Video Game / Brothers in Arms

"Relive the 502nd Parachute Regiment's historic drop into Normandy...and the remarkable story of the fearless squad leader...who must command his elite team of Paratroopers...and overcome insurmountable odds. Experience the brutal reality of war as a soldier on the front lines of history's greatest battle. Command the most decorated soldiers of their day...as they begin a historic offensive from the sky and fight danger on all sides. Go to war...with the men of the 101st Airborne. Your comrades...your friends...your brothers..."
Narration from Brothers In Arms: Road to Hill 30's trailer

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/brothers_in_arms_logo_7205.png
A First-Person Shooter series set in World War II, 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, DS, Art of War, N-Gage, 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 meets Borderlands.


This series provides examples of:

  • Abandoned Hospital: One is featured in Hell's Highway, abandoned by the doctors and nurses there, and instead occupied by squads of German infantry. It's also where Frankie and his Dutch girlfriend are killed.
  • A Father to His Men: All of the Sergeants. It's telling when each and every subordinate squadmate will make it a point to help or voice concern them when they get injured or are in trouble each time, both in cutscenes and in gameplay.
  • 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.
  • And the Adventure Continues: Road to Hill 30 ends this way, with Baker, the newly-promoted Red, and the rest of 3rd squad moving out to retake the rest of Carentan. Earned in Blood shows us what happens from Red's perspective.
  • Anti-Air: The Germans have two types: the 20mm Flakvierling and later, the 88mm Flak 36. Both are shown firing on Allied aircraft during different parts of each game. And sometimes they're to be destroyed as part of your objectives.
  • Anti-Armor: Different types of anti-tank weapons are shown, ranging from the handheld Panzerfaust, Panzerschreck, and Bazooka, to the much larger Pak 36 and 88mm guns.
  • Anti-Infantry: Machine guns, particularly the MG-42, which are capable of killing soldiers in one hit. The 88mm gun is also used in this role whenever there are no tanks around to back your squad up.
  • 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?
    • Earned in Blood also allows you to, provided you're using American weapons, receive ammo resupplies from your squadmates, a huge step-up from running out of ammo for your Garand or Thompson in Road to Hill 30 in a level where there's no supply crates.
    • Hell's Highway adds supply crates in pretty much every level. Justified, since these containers were dropped alongside the paratroopers.
  • 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, as well as in Earned in Blood, having just found a pair of tanks to steamroll the previously overwhelming attackers.
  • Bittersweet Ending: How all three games end, more or less.
    • Road to Hill 30 ends with about half of Baker's squad, as well as his best friend Sgt. Risner dead, but he and the surviving members of his squad manage to take and later successfully hold Carentan.
    • Earned in Blood ends with Doyle and Paige dead, but Red and his squad manage to capture St. Sauveur long enough to signal in reinforcements, and manage to accomplish their objectives.
    • Hell's Highway ends with Baker's squad accomplishing all their objectives and managing to hold their positions from further German assault, but Frankie and most of Second Squad are killed, and Red is left paralyzed. And Corrion takes a level in jerkass and refuses to associate with Baker any further. Worse, Operation Market-Garden fails.
  • 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. The former leads to Fake Difficulty on Authentic difficulty where you have no crosshair, which wouldn't be so bad except that taking cover takes away your ability to use iron sights, turning every firefight into spray and pray.
  • The Cavalry: Often takes the form of tanks, such as during the Battle of Bloody Gulch, where the 2nd Armored Division plows through the German forces attacking the 101st.
  • 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.
    • Earned in Blood is no slouch either, which includes topics on the weapons and vehicles appearing in-game.
    • Hell's Highway adds "Recon Points", which are basically this trope built into the level itself.
  • 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: 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.
  • Death from Above: The Paratroopers' purpose. In addition aircraft from both sides are shown attacking each other's respective ground forces during certain parts of the story.
  • Destroy the Product Placement: Two separate instances in Hell's Highway. Both cases are justified due to being actual locations destroyed during the fighting that took place there during the actual battle.
    • The first is when fighting breaks out in the Philips headquarters in Eindhoven during "Operation Garden". Specifically, the iconic Philips logo on the roof of the building is damaged by gunfire, with Baker also providing sniper support just behind the sign.
