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Letters from the Front

Retro Throwback is a brand new series that revisits games of old. This week, for our introductory issue, I’m taking a look back at Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30.

The Four F’s. Find them, fix em, flank, and finish. These rules are rules that I haven’t forgetten and have kept using them since the game released all the way back in 2005. The Four F’s are an authentic military maneuver that requires you to find the point of contact and wipe out the enemy, this tactic is one of many that is used within Brothers in Arms and is the reason why the Brothers in Arms games stands tall among WW2 era games from the mid-2000’s.

The campaign is based on the real life events of the 502nd PIR, a unit from the 101st Airborne Division and their mission to capture the town of Carentan during Operation Overlord and follows the exploits of Staff Sgt. Matthew Baker, a character based on a multitude of different real life people that fought in World War II. This is where the game begins: The game begins as Paratroopers drop behind enemy lines on the night of the largest invasion in history to destroy German artillery batteries, thousands of parachutes gliding towards the beautiful French countryside as the night sky is cut by AA batteries and Flak guns.

The descent is remarkable although the game doesn’t begin here. It begins with you landing in a rural maze of hedgerows and farmhouses where you have nothing except for your handgun. When you encounter your first enemy, the Germans won’t blindly charge at you but instead take cover behind a cart where they begin shooting at you and it becomes into a classic Mexican standoff. After a while, the combat becomes more complicated and you have to use your squad.

In Brothers in Arms, you typically are in control of two teams consisted of three men: Your Fire Team is your basic infantry riflemen and a Support gunner outfitted with a BAR while your Assault Team has more assault-oriented weapons like the M1A1 Thompson and the M1A1 Carbine. It’s a lot of responsibility, especially as you get closer towards the end of the game and you become attached to the characters.

While your men can’t die in-game as opposed to games like X-COM, Brothers in Arms gives you a reason to care. Before each campaign mission, Baker begins a small little speech about the men who is under his care and how he reflects on small little things that his men does and then it slowly begins to unravel as his men slowly gets picked off one by one by the German Army as they approach their objective of Carentan. It’s a story that is incredibly personal about how war affects everything and everyone and it is one of the reasons why Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 stands the test of time.

Road to Hill 30 is 14 years old and it has aged in places and things have gotten worse. As gaming progressed, I became used to standard controls and standard features like a sprint button and Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 shows that games in the 2000s were weird and very clunky, I struggled with aiming and struggled for a good portion before ending my play session right after Objective XYZ.

Regardless of the issues that sprung up in the 14 year interim since I played this game, Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 is still a very powerful game and a very powerful WW2 game. It still reminds me that one day, we will get a sequel to the third game in the series. You should definitely give this one a shot.

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