The Brothers in Arms video game series has, so far, prided itself on realistic graphics and tactical first-person shooter gameplay inspired by the literature and films of the same name. With this in mind, let’s watch the debut trailer of Brothers in Arms 4, courtesy of Machinima.com:
Well, that was…different.
It would seem that Brothers in Arms “Furious 4” is taking a few pages (if not the whole book) from the Quentin Tarantino film, Inglourious Basterds with regard to the plot one would derive from this trailer. Of course there’s nothing wrong with that, for a new franchise or even a video game version of Inglourious Basterds, however, even my rather insubstantial knowledge of the Brothers in Arms series has me baffled at this complete overhaul of the series’ main themes, ie gritty realistic graphics and a serious take on the Second World War. There is also nothing wrong with rebooting a dying franchise, but there doesn’t seem to be anything in this trailer even vaguely resembling the previous titles in the series. Frankly, if someone were to watch this trailer without seeing the title they would have no hope of guessing that this is a Brothers in Arms game. Oddly, the game is still being made by the same developers and still published by the same publishers, Gearbox Software and Ubisoft respectively, as all previous titles in the series. Dramatically shifting the tone and atmosphere from serious and gritty to funny and downright bonkers, and gameplay too at an educated guess, will no doubt alienate fans of the series but, in my opinion, will not be able to make up for this loss in newcomers to the series. Anyone who has not played any of the other Brothers in Arms titles will not be drawn to this instalment either since it carries the same name, much in the same way that I would not be interested in a new Twilight movie, no matter how “good” it is in the eyes of critics.
One point made by a youtube user commenting on the trailer above was that the swastikas are in fact crosses, and not the Nazi-used swastika. This could mean one of two things, both very clever on the part of Ubisoft. Before explaining these however, it is important to note that in Germany it is illegal for any media to publically show the swastika, adding a lot of time, and therefore money, to the localisation process of any depiction of Nazi Germany. Either Ubisoft has decided to change to the cross only in the trailer to allow it to reach Germany without extra costs on localising it, or they have made this change throughout the entire game in order to negate the cost of the extra localisation the entire game would need in order to be published in Germany. It is a very subtle change that wouldn’t affect the game in a very noticeable way for non-Germans and is legal for German laws while Ubisoft have to pay less to get their product shipped, everybody wins. I suspect that the swastika will not be used in the full release since any resemblance to realism and authenticity flew straight out the window as soon as that gentleman with the mohawk threw an axe into that Nazi fellow’s skull.
Personally, I don’t have high hopes for this game. I think it is too different to the rest of the series to even have the Brothers in Arms title attached to it and will alienate fans of the series thus far, crippling their already tenuous fan base. If this game was a brand new franchise or even standalone game, it could have stood a chance, as it is, it will quite possibly be the sad end of Brothers in Arms as a franchise.