Video Game: Brothers in Arms
A First-Person Shooter
set in World War 2
, developed by Gearbox Software
, focusing on using squad-tactics and strategy as opposed to the run-and-gun gameplay style more common to First Person Shooters
. The main series includes Road to Hill 30
, Earned in Blood
, and Hell's Highway
. It has spinoffs for handheld consoles and mobile phones titled D-Day
, Art of War
, Double Time
, Hour of Heroes
, and Global Front
The first title in the series, Road to Hill 30
, puts you in control of Sergeant Matt Baker, a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne of the US Army during the Normandy invasion. The game depicts the midnight jump before D-Day, the fighting on the way to the French city of Carentan, its capture from the Germans and the subsequent defense against the German counter-attack at Hill 30. Baker can tell his men where to take cover and who to fire at. The game uses a suppression mechanic
that requires the player to use Baker and his squad to suppress and flank the enemy.Earned In Blood
puts you in control of "Red" Hartsock, a Corporal in Baker's squad. It shows some of the events in the first game from Red's perspective, leading to his promotion to Sergeant after the Battle of Bloody Gulch
. After Red's promotion, his squad clears out the remnant of the German forces from Carentan and moves towards Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte
to give the 82nd Airborne some maps of the German defenses surrounding the area and decides to stay and help take the castle.
The third game, Hell's Highway
, puts the player back in control of Sergeant Matt Baker during Operation Market Garden. The events depicted include the failure of the 101st to take the bridge at Son before the Germans could blow it up, the liberation of Eindhoven, and the evacuation after the failure of the Operation Market Garden. This game is notable in that it's one of the few to depict a soldier with PTSD.
The ending of the third game hinted at a sequel taking place during The Battle of the Bulge. However, poorer than predicted sales and a surprise hit for developer Gearbox with Borderlands
have likely put the title at lower priority for development. At PAX 2011
Randy Pitchford, President of Gearbox, confirmed that a continuation of Baker's story is in the works. No further details were made available.Furious 4
was originally set to be a sequel/spin-off. The game is a radical departure from the realistic and somber tone of the series and could best be described as Inglourious Basterds
This series provides examples of:
- A Father to His Men: All of the Sergeants.
- Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Used to great effect in Hell's Highway when Baker tells Red he is paralyzed from the waist down and will never walk again.
- Anti-Frustration Features: Die enough times at the same checkpoint, and you'll get the option to heal and replenish your ammunition before your next attempt. This is the only healing available during missions in the first two games. It's Lampshaded by the devs:
Heal Screen: War isn't fair, but a video game should be. Would you like to heal your squad?
- Anyone Can Die: Quite a few named characters with personalities don't survive the Normandy invasion or Operation Market Garden, sometimes completely by pure chance.
- Big Damn Heroes: Baker returning to the squad at the end of Road to Hill 30, having just found a pair of tanks to steamroll the previously overwhelming attackers.
- Break Meter: Shoot at or near an enemy repeatedly, and they'll be Pinned Down and won't be able to attack as effectively.
- Brits with Battleships: Hell's Highway features them in the form of British tanks. The infantry make appearances, but are Out of Focus.
- Camera Perspective Switch: In Hell's Highway, taking cover switches the view to a Third-Person Shooter, as do the tank driving sections.
- Child Soldiers: Baker's squad suspects that Franky lied about his age to join the Army.
- Concept Art Gallery: The Road to Hill 30 has a rather thick one, which also includes reproductions of historical documents related to war.
- Contemplate Our Navels: Baker, way too much. Even lampshaded by several squad members in Earned in Blood, while under fire.
Back in England, we'd be playing baseball or something, but not Baker! He'd always be off staring at the sky or some shit!
- Continuity Lockout/Late-Arrival Spoiler: So much of the third game references important events like the deaths of certain characters. Without playing the first two you don't know the exact circumstances surrounding those deaths so it gets rather confusing.
- Dead Person Conversation: In Hell's Highway, Baker occasionally converses with a hallucination/ghost of Leggett. It may be a ghost because Leggett hints at the location of the next battle, something a hallucination is unlikely to do.
- Elite Mooks: Two of them; the Fallschirmjager and the Waffen-SS. The former are essentially German Paratroopers who, like their American counterparts, are all volunteers. The latter are mechanized infantry armed with the latest and most advanced weapons Nazi Germany has to offer. Both of them are notorious for packing more deadly automatic weapons than other German infantry units.
- Excuse Plot: The Gameloft spinoffs, especially Global Front.
- Fackler Scale of FPS Realism: This series falls toward the realism end of the scale with authentic weaponry and squad tactics. Levels are based off of actual locations in Normandy and Holland and after action reports from battles.
