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Brothers in Arms comes over all Quentin Tarantino in its latest instalment from Gearbox Software...
Before Randy Pitchford presented the latest title in the Brothers in Arms series, the spokesman began to explain what approach Gearbox had taken, first describing the prestige of the franchise and then insisting that this title would be less about classic 'man in the trenches' style WWII gaming, and more about the comradeship between the soldier and his fellow combatants. It was to be a brave and entirely new take on the Second World War. Many were led into believing this may have been a bold new step into the emotional impact of war, or perhaps even the controversial notion that the player would be in control of axis powers, for the first time humanising the enemy in a video game.
Alas, this could not have been further from the truth. Furious 4 unashamedly borrows from Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, and follows the exploits of four wildly hyperbolic Americans as they travel across Europe to kill Hitler. To even suggest this is based on the horrors of the real 1940s conflict is an insult to history, though the game acknowledges this and takes a great deal of artistic licence as it shows the Nazi war machine in action.
The colourful world in which Furious 4 is set is both vibrant and comical, with the Team Fortress-like visuals depicting dramatic swastika-adorned blimps, castles and taverns. The action is similarly styled, with a characterised environmental HUD and slow-motion breaks in the otherwise frantic fire-fights, as the team smash their way through pub doors to lay waste to the bewildered Germans within.
There are special weapons for each character, for example the bear traps available to Montana, a hefty lump that hauls around a mini-gun with him as he ploughs through each level. These abilities are also customisable, meaning Montana can add a grenade to his bear trap in order to make the device even more deadly than before.
Furious 4 embraces its over-the-top stylings, and gore is cranked up to the max, taking it from ghastly realism to comedic hyper-violence. Chainsaws tear through dim-witted SS officials, flinging limbs and heads about with bloody abandon. Make no mistake, this is an arcade game. Akin to war FPS games of a bygone era, super soldiers with stupidly huge health bars await at the end of each level and bosses can be found in the form of vehicles such as helicopters.
The central dynamic to Furious 4 is the four-way co-op play made popular by games like Left 4 Dead. Even when playing alone, the player is joined by three AI-controlled companions, though the game is ideally designed to play with others online. Gearbox have also told us that the final version will include split-screen play, though whether four-way split-screen or online split-screen modes will be available in the final release is still yet to be determined.
So in a new twist for the formerly serious Brothers in Arms series, Furious 4 sets out on a journey through Europe untrodden by any other game before it. Expect an Inglourious Basterds-inspired silly story, hyper-violence and other exaggerated nonsense in this four -way co-operative romp through a unique mix between Left 4 Dead and Wolfenstein.
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