    • The second takes place around a Shell gas station. Should the gas pumps be hit by a stray bullet, the "S" on the roof of the gas station falls off, leaving behind "hell", appropriately enough.
  • 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, often supported by Panzers or Tank Destroyers. Both of them are notorious for packing more deadly automatic weapons than regular German infantry units.
  • The Enemy Weapons Are Better: Played straight in Road to Hill 30, where, due to a shortage of resupply crates, your weapons can easily run out of ammunition, and you'll eventually be forced to switch out for a Kar 98 or MP-40 at some point. Also applies to some of the weapons themselves, as the MP-40 and STG-44 have higher capacity than their American counterparts.
  • Epic Tank-on-Tank Action: Happens frequently throughout all three games, but the most notable example would be the Shermans of the 2nd Armored Division taking on Panzers of the 17th SS late in "No Better Spot to Die".
  • Excuse Plot: The Gameloft spinoffs, especially Global Front. Unlike the main series games, which rely heavily on story, they forego any storytelling whatsoever, and what's left of any semblance of a plot is put aside in favor of casual gameplay.
  • 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. If you've read the history of Operation Market-Garden, you know that the Airborne soldiers will fail the operation, and suffer heavy casualties in the process.
  • Fragile Speedster: The M5 Stuart light tank. While it is much faster than contemporary German tanks like the Stug it comes up against, it also comes at the price of having far less armor. This is 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 B.S.O.D.: 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 and Col. Johnson in Earned in Blood and Lt. Col Sink in Hell's Highway. The well-known World War II historian Col. S.L.A Marshall interviews Red about the events in Earned in Blood. Dwight D. Eisenhower, World War II 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:
    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.
  • Mighty Glacier: German tanks and tank destroyers in comparison to their American counterparts. They have heavier frontal armor and harder-hitting main guns, but this comes at the cost of them being less maneuverable and slower.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Road to Hill 30 itself, especially a lot of the later levels, as well.
  • 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.
  • Plot Armor: The members of your squad can die in missions, but they will magically come back to life (with no injuries) at the end of the level. They can only be permanently killed in scripted storyline events.
  • Plunger Detonator: One is used to destroy a bridge in the mission "Alternate Route" in Hill 30, in order to prevent German tanks from using it.
  • Promoted to Playable: In Earned in Blood, you play as Hartsock, who was an NPC in the first game.
  • Reality Has No Soundtrack: Unlike other World War II FPS games, this series has no background music whatsoever during the levels themselves. Instead, all the listed soundtracks for all three games are only played during cutscenes and main menu portions.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out: In "No Better Spot to Die" and "Bloody Gulch", one will notice that, after Baker wakes up and/or Red manages to return back to their own lines just after most of Mac's men are killed, there's a knocked out Panzer IV stuck near part of the hill the paratroopers are defending from, an obvious nod to a similar scene in the same battle from Band of Brothers, with the only difference being that in that series it was instead a Stug Assault gun.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: Downplayed. The only times German troops will suicidally charge at your position is when they're cornered and/or you and your squadmates are out in the open.
  • Sniping Mission: Several of the levels in all 3 games.
    • Road to Hill 30 has "Purple Heart Lane" and "Tom and Jerry", where Baker is provided a Springfield sniper rifle to support the rest of his squad as well as take out enemy snipers.
    • Earned in Blood has "Hell's Corners", where Red is provided a Kar 98 sniper rifle to pick off German snipers across a dam, as well as across a field.
    • Hell's Highway has the third portion of "Operation Garden", where Baker has to snipe SS soldiers with a captured Gewehr 43 sniper rifle in order to help Peter.
  • Story-to-Gameplay Ratio: Closer to the story end on the scale than most other WWII shooters.
  • 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.
  • Tank Goodness: Several tanks 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 Stug 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, and the Panzer IV H/J for the Germans.
  • 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. You're in World War II here.
  • 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.
  • 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, hamlets, towns, and finally, the city of 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, 88s 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.
  • 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.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/VideoGame/BrothersInArms