I have been a fan of the Brothers in Arms series ever since the first game was released. The emphasis on authenticity of World War II events, use of actual tactics in combat, and attention to detail, all worked together to make a great WWII tactical shooter. Brothers in Arms: Furious 4 (F4) didn’t seem like any of those. The trailer at the Ubisoft press conference showed a completely over-the-top, comedic shooter with cartoony visuals; a game just sharing the name, and nothing else. I was still seething at what they had done to my beloved franchise when I happened upon the behind-closed-door showing of F4. The line outside was a small one, so I decided to go in, throw a fit at the developers inside and storm out.
What I was not prepared for was to see a lovely lady dressed as a German barmaid offering authentic German beer from a cask as we stepped in. Convinced that they intend to get us drunk before the play-through, I accepted the glass, but didn’t drink. Inside the booth were four members of the dev team to co-op through a level of the game, where the four protagonists are “somewhere in Germany” to take Hitler out. Much like Inglourious Basterds, the game is set in an alternative storyline, where four American special operatives go behind enemy lines to kill Hitler, and are successful in doing so. This gives the game the license to stray into the realm of the ludicrous, where giant super soldiers and humongous dual-rotor choppers are the order of the day.
The game places you in a fun fair leading to a castle, where Hitler is supposed to be holed up. Soon, you find yourself in a firefight, shooting at Nazis with reckless abandon, watching body parts fly all around, and comically at that. There are explosions aplenty, thanks to the ubiquitous flammable barrels placed all over the level. Chainsawing Nazis fills your screen with copious amounts of blood. Foot soldiers are set on fire with glee. The stylised, cartoonish visuals of the game seem strangely mesmerising when combined with the unusually high level of gore in the game. The alternate weapons excel at this. Tomahawks and pick axes decapitate, while cattle brands fly through the air like spears and the electrocution gun makes short work of enemies.
In between, you will have slow-mo action sequences, where you will be sitting in the back of a jeep as it tears through a pub, shooting anything that can move or explode. Doing so gets you XP points, which can be used to unlock better weapons, which in our case was a bear trap equipped with grenades. These were generously thrown around the pub, which would then trap the incoming soldiers and explode in satisfying gibs of blood and body parts. The demo ended with ganging up on a super soldier and taking down a huge chopper that had the caption ‘Blow This Up’ in bold letters hovering around it. The helicopter ended up crashing in to the giant Ferris wheel, which promptly broke free and rolled through the Fuehrer’s castle.
All the enthusiasm of the Gearbox developers rubbed off on us as well as we gasped and clapped through this gore-filled, over-the-top version of World War II. I had gone in expecting to be pissed off even more, but came out having thoroughly enjoyed a full-on action game that doesn’t take itself too seriously. For the Brothers in Arms fans out there, Gearbox will eventually be continuing with Matt Baker’s storyline, but for now, it is time to take a break, put on your Inglourious Basterds boots, grab a beer, and brand some Nazi’s, Furious 4 style.
Brothers in Arms: Furious 4 is scheduled for release in 2012 for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.