Review: Brothers In Arms DS

War is hell. Fortunately Ubisoft’s Brothers In Arms DS is a delight.

War is one of those things that no one wants to really endure. It is one of those things however that we don’t seem to mind playing. There is a cacophony of war games out there but there is only one for the Nintendo DS and that is Ubisoft’s recently released Brothers In Arms DS.

Let me just say that Gearbox have done an excellent job in bringing their award winning “Brothers In Arms” series to the DS. The game is fun, challenging and really is a great game hands down.

Brothers In Arms DS puts you in the shoes of a World War II soldier fighting for the Americans during the final few years in 1942-1944. You’ll start out in Normandy where you’re really thrust into the action and will have to endure some pretty fierce action from the get-go. If you make it through Normandy, you’ll get to see Tunis and Ardennes, but that’s if you make it through because this game gets hard.

I say it’s hard because it really can be. Yet even with the depth of how challenging it is, Brothers In Arms DS always manages to be fun. It’s not one of those games where you’ll get killed and then want to throw your DS out of a window because it’s hard. Some how, Brothers In Arms keeps you interested and playing, with you always coming back to beat the next bad guy.

Lucky for you, Gearbox has enacted a system of checkpoints so that after trudging through a series of enemies, you won’t necessarily have to start from scratch depending on where you got to last. This makes the game a lot more fun and you don’t have to worry about losing a battle and then dealing with the angst of knowing that you’re going to have to do it again and again.

The game-play is fun and frantic and really works to give you the World War II experience as best as it can on a portable console. You’ll have to duck behind objects, lob grenades, drive tanks & four-wheeled drives, use bazookas… it really is the whole shebang. The shooting isn’t just random, either. You can pull off headshots and while it seems like there’s computer assisted aiming here, you still have to do some work to get your target locked onto your prey.

At your command is an excellent set of controls. Gearbox have done a great job of making the controls suitable for both left and right-handed gamers which is something some developers are still struggling to work into their games. You’ll be using your stylus to aim in this third-person shooter, the D-pad or ABXY buttons for movement (depending on your handedness), the shoulder buttons for shooting, and the touchscreen for other functions like reloading clips, throwing grenades, and climbing onto tanks. It’s not a hard system to get used to and it’ll quickly become second nature as you run through the levels.

The sound is excellent with nice & clear sounds for almost everything even with a fair amount of dialogue being said by the enemies and your squad. It only really buzzes with explosions and that seems to be when too much is going on at the time. The graphics too aren’t bad and seem to pretty good for a game this loaded on the DS. There are times when the visuals might seem very blocky and muddied but that generally passes as you’re unlikely to sit and watch the visuals before someone starts shooting your way.

There’s even a decent multiplayer mode that lets you play Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch with your friends. It does lack connection to Nintendo’s online gaming servers which is a shame, but there’s enough of the single-player game to not feel that multiplayer was left neglected as it certainly wasn’t.

Some of the weaker parts of Brothers In Arms DS seem to be things like the camera and the squad AI. The camera is great for the most part, but every so often it’ll get itself stuck behind a building and you’ll be blown up because you can’t shift away from it. This is a different problem from the squad Artificial Intelligence which just ultimately seems unintelligent. From my playing of the game, it seems more like the members of your squad will rarely hit anything they fire at. More than likely, it’ll be down to you to make the shots counts since they’ll be too busy hitting air.

Fortunately, these weaker elements do nothing to bring down the game. Ubisoft & Gearbox have packaged a really exceptional game here and it’s well worth anyone’s collection.

DeveloperGearbox Software
Classification– M
Formats– Nintendo DS
URLBrothers In Arms DS

Reviewed by Leigh D. Stark