E3 2011: Brothers in Arms: Furious 4 Preview – It’s Brothers in Arms, But Not As You Know It
Written Tuesday, June 14, 2011 By Dan WebbView author's profile
World War II games have had their day. For so long were they overused, although that’s not the case in the last few years or so. So when Gearbox took to the stage at Ubisoft’s E3 press conference to announce their latest Brother in Arms title would not only be coming in 2012, but that it'll also be returning to the World War II era, admittedly I raised an eyebrow. But after seeing the game in action at this year’s trade show, this isn’t Brother in Arms as you know it. In fact, it’s not even World War II as you know it. This is balls to the walls crazy and a new take on the once oversaturated WWII era.
Brother in Arms: Furious 4 - in case you were wondering - shares very few similarities with the rest of the franchise. It isn’t meant to be a sombre journey into the lives of Matt Baker and his crew. It’s not even serious or factual. It is a shooter though, it follows a squad of soldiers and it is set during World War II, but that’s about it. That’s not to say the adventures of Matt Baker have been forgotten - far from it - but this is a new story. While this is Brother in Arms in name, it’s certainly not Brother in Arms in nature… and honestly, we’re more than alright with that.
At the core of Furious 4, like Borderlands, is a co-op experience, which Gearbox promises us will be available to play in single-player with AI, online and via split-screen (2-player though). It’s a simple premise with a less than simple setup: kill Hitler. Our demo at E3 this year saw us take the perspective of Montana, a huge tank of a guy wielding a chain gun, with the objective of infiltrating a town, which was oozing with Nazi presence and the is said to be housing Hitler himself.
Its visual style is not like anything you’ll have experienced in many other WWII titles, with bright colours, illuminated structures and fireworks galore dominating the horizon. With a bright coliseum and ginormous Ferris wheel towering above the quaint German town, and a huge beaming moon dominating the skies, you know already that this isn’t going to be your traditional WWII shooter.
Like many games are shooting for these days, Furious 4 adopts a scoring system of sorts, which then ties into the game’s upgrade/weapon unlocks/perks system, meaning that there will always be something to work towards. It’s also a shooter with a difference, meaning that Montana, instead of having grenades, will actually have bear traps instead, which then can be upgraded to becoming explosive bear traps by throwing a grenade into the mix. Not exactly the Allies weapon of choice in WWII, but I guess that’s the point.
One of the main features of Gearbox’s demo was what Gearbox call “action sequences,” which is essentially a fancy name for a 4-player co-op breach. As all four men line themselves up against the door, the foursome breach through the doors and let rip in a slow mo bevy of violence. Glancing around the room we see that from each perspective, each player has a different experience, whether that’s Montana wielding the chain gun or the chap behind us setting light to the unfortunate Nazi scum with a flamethrower. That’s not to say these sequences will always be the same, oh no, and in the second sequence we see the foursome perform this action sequence from the comfort of an open top car, disturbing a Nazi posse as they tuck into some fine wines and supper.
It wouldn’t be a WWII video game without a chainsaw, right? Wait… what!? Oh yeah, that’s right, this isn’t just any WWII game, this is a slightly wacky one. Mid demo, as you do, Montana the hulking beast, manages to bust out a chainsaw and slam it through the stomach of a few unfortunate Nazis who managed to get in the way. Fresh with a smiley face reticule and gallons of blood, it’s not a pretty sight for those with a weak stomach.
When I said that Furious 4 was over-the-top, I wasn’t kidding and the end sequence of the demo only went to highlight that, as Montana picks up a chain-gun style rocket launcher of sorts called a Fliegarfaust to take down a huge blimp overhead. Throw in a few heavy gunners wielding chain guns behind huge metal shields who require teamwork to take down and some jetpack Nazi fiends, and you honestly start to forget about the WWII genre and how oversaturated it’s become. It actually feels fresh.
With elements of Borderlands’ co-operative play and a smidgen of Team Fortress 2’s crazy squad based action – co-op, of course – whether Gearbox’s attempt to revisit the once stale era will pay off remains to be seen. The fresh take on the era and balls to the walls shooter action though was surprisingly refreshing, and couple that with some co-op action and hopefully Gearbox’s trademark humour, and Brother in Arms: Furious 4 could certainly be a turn up for the books. It’s like Inglourious Basterds but a hell of a lot more mental… if that’s possible.
Brother in Arms: Furious 4 is scheduled for a 2012 release.