or do I do my best to kill the most powerful first? Granted you can try to make a beeline to a door, but they can always just follow you. One time I ran about four of these things came crashing through the ceiling to get me.

The weapons you use to combat these monstrosities arenít exactly weapons. Theyíre just tools used to mine minerals. But to be honest if itís capable of breaking rocks then flesh doesnít stand a chance. The three guns that prove this the most are the Plasma Cutter, Line Gun and the appropriately named The Ripper. The Plasma Cutter is the only one that you actually find. It has the ability to blast off chunks of flesh in either a vertical or horizontal path. Knowing which one to use and when is key to survival and ammo consumption. The Line Gun is almost the same, but itís limited to horizontal. Its secondary setting is a mine launcher. The Ripper launches saw bladesÖneed I say more. There are more in Dead Space, but these are the ones that stuck with me. In addition to these weapons you have the Stasis and Kinesis modules. Stasis acts like its own self-contained bullet time mechanic making that object move slower. It works best on the fast vicious Necromorphs, and it also plays a part in puzzle solving. The Kinesis module is pretty much just the Half-Life 2 gravity gun.


Each weapon and your armor can be upgraded using power nodes. Itís very reminiscent of Resident Evil 4, but it was a lot more strategic. Since your weapon upgrades will carry over to another play through; it makes the most sense to upgrade one weapon at a time. The same goes for other equipment as well like the Stasis and Kinesis modules.

Another thing to take note of is; despite them essentially being zombies theyíre a lot smarter than the shambling Resident Evil corpses. They seem to realize that you have weapons that can hurt them and they do their best to not attack you head on. A lot of the time they will come bursting out of air vents. There have actually been numerous occasions where you actually hear them in the vents or even see them jumping into the vents. This all ties into the sense of atmosphere thatís provided. While skulking through the blood smeared corridors of the Ishimura your skin will crawl, the hairs on the back of your neck with stand up and you will become the most paranoid person in your house.

You walk through rooms with corpses strewn about. Every room looks like a warzone where the crew held their ground to the last man and inevitably lost. Youíll look at a wall and read words smeared in blood. Itís like they wanted to leave a last hint in an attempt to make their death mean something. Youíll occasionally read ďcut off their limbsĒ or ďdonít go near the vents.Ē And the dead seem to be the lucky ones. Anybody left alive (except one person) wishes they were dead, and they have no qualms hastening their departure to the afterlife while theyíre right in front of you.

There have been many occasions where I cleared Necromorph filled rooms, which lulled me into a false sense of security. Soon afterwards some monstrous contorted freak of an ex-human being crashes out of an air vent and gnaws off my head. One would think that Isaac would just fortify himself in some kind of room and let somebody fix the ship and establish communication with the outside world but he canít. This is because he is the one that has to do those things. There are a lot of times when you will get missions asking for stuff to either be repaired or just plain turned on. While this makes Dead Space feel a tad on the repetitive side you really donít mind. For starters itís because youíre a maintenance engineer, so it would be like a plumber complaining about fixing toilets all day. Itís also cool because there are a lot of different ways for you to fix or turn on said crucial apparatus.

One of the big hooks attached to Dead Space is the use of Zero G environments. These allow you use multiple angles to traverse the environment. This also plays a part in puzzle solving. There are numerous times when youíre ordered to clear a room full of hazardous materials. In order to do this you have to use your telekinesis gun to grab things and shoot the materials out of air locks or gravitation beams. While this is great for puzzles it does have an affect on combat. There are times that the camera will shift so you will have to take a second to get a grasp on what the new up is. Also the Necromorphs can and will use the Zero G environment to their advantage, making combat slightly confusing. While you get used to it, you might not like having some ugly thing launching at you from some unseen angle.