- Fingore: Red gets part of his ring finger blown off in Baupte. He keeps fighting anyway.
Red: The only married man in the entire squad gets his ringfinger blown off.
- Foregone Conclusion: Hell's Highway.
- Fragile Speedster: The M5 Stuart light tank. Demonstrated tragically when Sgt. Risner's own M5 is destroyed in one hit by a Panzerfaust-wielding soldier, presumably killing the rest of his crew in the process.
- Gallows Humor:
Garnett: What do you think killed him?
Allen: I don't know, but it wasn't old age.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: In Road to Hill 30 and Earned in Blood, poor tactical decisions can get your squad mates killed, but they always reappear in the next mission, unless they get Killed Off for Real: Subverted in Hell's Highway, which introduces mid-level cutscenes to the series: if a squad mate is lost, instead of being killed he is merely wounded and can be seen writhing on the ground, and are then conveniently healed for the next cutscene.
- Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Dawson doesn't wear a helmet since it interferes with his aim, apparently. Averted by everybody else, given the setting, unless they get shot off in combat without somehow also killing them.
- In Road to Hill 30, Red throws his helmet in the river after Desola is killed. In Earned in Blood, he mentions to Colonel Marshall he swam back into the river and recovered it, because he felt it his responsibility to his wife and young child to try and stay alive.
- In the third game at least, Baker starts most missions with his helmet on. It CAN be shot off, the remainder of the mission is then fought without the helmet.
- Heroic BSOD: Private First Class Kevin Leggett. Having gotten two of the most popular squad members killed earlier in the game, he becomes notably traumatized. At the end, frustratedly getting no response on the radio for support in an overwhelming situation, he pulls out a pistol, jumps on top of their cover, and shoots at the enemy tanks screaming for them to shoot him.
- Hero of Another Story:
- Sergeant Hassey and Leggett in Road to Hill 30.
- In Earned in Blood, which is from Red's POV, Baker and his squad. Also, Doyle, an 82nd Airborne trooper who Red meets on D-Day and keeps running into him afterwards. Also, the entire 82nd Airborne.
- Red and his 2nd Squad in Hell's Highway.
- Historical-Domain Character: Lt Col. Cole in all three games, Lt Col. Cassidy in Earned in Blood and Lt. Col Sink in Hell's Highway. The well-known WW2 historian Col. S.L.A Marshall interviews Red about the events in Earned in Blood. Dwight D. Eisenhower, WW2 hero and future president, appears in a (deleted) cutscene.
- How We Got Here:
- In Road to Hill 30, the first level starts at the battle at the eponymous Hill 30 and we witness the death of Leggett whom we haven't got to know yet. After the player character is knocked out by a tank, the story flashes back to the jump over Normandy.
- Earned in Blood opens with Red telling his story thus far to an army recorder. As they mention certain conflicts, the camera fades into that situation as the gameplay begins.
- The third game, Hell's Highway, starts at about the midpoint story wise and flashes back to the glider landings at the beginning of Operation Market Garden.
- Hypothetical Fight Debate: Allen, Garnett and Leggett have a Superman vs. Batman argument.
- It's Raining Men: Naturally, considering these games focus on the 101st Airborne division, as well as the 82nd Airborne Division in Earned in Blood. Taken Up to Eleven in Hell's Highway, which is about the largest airborne operation during World War II, Operation Market Garden.
- Ludicrous Gibs: Doyle is blown up by a Panzer shell in Earned in Blood, leaving only a shitload of blood smeared on the ground and an 82nd Airborne patch.
- Killed Mid-Sentence/Curse Cut Short:
Garnett: Guys, get the fu-
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: In Hell's Highway, Baker is haunted hallucinations of Leggett, whom interact with him in the final levels. Their final conversation suggest that Leggett may be a ghost, as he hints towards the location of the next battle. It's left ambiguous.
- Mind Screw: Baker starts seeing hallucinations in Hell's Highway. They're rare, but just often enough to make the player doubt what they may be seeing in solo sections.
- Mission Pack Sequel: Earned In Blood. Pretty much the same game play as the first game but played from Red's perspective with new levels. Fans of the original enjoyed the difficulty spike however.
- Mood Whiplash: Surprisingly common.
Friar: Paddock, you are not shooting the jeep!
Jasper: Looks like Dawson had to piss...on a...British guy? note
- In the first game, Leggett, Allen and Garnett are discussing which super hero is cooler, Batman or Superman, when mortars start going off around you. They are having a similar conversation at the beginning of The Reveal scene in Hell's Highway showing how Allen and Garnett died.
- Nazis with Gnarly Weapons: The game's antagonists, though only the Waffen-SS play the Nazi part straight.
