Posted By: wraggster
It's time to dust off those combat boots. Just weeks after EA shipped Medal of Honor: Heroes for the PSP, Ubisoft is readying its own invasion on Sony's handheld with Brothers in Arms: D-Day, scheduled to ship December 5th. It takes place during the Normandy invasion and chronicles the harrowing account of two soldiers, Sergeants Baker and Hartsock. Fans of the original Brothers in Arms PC titles should recognize these names right away.
Sergeant Baker starred in the first game, titled Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 while Sergeant Hartsock appeared in the sequel, Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood. The latter improved upon Road to Hill 30 by adding improved enemy AI and enhanced squad tactics. These improvements should carry over to D-Day, the first title in the series to hit the PSP. It takes place during the same time as its PC predecessors, since it focuses on the actual invasion of Normandy and not some other chapter of World War II. Truth be told, the maps and enemy placements will seem strikingly familiar, since developers took pieces of both PC titles and clumped them together to form D-Day.
Except for a few minor details, the maps themselves are identical to those used in Road to Hill 30 and Earned in Blood. That's unquestionably a good thing for those who haven't experience them yet, but real veterans will need a little more. Developers didn't ignore them, thankfully. D-Day also includes a slew of features and extras exclusive to the PSP. Among these additions are four new maps that have yet to appear anywhere. These go along with the dozen or so maps from older games to form a very respectable set of scenarios. The only real difference is the way developers tweaked them to play better on a portable device. The needs of a mobile gamer differ from those of a stationary one, after all, and it's always nice when game makers recognize that.
Take checkpoints, for starters. D-Day has far more of them than its predecessors. In a realistic combat series like Brothers in Arms, death occurs constantly. Players don't get the benefit of body armor or super powers, so all it takes is a few shots to end the game. The game also has reworked controls to make the action bearable on a handheld. The PSP analog stick handles character movement where the D-Pad handles crouching, weapon selection and reloading. The face buttons take care of grenade tossing (complete with throwing trajectory) and context-sensitive actions, from planting explosives to opening doors. It all seems to work well, for now, but it's unclear whether players can manually change the control scheme to suit personal tastes.
But what really makes the game special, and what fans really loved about the original games, is the level of strategy missing from most World War II shooters. Using what developers call the situation awareness view, players can trigger a birds-eye view of the battlefield at any time by pressing select. It's then possible to cycle between enemy and allied placements, as well as plan flanking maneuvers. It works the same way on PSP as it does on the PC, so there's no real compromise. It's also just as impressive to watch the camera pull back from the action and float high up in the sky.
One of the unrealistic (yet immensely helpful) features in the Brothers in Arms series are suppression gauges. When players begin firing at an enemy, an icon appears above the target's head to indicate their level of suppression. This lets a player know immediately whether they can run to a new point of cover or whether they need to stay put. It's especially helpful on the PSP since the screen is far smaller than a PC monitor and it's harder to see what enemies are doing. In addition to all this, D-Day also includes a separate story-based co-op for two players, as well as a series of multiplayer modes, such as the skirmish mode seen in EA's Medal of Honor: Heroes.
Look for the review of Brothers in Arms: D-Day sometime soon.