Most of the innovation in Dead Space lies in the HUD, or the lack of one. Your vital stats and other forms of useful information or found on the character itself. For starters your health can be seen as a segmented bar on Isaacís back. The ammo for your weaponry can be found on the gun. When you ready the gun a holographic readout will be displayed presenting to information. You will receive mission updates in real-time from holographic and audio transmissions. Your inventory layout is also in real-time. This is where you will find your health packs and ammo amongst other stuff. At first you rely on this to access health packs, but eventually you realize that they hot keyed it to the square button. At first you think that this takes away from the pressure of curing yourself, but it really doesnít because you tend to just attacked when you least expect it. Besides when you hear something wailing or groaning in the background while your counting health packs it puts you on edge.

Other than the small nitpicks Dead Space borders on perfection. It does an exceptional job of making its foray into the survival horror genre and should do a good job of holding people over until Resident Evil 5 is released.
Rating: 9.0


Graphics:

The graphics in Dead Space are a sight to behold. From the interviews Iíve watched the development team said that the lighting is based on dentist chair lights. And if this is the case Iíll let my teeth rot out of my skull before I ever set foot in a dentistís chair. The lights cast everything in some sort of ominous glow. The lighting casts some of the most freakish shadows as well. Youíll look at one and just wonder if itís something that is capable of killing you. It gets to the point that youíll ready your gun with every new room you enter.

The creature design is just plain nasty. You can tell where a person is still a human, but then you notice the protrusions and fangs and claws and parts of the anatomy bent in ways that just donít seem possible. Then it just gets worse. You look at the monsters known as Brutes and say to yourself, ďThereís no way in hell this thing was a person.Ē Even babies lost their innocence in Dead Space. Thereís this one room on the Ishimura where babies are born and left floating in some goop. When you see them you donít say ďOh, how cute.Ē You say, ďWhat the f**k?Ē And when you see what they become under the influence of the Necromorphs you shudder.

The architecture in Dead Space has a nice attention to detail. The Ishimura seems to be meticulously detailed echoing numerous ships from other horrific sci-fi movies. Every room looks like it has a purpose and some of the rooms try to showcase it. There are numerous recreation rooms and you can even see posters to movies that one would watch on the Ishimura. It just goes a long way in showcasing that actual people used to inhabit this ship.

The use of gore is just insane. Not only does it play to the strategic dismemberment, but it teaches you a lesson. That lesson is, ďif you donít want your head ripped off, or get chopped into sections then learn how to shoot.Ē I have died in so many horrific ways that I lost count. And after seeing what happens to Isaac when he doesnít use something for shelter, while running across some open area in space, youíll see why the game was banned in several countries.

There are a couple of times that the shadows look horribly pixilated, but thatís it. Visually Dead Space does an epic job in showcasing one of the most nightmarish locations in the survival horror genre.
Rating: 9.5


Sound:

After about ten hours of hearing Dead Space Iím shocked that my hair isnít gray yet. Part of the reason is that you hear things, but you donít know whatís coming. For the most part the ambient noises are haunting. You can hear the creaking and the groaning of the Ishimura as it floats through the vast darkness of space. And that only gets interrupted when some things waiting to pry the flesh from your body appear. The music will pick up and go into typical horror movie fare. The only other thing you hear is Isaacís breathing. While Isaac Clarke joins Gordon Freeman in the mute protagonist club, he at least breathesÖand screams. His breathing seems to echo underneath that tin can that he calls a helmet. It sounds like his lungs are working over time trying to force each gasp of air out. When he screams itís just blood curdling and makes me wonder what they did to the voice actor to get him to scream like that. The voice work for regular dialogue is well done with actors that convey the right sense of panic and urgency. The same goes for the audio logs. Just like in Bioshock youíll find a lot of audio logs that help fill the story in. These things are so chilling and disturbing. The highlight of one for me was when you found one with a guy worrying about turning into a Necromorph. So to do people a favor he hacked off his legs. Dead Space is just chilling and haunting in itís vocal delivery.
Rating: 9.5

Replay:

Very much like Resident Evil 4 there is no multiplayer and it doesnít need it. Just mastering the game and upgrading weapons is enough to come back to it. Figuring out different strategies with different weapons for different scenarios is rather entertaining. The story is good and the atmosphere is nightmare inducing. Pretty much for anybody that has ran through Resident Evil 4 at least nine times and still continues to play it Dead Space is right up your alley.
Rating: 9.0


