Brothers in Arms (series)

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Brothers in Arms is a series of First-Person Shooters set in World War II, focusing on using squad-tactics and strategy as opposed to more common run-and-gun gameplay style for the genre. The main series includes Road to Hill 30, Earned in Blood, and Hell's Highway. It has spinoffs titled D-Day, DS, Art of War, N-Gage, Double Time and Hour of Heroes.

The first title in the series, Road to Hill 30, puts you in control of Sergeant Matt Baker a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne of the US Army during the Normandy invasion. The game depicts the midnight jump before D-Day, the fighting on the way to the French city of Carentan, its capture from the Germans and the subsequent defense from the German counter-attack at Hill 30. Baker can tell his men where to take cover and who to fire at. The game uses a suppression mechanic that requires the player to use Baker's squad to suppress and flank the enemy.

Earned In Blood puts you in control of "Red" Hartsock, a Corporal in Baker's squad. It shows some of the events in the first game from Red's perspective, leading to his promotion to Sergeant after the Battle of Bloody Gulch. After Red's promotion, his squad clears out the remnant of the German forces from Carentan and moves towards Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte to give the 82nd Airborne some maps of the German defenses surrounding the area and decides to stay and help take the castle.

The third game Hell's Highway puts the player back in control of Sergeant Matt Baker during Operation Market Garden. The events depicted include the failure of the 101st to take the bridge at Son before the Germans could blow it up, the liberation of Eindhoven, and the evacuation after the failure of the Operation Market Garden. This game is notable in that it's one of the few to depict a soldier with PTSD.

The ending of the third game hinted at a sequel taking place during The Battle of the Bulge. However, poorer than predicted sales and a surprise hit for developer Gearbox with Borderlands have likely put the title at lower priority for development. Gearbox has announced a sequel/spin-off Brothers In Arms: Furious 4. The game is a radical departure from the realistic and somber tone of the series and could best be described as Inglourious Basterds meets Borderlands. At PAX 2011 Randy Pitchford, President of Gearbox, confirmed that a continuation of Baker's story is in the works. No further details were made available.

Tropes used in Brothers in Arms (series) include:
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Used to great effect in Hell's Highway when Baker tells Red he is paralyzed from the waist down and will never walk again.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Die enough times at the same checkpoint, and you'll get the option to heal and replenish your ammunition before your next attempt. This is the only healing available during missions in the first two games.
  • Anyone Can Die: 7 of 13 men in Baker's squad don't survive the first eight days of the Normandy invasion.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Baker returning to the squad at the end of Road to Hill 30, having just found a pair of tanks to steamroll the previously overwhelming attackers.
  • Break Meter: Shoot at or near an enemy repeatedly, and they'll be Pinned Down and won't be able to attack as effectively.
  • Child Soldiers: Baker's squad suspects that Frankie lied about his age to join the Army.
  • Concept Art Gallery: The Road to Hill 30 has a rather thick one, which also includes reproductions of historical documents related to war.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: Baker way too much.
    • Baker's tendency to navel gaze is lampshaded by several squad members in Earned in Blood, while under fire. Paraphrased here:

"Back in England, we'd be playing baseball or something, not Baker! He'd always be off staring at the sky or some shit!"

  • Continuity Lock Out and Late Arrival Spoilers: So much of the third game references important events like the deaths of certain characters. Without playing the first two you don't know the exact circumstances surrounding those deaths so it gets rather confusing.
  • Dead Person Conversation: Baker converses with a hallucination/ghost of Leggett. It may be a ghost because Leggett hints at the location of the next battle. Something a hallucination couldn't do.
  • Fackler Scale of FPS Realism: This series falls toward the realism end of the scale with authentic weaponry and squad tactics. Levels are based off of actual locations in Normandy and Holland and after action reports from battles.
  • A Father to His Men: Sgt Mac Hassay
  • Fingore: Red gets part of a finger blow off in Baupte.He keeps fighting anyway.
    • Red: The only married man in the entire squad get´s his ringfinger blown off.
  • Gallows Humor:

Garnett: What do you think killed him?
Allen: I don't know but it wasn't old age?