- Nintendo Hard: Earned in Blood can be this at points, especially whenever the game pits you against multiple tanks at once with little to no cover.
- Not Enough to Bury: In Earned in Blood, Doyle when he gets shot by a German tank. The only remains Hartsock finds of him is his 82nd Airborne patch, which he is seen wearing in Hell's Highway.
- Pinned Down: One of the cornerstones of gameplay to suppress enemies with sustained gunfire, then flank them. Suppressing them reduces both their accuracy and rate of fire. Not doing so often leads to someone getting shot if they're out of cover.
- Reality Is Unrealistic: In the level Objective XYZ, you're tasked with clearing a small french village of German troops with one soldier as back up. This based off an actual event.
- Regenerating Health: Third game only, accomplished by representing health as luck — if too many shots are fired at you in quick succession, one will eventually hit you for an instant kill.
- Tank Goodness: Several tanks and SP Gs from both sides appear in the game, and are usually part of your squad in certain missions, starting with the M5 Stuart and later the M4 Sherman for the Americans, the Stu G III A/F and Panzer IV F1 for the Germans. Earned in Blood adds the long-barreled Panzer IV G which replaces the F1 in the single-player campaign, as well as adding the M10 Wolverine Tank Destroyer for the Americans. Hell's Highway brings in the Sherman Firefly, a british variant of the Sherman designed specifically for tank-killing.
- Take Cover: The other cornerstone of gameplay is taking cover to avoid getting shot. Anyone in cover is much harder to hit (especially in the first two games), unless they're flanked.
- There Are No Therapists: A Justified Trope in Hell's Highway - you're a paratrooper who's deep in enemy territory. Plus, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder was not understood in modern-contexts until after the Vietnam War. And you're in World War 2.
- The Reveal: Turns out that the reason why Baker has been hallucinating/haunted by Legget is because he ordered Leggett to tell no one how Allen and Garnett died, and the stress of keeping the secret, coupled with a critical injury on the battlefield, led Leggett to effectively commit suicide by shooting at an enemy tank with a pistol.
- It is revealed in the same scene that Leggett was partly responsible for Allen's and Garnett's deaths, because he started a fight with Allen that attracted a German patrol, which is why Baker wanted Leggett to keep the circumstances of the death's a secret in the first place, for fear that the rest of the squad would kill Leggett.
- Those Two Guys: Allen and Garnett. They even die together. Lampshaded in a Road to Hill 30 cutscene:
Baker: Eventually we started saying Allen'n'Garnett like it was one name.
- Shown Their Work: Gearbox hired a US Army LT. Col. and military historian to teach them real world tactics and to help write the story with authenticity. They also fired every weapon that is in the game to accurately model them. Gearbox also took a massive road trip to France to photograph the locations of battles. Using these photos as well as old maps and photos from the war they designed the levels.
- Also applies on a literal level: content unlocked by winning missions on various difficulties includes the aforementioned photos of the real locations the mission maps are based on, information about the equipment used by soldiers on both sides of the war, and biographical data on the 82nd and 101st Airborne divisions.
- Suicidal Overconfidence: Averted, thanks to the aforementioned Break Meter.
- Sniping Mission: Several games in the series.
- Story-to-Gameplay Ratio: Closer to the story end on the scale than most other WWII shooters.
- Tragic Keepsake: Red carries Doyle's 82nd Airborne patch on his helmet.
- Unexpected Gameplay Change: In Hell's Highway, you occasionally take control of a British tank commander in a Sherman Firefly.
- Urban Warfare: Constantly.
- Road to Hill 30 has a few "smaller" villages, and Carentan. The latter is ridiculously hard because of the tight-corners, tanks and the assault-rifle carrying Germans.
- Saint-Sauveur in Earned in Blood takes this Up to Eleven. Apart from narrow corridors, machine gun nests, assault-rifle armed stormtroopers and a ridiculous amount of tanks, what could make it harder? Why, 88's of course.
- Hell's Highway has damn near every level centered around urban warfare.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Allen and Garnett from Road to Hill 30. They're always seen together, but bicker with each other quite a bit.
- War Is Hell: One of the few war games to actually depict PTSD, and in a distressing way.
- World War II
- Yanks with Tanks: The game's protagonists. Literally with Sgt. Risner and every Sherman tank commander from the 2nd Armored Division.
- You All Look Familiar: Let's face it, it's not exactly easy to tell a lot of these characters apart at a glance, due to the identical uniforms. Their faces aren't identical, but first-timers may still be grasping to try to remember who's who.
- The third game does a little better by fleshing the individual characters out and making them more unique, but it's still sometimes difficult to figure out who from who.