Overall:

Iíve never played a game that made me wish I had toilet built into my bed, but Dead Space is that game. Itís creepy, itís paced nicely and itís influenced by the right sci-fi horror movies. Dead Space handles beautifully and doesnít make the player feel like playing it is some kind of chore. Dead Space is a passion project from the developers at the EA Redwood studio. And I have one more thing to say. If EA Redwood has anymore passion projects then give them the money to make it.
Rating: 9.3








I'm pretty new to the site but most of my blogs will be reviews to games that I've written. I actually have a good amount from years past so not all of them read the same. If you like them or have any criticisms you want to tell me don't be afraid to. So here's the first of hopefully more blogs.

It takes a special kind of man with big hairy brass balls to lead a bunch of men to their possible deaths. That special man is Staff Sergeant Matt Baker, and he and his men from the 101st Airborne Division charge head long into the gaping maw of death in Brothers In Arms: Hellís Highway.

This series especially now seems to receive a lot of flack because of itís World War II setting. Granted Iím sick of the time frame too, but if the game itís based around is good then I donít mind. The last good WWII shooter (In my opinion) was Call of Duty 2, which was released in November 2005. Ever since then there hasnít been a good one. I remember splurging a couple of weeks ago on Medal of Honor: Airborne expecting something decent. What I was met with was a game that got worse and worse as the stages advanced, several days later it was banished to the bowels of hell (got traded in). Luckily BIA:HH wonít be meeting the same fate because itís actually pretty good.

Story:

BIA:HH takes place during Operation Market Garden. This was the disastrous brain child of Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery. This ďplanĒ called for the airdropping of three divisions (82nd, 101st and 1st airborne divisions) to secure multiple bridges. While troops were able to capture 2/3 bridges they got holed up in Arnhem. Troops were spread thin and supply drop zones ended up getting captured leading the German forces to receive them. Due to a serious of German counter attacks the 101st Airborne has to take position on a narrow stretch of Dutch land leading to Eindhoven. This stretch of land was known as ďHellís Highway.Ē

While BIA:HH doesnít serve as a History Channel documentary it does a more than serviceable job of showing you how soldiers used to interact. Almost everybody has some sort of nick-name and the sense of camaraderie is palpable. You can tell just by looking at them that they are more than willing to sacrifice their lives to protect someone else. There are numerous scenes where the depiction of war is just brutal. Thereís this one scene where Baker and his men have to charge across an open river with little to no cover available. There are men dying around Baker with mortar fire sending bodies upward with bullets knocking off helmets, the scene is intense and riveting. Unlike most WWII games it doesnít ooze patriotism or try to get random gamers to sign up for the armed service, it just depicts war as something brutal with men and even teenage boys stuck in the middle of it.

The overall storyline between Baker and his men just isnít that memorable and ties into the previous games. You can see that watching numerous men (especially Leggett) is something that haunts him. On a side note there are numerous times where youíll either see something the references Leggett or hear is last words, so itís something that is interesting to look for.
Rating: 8.5

Gameplay:

Unlike a good chunk of console FPS fare BIA:HH requires you to utilize tactics, such as cover and flanking maneuvers to get the job done. This is not a run and gun game like Halo and Baker is not a one-man army. If you run out in the open expecting to charge an MG42 nest youíre screwed. Youíre urged to take cover, pull out your map and search the surrounds to look for a flanking position. Luckily youíre not alone and are able to utilize your men for help. Their job is to provide suppressing fire to pin down the enemy while you and another group of men (if you have some) sneak around and shoot them while theyíre caught off guard.

This is just a blast once you get the right rhythm of it. Going from taking out three teams of entrenched men, and then silencing a machine gun nest is great. Itís even better when they give you access to a man with a bazooka. Once you have an enemy pinned with machine gun fire you can use the bazooka to easily wipe them out. Along with the Bazooka squad you have access to a heavy machine gun squad. These guys can also pin an enemy, but they can also destroy soft cover (fences, crates, anything wooden). This can also be done to you and your men, so it pays to watch what you put your men behind. There was sequence where all of the breaking cover and flanking tactics really shined and came together to be really exhilarating. My mission was to silence a bunch of German 88 artillery cannons. One of them was right down the road taking aim at my men and I so I had to find a good route. For starters I had to use my firing squad to pin down enemy soldiers while I made a route somewhere for my bazooka squad to travel through. When the coasts were clear I brought in my assault to assist with back up while also using the bazookas to wipe machine gun nests. Eventually we made it through and took out the 88ís. While the flanking maneuvers are a blast they tend to take you away from them.