  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Dawson doesn't wear a helmet since it interferes with his aim, apparently. Averted by everybody else, given the setting, unless they get shot off in combat without somehow also killing them.
    • In Road to Hill 30, Red throws his helmet in the river after Desola is killed. In Earned in Blood, he mentions to Colonel Marshall he swam back into the river and recovered it, because he felt it his responsibility to his wife and young child to try and stay alive.
    • In the third game at least, Baker starts most missions with his helmet on. It CAN be shot off, the remainder of the mission is then fought without the helmet.
  • Heroic BSOD: Private First Class Kevin Leggett. Having gotten two of the most popular squad members killed earlier in the game, he becomes notably traumatized. At the end, frustratedly getting no response on the radio for support in an overwhelming situation, he pulls out a pistol, jumps on top of their cover, and shoots at the enemy tanks screaming for them to shoot him.
  • Historical Domain Character: Lt Col. Cole in all three games, Lt Col. Cassidy in Earned in Blood and Lt. Col Sink in Hell's Highway. The well-known WW 2 historian Col. S.L.A Marshall interviews Red about the events in Earned in Blood. Dwight D. Eisenhower, WW 2 hero and future president, appears in a (deleted) cutscene.
  • How We Got Here:
    • In the Road to Hill 30, the first level starts at the battle at the eponymous Hill 30 and we witness the death of Leggett whom we haven't got to know yet. After the player character is knocked out by a tank, the story flashes back to the jump over Normandy.
    • Earned in Blood opens with Red telling his story thus far to an army recorder. As they mention certain conflicts, the camera fades into that situation as the gameplay begins.
    • The third game, Hell's Highway, starts at about the midpoint story wise and flashes back to the glider landings at the beginning of Operation Market Garden.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Curse Cut Short "Garnett: Guys, get the fu-"
  • Mind Screw: Baker starts seeing hallucinations in Hell's Highway. They're rare, but just often enough to make the player doubt what they may be seeing in solo sections.
  • Mission Pack Sequel: Earned In Blood. Pretty much the same game play as the first game but played from Red's perspective with new levels. Fans of the original enjoyed the difficulty spike however.
  • Mood Whiplash: Surprisingly common.

Friar: Paddock, you are not shooting the jeep!

    • In the first game Leggett, Allen and Garnett are discussing which super hero is cooler Batman or Superman when mortars start going off around you.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: In the level Objective XYZ, you're tasked with clearing a small french village of German troops with one soldier as back up. This based off an actual event.
  • Regenerating Health: Third game only, accomplished by representing health as luck--if too many shots are fired at you in quick succession, one will eventually hit you for an instant kill.
  • Shown Their Work: Gearbox hired a US Army LT. Col. and military historian to teach them real world tactics and to help write the story with authenticity. They also fired every weapon that is in the game to accurately model them. Gearbox also took a massive road trip to France to photograph the locations of battles. Using these photos as well as old maps and photos from the war they designed the levels.
    • Also applies on a literal level: content unlocked by winning missions on various difficulties includes the aforementioned photos of the real locations the mission maps are based on, information about the equipment used by soldiers on both sides of the war, and biographical data on the 82nd and 101st airborne divisions.
  • Sniping Mission: Several games in the series.
  • Story to Gameplay Ratio: Closer to the story end on the scale than most other WWII shooters.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: Averted, thanks to the aforementioned Break Meter.
  • There Are No Therapists: A Justified Trope in Hell's Highway - you're a paratrooper who's deep in enemy territory. Plus, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder was not understood in modern-contexts until after the Vietnam War. And you're in World War II.
  • Those Two Guys: Allen and Garnett. Lampshaded in a Road to Hill 30 cutscene:

Baker: Eventually we started saying Allen'n'Garnett like it was one name.

    • They even die together.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Allen and Garnett from Road to Hill 30. They're always seen together, but bicker with each other quite a bit.
  • War Is Hell: One of the few war games to actually depict PTSD, and in a distressing way.
  • You All Look Familiar: Let's face it, it's not exactly easy to tell a lot of these characters apart at a glance, due to the identical uniforms. Their faces aren't identical, but first-timers may still be grasping to try to remember who's who.