Price: $6.99 Download on the App Store
As the iPhone continues to impress with it’s capacity to provide meaningful gameplay experiences, Gameloft has delivered a very ambitious game in Brothers In Arms: Hour of Heroes (BIA) that provides a trip back to World War II. I typically enjoy any game that allows me to bring some heat to the Nazi Germany war machine, so I was seriously hoping this app wouldn’t disappoint. Regarding answering the question if this game delivers, I’d say it’s complicated...
The scope of this game is immense for game being released at this stage in the iPhone’s life. There are three different hubs that have several missions in each of them. Over the course of the game’s 13 missions, the variety in gameplay is awesome. There are some nicely paced typical missions like clearing out enemies and setting explosives on enemy targets that are fun. In addition, more unique missions include driving tanks and jeeps to being a sniper that keep things from being monotonous. To top if off, Brothers In Arms has achievements that are triggered from accomplishing in-game milestones like hitting thresholds in melee or sniper kills, for example. With Brothers In Arms: Hour of Heroes campaign structure, I don’t have any issues or complaints.
Gameloft deserves some applause for what they have done from a presentation standpoint. Brothers In Arms has the trimmings of a premium handheld game. The opening cinema is gorgeous, the menus are slick, and there are plenty of options to customize the game. The real time graphics consist of polygonal 3D characters and environments that are usually good. The annoyances in the graphics lie in polygonal clipping and draw-in which are very distracting. It’s also important to note that the frame rate dips into the single digit realm on some of the busier levels (Tank Mission, I’m looking at you!!).
Brothers In Arms shines in the audio department. Like many other World War II themed games, BIA does a good job of juxtaposing beautifully orchestrated music with the chaos going on in the battlefield. When equipped with headphones, the sound raises the immersion factor with position-specific audio. This is especially helpful because it allows you to hear where gunfire is coming from to react accordingly.
Despite my satisfaction with how the game is laid out, the make-or-break component of a game like this are the controls. To give a synopsis on the controls, I’d say they're hit and miss. Gameloft has opted to create a simulated dual analog type of scheme that serves as the core control mechanism. In the bottom left corner of the screen, there is a circle that essentially controls like an analog stick. The right thumb is used to control the camera to change the perspective in the 3D environment. On-screen buttons are used to change weapons, fire weapons, and other contextual actions like planting explosives. The problem is that the controls are unpredictable.
For some stretches, the controls feel like they are registering as they should. In other stretches, the controls were so infuriating that I almost wanted to chuck my iPhone out the window. The truth is that nobody likes dying or failing missions because of controls, and that happens frequently in this game.
I have much appreciation for what Gameloft was shooting for with this game. You can tell the development team poured a substantial amount of time and energy into the game. Despite all of that, the controls are too clunky to fully recommend this game for everyone. At the end of the day, Brothers in Arms: Hour of Heroes is a great game that gets in it’s own way by uneven and inconsistent controls. With a patch that focuses on shoring up the controls, this game has the potential to catapult into elite territory.