Ubisoft Brothers in Arms: D-Day
- Tactical map is a cool idea
- Controls, clipping
WWII buffs most likely know that the D-Day airborne landings didn't work so well. The operation was unfocused, badly scattered, and not nearly as effective as it was meant to be. Unfortunately, this particular videogame was a little too faithful to history.
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A few games have proven that first-person shooters can work on the PSP. Ubisoft's new World War II shooter is not one of them.
Brothers in Arms: D-Day tries too hard to keep too much of the series' famous squad-based strategy on a platform that can't support it.
The game's main problem boils down to control, as in too much and not quite enough of it. The console games require two analog sticks to take care of movement, but on the PSP, you're limited to one analog nub. The game clearly needs more buttons for viewing, advancing, and strafing, but Brothers in Arms uses those buttons for other things like squad commands and toggles for the overhead tactical map view.
There are two pre-set control schemes available, neither of which work. "Basic" is too limited, since you can't look and strafe at the same time. "Advanced" is too confusing, splitting the look and strafe commands across the wrong sides of the controller. The only way to smoothly circle around an enemy means relying on a twitchy lock-on control.
"Twitchy" is a word that could get a lot of mileage when it comes to describing this game. Ubisoft Shanghai tried hard with the visuals, relying on the PSP version of Epic's Unreal tech, but they still couldn't patch up every gap.
Clipping is a big problem; the edges of objects project out further than it appears that they should. You can plant your gun sight right on a bad guy with what looks like a perfectly clear line of sight, but the bullet may still bounce off an invisible edge. That's bad news in a game where the main combat tactics require hiding around corners and ducking behind hedgerows.
If the clumsy controls and glitchy graphics hadn't already killed it, there might have been some game left to salvage. The tactical map view — which uses an overhead view that lays out the whole battlefield so you can split up your squad and pry loose a dug-in target — is a pretty cool idea. Once in a while, if you get it just right, its fun to pull off that perfect flanking manoeuvre.
When Do We Go Home, Sarge?
That's not going to happen too often, though. If you do try it, don't expect much satisfaction from D-Day. Instead, plan on watching the framerate skip past you and swearing at the controls. The two-player co-op mode simply doubles the pain.
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