Like the title, not the game

By Bill Hanley

Once in a while, a video game will avoid the temptation of slapping a number on the end of the title to infer a sequel. The sheer fact that “Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood” was able to resist made me want to play it. Only eight months after I felt cheated for buying the original, “Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30,” I decided to forgive whichever marketing department made the game look appealing enough to buy, and thought that I should give the second installment a chance.

I soon realized what I was in for. If you did not know that this game was a sequel, then the first couple of minutes will be confusing and pointless. The game starts with a narrative that retells a portion of the first

video game for no apparent reason. The first game was not good enough to merit any sort of involvement in the sequel.

Nevertheless, the original is seen everywhere in “Earned in Blood.” All of the game play remains unchanged, as does most everything else in the game. “Earned in Blood” even inherited all the flaws and most annoying aspects from its predecessor. The game is heavily dependant on controlling your teammates, and this is where the problems truly begin.

Controlling a squad of soldiers during intense battles could be fun, if your teammates were smarter than Geraldo Rivera. The majority of the time is spent having to drag along a bunch of incompetent teammates until you can finally beat each mission by yourself. Normally, you only have to cope with your teammates’ stupidity until they get themselves killed, and then they are not so bad to work with.

All of this team-based fun takes place on a map that only acts to aggravate you. Each one is filled with a variety of low walls and fallen trees that are no taller than your knee, but are able to stop any soldier from stepping over them. Every fence that is meant to keep sheep in their pasture is apparently so well made it can stop even America’s elite. This is by far the game’s favorite method of showing you where to go, but not letting you get there.

Still, the game is designed to force the player to develop strategies that uses his computer controlled teammates and the terrain. Yet, most of the missions do not allow for any creativity. This gives almost every mission the same feel, with no solution. Everywhere you look there are simple actions which the game does not allow you to perform. This becomes frustrating after you run through maze after maze of low brick walls, and the whole time the enemy is able to shoot at you.

This ends up ruining the strategy portion of the game, because there is no strategy in this game. The monotony is only added to by the graphics. Very few things in this game stand out visually. Most things blend into the background, which isn’t necessarily bad, considering the graphics are sub par to begin with.

Fortunately, “Earned in Blood” has more than just a single player version. There are several options that allow for split-screen and online play. You can play against a friend with a second controller, which does spice up the game slightly. In the multiplayer modes, most of the missions replicate the single-player format with one notable exception. In multiplayer there are some missions that require the player to be on the defensive and hold off waves of enemy troops. This is a welcome change compared to the rest of the game.

On the whole, the multiplayer option is not much better than the solo mode. It looks tempting, but it loses its luster fairly quickly. The whole game feels like it copied the original a little too much. In the true spirit of the first game, “Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood” makes me feel like I have been cheated again.

Bill Hanley is a senior in LAS. His column appears on Tuesdays. He can be reached at features