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Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 and Earned in Blood – almost worth playing.

Road to Hill 30 surprised me. All I knew going in was that there would be a squad tactics element and what the setting is – no reviews, no gameplay videos.

What I did not expect was good sounding, decent feeling guns. They're pretty inaccurate, but the time to kill is low, there's ADS (in a 2005 game) and they're at least believable in context (where Battlefield 1 dissapoints, for example).

The tactical element can be fun too. Tell your teammates to pin down an enemy and flank the enemy. Later on you get a tank that can wreck house by itself, but you have to get rid of any tanks and anti-tank weapons on the enemy side first to use it.

It's limted (teammates only vaguely follow your orders and don't do it quickly enough for anything but these most basic tactics to be useful) and a bit clunky since there's no working top-down/tactical view where you could actually look around and give orders, but it kinda works.

The games is also pretty good visually at and the visuals aren't cluttered – you always know what you're looking at and it normally looks good or at least okay.

There are two issues that really bring the game down though:

#1 Level design. Considering that the player has exactly 2 ways of dealing with threats – pin&flank or send the tank – you'd think making levels to fit the gameplay would be very easy, but they completely fucked it up.

  • Levels are way too big for the movement speed of the characters and there's tons of unskippable narration and in-game cutscenes, so replaying/retrying anything is a pain.
  • Enemies spawn in unfair places at unfair times, which results in having to retry the section because of how easily you and your teammates die.
  • The game often puts you in a situation where all of your avaliable options are bad and you're completely reliant on luck. There's even a section where you don't have any teammates and you're supposed to get through two tanks that instantly kill you, with no cover for you to use to get through – you just have to hope that they bug out.
  • There's often just not enough cover for what the gameplay requires to work properly.
  • Rocket launchers required to deal with most tanks are put in annoying places.
  • There's usually only one good way to play each level. It's not spunkgargleweewee levels of linear, but it's still too restrictive.
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#2 Enemy design.

  • Enemies are way too accurate and react too quickly.
  • Soldiers shoot with their foreheads instead of their guns, so they can stay compeltely safe behind cover while unloading on you (your weapons aren't accurate enough to take out someone whose sole head is popping out).
  • Tanks can kill your teammates even if they're in cover and your tank has no advantage over the enemy ones even though you get one against very many in each chapter.
  • Tanks require way too many rockets to destroy
  • You and your teammatese generally take too much unavoidable damage in a game without ANY healing system.

These shortcomings make the difficulty levels in the game pretty much useless – there's basically no difference between the easy, normal and hard difficulty because ultimately you're relying on luck and very basic tactics to get through the game.

Overall, Road to Hill 30 is mostly mediocre and it gets pretty bad near the end due to the level design (the solo mission is the last one in the game iirc). It's not great and a little boring at times, but it's better than no game at all and it's higher up on my list than many modern AAA titles.

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Earned in Blood is in most ways the exact same as RtH30, with the main differences being at least one nice gun being added and the level design having a broader spectrum of quality – it's better in the first half, it's one of the worst things I've played near the end. I legitimately, whole-heartedly believe that NOBODY in the entire studio has played the level "All-Americans Part 1" from start to finish during development.

For context, I've beaten Doom 2016 on Nightmare difficulty without getting stuck for too long anywhere, I beat Alien Rage Unlimited on the hardest (or second hardest?) difficulty, I haven't played a shooter on normal or lower difficulty for many years now, but I couldn't even finish this game on easy. I'm not awful at shooters and I don't give up easily, it's just that much of a broken pile of dogshit.

The way I've seen the level finished is getting extremely lucky with the AI of a tank, using an endless supply of rocket launchers, and insane amounts of trial, error and backtracking to kill enemies that can't even really be seen at that point. It's complete luck combined with complete cheese and the level is legitimately insulting.

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