Genre: First-Person Shooter
Developer: Gearbox Software
Release Date: September 23, 2008
The Brothers in Arms series has always stood out from other World War II games for several different reasons. One of those reasons was maturity; whereas other games tried to play it safe and keep themselves within the "T" rating, Brothers in Arms went all-out with gore and language that would be found in your typical R-rated WWII movie. Tactics were another element in the series that made it different. Like Ghost Recon and Full Spectrum Warrior, you could command your squad on the fly to take up strategic positions and execute maneuvers in order to take out the crafty AI of the German soldiers. Put all of this together with great graphics, excellent gameplay and a gripping story, and you have yourself a classic in the already-crowded WWII FPS genre.
With the release of Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC, Ubisoft and Deimurge Software saw fit to give Wii owners their own version with Brothers in Arms: Double Time, since the prior titles never appeared on the GameCube before. Unfortunately, while Hell's Highway is great, a slew of problems prevent Double Time from even being average.
It should be noted that Brothers in Arms: Double Time is not a new game at all. Though no mention is made anywhere on the package of this fact, you are getting two games in one package: Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 and Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood. These two games were released years ago for the PS2, Xbox and PC, and the only way you would realize this is when you crack open the box and see the two discs labeled differently.
Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 tells the story of Sgt. Matt Baker as he leads a squad of 13 other paratroopers into German territory the night before D-Day, 1944. Throughout the seven days during which the game takes place, you'll go through all of the events the squad went through on their way to Hill 30. Unlike other WWII games (or movies, for that matter), all of the events you go through in the title really happened, making this one of the more gripping stories presented in a game.
Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood isn't so much a sequel as it is a re-telling of the same events of the previous game but from a different perspective. As Sgt. Joe "Red" Hartsock, you go through the same night, ultimately meeting up with Baker at certain points in the game. Though the characters are different at times, that makes the story no less gripping. Like the first game, the events are all true, giving you insight into some of the trials and horrors that the squad had to go through before being rescued. The main difference with this game is that the events are all told in flashback form, making some situations unique in delivery. For example, the game will slow down and go through a black-and-white filter, complete with narration, before a big ambush sequence or after a big fight. It's a good technique that really helps the narrative move along.
The gameplay isn't exactly one of the strong suits for Double Time. While the titles themselves are long experiences separately, the result is mind-numbing, thanks to the bad AI on both sides. Your fellow soldiers have decent AI in Road to Hill 30 but really poor AI on Earned in Blood; this makes issuing commands to them tougher, since they'll have a fair idea of what to do in the first game but will often get killed doing the same thing in the other title. That may be the reason the game defaults to the easiest setting whenever you create a new profile. Enemies also show signs of bad AI: Some will hide behind cover like they're supposed to, while others will do nothing as you come up to them and unload a few shots.
While all of this may sound good if you like easy games, the controls won't help make the experience any more fun. As expected, movement is done with the Nunchuk while aiming is done with the Wiimote. Aiming is fine if you wanted to shoot something immediately on your screen, but it becomes problematic when you want to turn your head, since you have to move the aiming cursor to the very edge of the screen in order to turn in that direction. This makes the experience slow and gets you killed often, if you're not careful. Throwing grenades is also cumbersome, since you have to aim where you want to throw, hit the minus button to confirm your spot, and then make the throwing motion with the Wiimote to throw it. Unless you want to do so before a firefight takes place, you'll be better served just using your gun. Finally, melee attacks are done by shaking the Wiimote, which makes the most sense, but the execution is poor since the game fails to register the shake most of the time. When your Nunchuk, typically the least responsive of the two controllers, gets picked up more often than the Wiimote, you know things are bad.
Unfortunately, neither game has any sort of multiplayer at all, whether it be split-screen or online via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Considering that a similar title, Medal of Honor Heroes 2, not only made the jump online but did so with large crowds of people, makes the lack of any multiplayer mode, which was available with the original versions of this game, hurt even more.
The graphics are below average at best. Both games here are ports of the PS2 version, which were also ports of the Xbox version. With that in mind, Double Time doesn't look any better than the PS2 version. Character models are decent but still display the same jaggies as before, and the same goes for the environments. There is no area that looks or acts better than the PS2 counterpart, which is sad to see since this is not only an older game but a game running on a machine that is capable of more power than the PS2. It also doesn't help to see that the game runs on 480i. As decent as it looks on standard definition TVs, it looks worse when you try and play this on an HDTV. Subtitles, turned on by default, are something you would want off, since the text boxes end up taking so much of the screen that they hide parts of important gameplay.
The biggest offender in this category, however, is frame rate. There is barely a moment when the game pushes itself past 30 frames. More often than not, you'll see the game run between 15 to 20 frames for both gameplay and cut scenes. Worse yet, the game will pause often. No matter what's happening, you'll suddenly see the game pause for a second before continuing. Considering that this happens far too often to be considered a pause to load or save something, it breaks the flow of combat enough to take you out of the experience, which no game should ever try to do.
The sound is one of the few things that Double Time has going right for it. As expected, sound effects, such as gunshots and explosions, sound right. The music sounds like it was ripped straight out of a WWII movie, which is not really a knock against the game, since it means that the musical score etches the right amount of drama when needed and pumps you up for action when the time is appropriate. The same can be said for the voice work; you can expect the typical WWII soldier stereotypes: the straightforward hero, the Southern soldier, the guy who didn't want to fight in the first place and, of course, the hordes of Nazis gunning for you. The work here is good enough to not distract you from the rest of the game or make you cringe.
Brothers in Arms: Double Time for the Wii is a very difficult title to recommend. On one hand, the core game itself is good, and the story presented here is something you don't expect in a game. On the other hand, the technical execution of the title is so poor that one is surprised that it can run at all. FPS games can run rather well on the Wii, but this game doesn't make a convincing case for that argument. Pick up Medal of Honor Heroes 2 or give the upcoming Call of Duty: World at War a shot if you want a WWII experience on the Wii. If you really want to play any of the older title from this series, either hunt down an original Xbox version or play them on the PC and don't waste your time on this shoddy port for the Wii.