There are numerous situations when they take you away from the team and youíre forced to go solo. When this happens youíre forced to rely on the unintuitive cover system. Unlike Gears of War or Uncharted you donít hit the aim button to pop out of cover you use the sticks. While this is something you get used to it doesnít work as well. To be honest if they used Rainbow 6: Vegasí cover system I would not have a problem with it. Thatís because you hold the trigger to get into cover and depress it to get out. But the cover system in BIA:HH is just too sticky and there are times when you just donít out of the cover or get into it fast enough. Granted the cover is a pain and you grow rather used to it, but the main problem at times is your ally A.I.

When you order them to take cover there are times when two of them will take cover properly. Then one of them will take cover on the opposite side (the one that wonít protect them from the bullets) and get Swiss cheesed. Granted there pathfinding does seem to have gotten better. Instead of taking the long way to where I would point them they do hop over obstacles a lot more. Yet on the flipside of that their aiming isnít so sharp. Youíll definitely notice this with the bazooka squad. There are a lot of times where youíll tell them to shoot something, theyíll shoot and theyíll hit 20ft to the left or right of the target. Eventually youíll reposition them and they will hit the intended target. The oddest thing Iíve seen involves your allies running; itís honestly something straight out of a Hanna-Barbera cartoon. When you order them to go somewhere theyíll run for it, and every now and then you will see them running in place for a couple of seconds, only for them to literally zoom off to that destination at twice the pace.

While not perfect BIA:HH can be likened to an interactive version of HBOís acclaimed Band of Brothers series. As long as you donít let the fact that itís a WWII shooter disenfranchise you from a purchase you will enjoy it.
Rating: 8.5

Graphics:

BIA:HH is full of rich detailed graphics and actually offers a color palette outside of grey and brown. Skies are blue and grass is actually green. Thereís a lot of detail on the character models. Bakerís face is scarred from his constant battles. Itís nice picking out the little details on uniforms like what some people have written on them. Your weapons arenít shown to be in pristine condition like in most shooters. Your weapons in BIA:HH actually look like theyíve been used with nicks and scratches on them (sometimes covered in blood). There is the occasional time where there is texture pop in and this even occurs during some of the games cinematics. Itís not going to give you an eye orgasm, but the visuals are pretty good.
Rating: 8.5

Sound:

The voice work for the most part is good. In one scene you have Captain Dale Dye barking orders at people. This just helps to make the game more authentic. Matt Bakers screams orders at his crew shouting over machine gun and mortar fire. When the battle situation goes into dire straights your teammates will scream at you to do something. All of the weapons sound different and they do a good bit of service to the MG42. The MG42 was known to be a rather intimidating sounding weapon and in Hellís Highway, when I hear it I donít want to stick my head up. During some of the spoken dialogue between the crew every now and then there really just seems to be a lack of emotion between them.
Rating: 8.5

Replay:

Well thereís the prerequisite multiplayer which Iím not touchingÖever. Brothers in Arms isnít known for outstanding multiplayer and Iím pretty sure that it wasnít fixed for this version. The single player is a blast though and if youíre looking for shooter action where using your head is emphasized then it can be found here.
Rating: 7.0

Overall:

Gearbox Software has slowly been able to polish the gameplay mechanics that the Brothers in Arms franchise is known for. Anybody looking for a good bit of strategy in their first person shooters knows where to look for. While itís not as groundbreaking as Road to Hill 30 when it was first released it still provides players with an engaging experience. As long as they can iron out their little A.I problems I canít wait to play Aliens: Colonial Marines, which is currently being developed by Gearbox Software.
Rating: 8.5