Brothers in Arms: Furious 4 is one of those games that has us wondering: why call your game a continuation of an established series when it has less in common with that series' previous entries than any number of other games? Or, in the case of Furious 4, Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds?
The affinity with that film runs deeper than just the comic, theatrically violent announcement trailer. Movie-style presentation and brash, deeply unserious Nazi busting are front and centre all through the demo. By the end, our four disparate Allied heroes are mowing down the Fuhrer's minions with chainsaws, dismembering them with improvised explosive bear traps, and gunning them out of the sky--the ones with rocketeer-like Nazi jetpacks, that is.
A sensitive, historically reverent World War II military sim this game is not. Instead, it's a first-person shooter with optional four-player co-op and endless winks and nudges to an audience which, the game presumes, is tired of straight-faced WWII games. In the demo, the titular Furious 4 are assaulting a German town by night. The four are as notorious in their World War II as the Basterds are in theirs, we're informed by a Wanted ("Gesucht," rather) poster featuring the four heroes' faces.
The town, explains a movie-style narrator, is hosting Nazi revelries: as the four playable characters enter the Bavarian-looking burg, we see fireworks burst over the rooftops, sharing the night sky with a towering Ferris wheel and a zeppelin floating above a distant hill. Here and elsewhere the visuals are high contrast and richly coloured, angling for stylish rather than ultrarealistic--and it works, for the most part, with warmly lit, Nazi-packed taverns and a glittering old-school funfair among the environmental highlights.
We watch as the hulking Montana tears through German baddies with his heavy machine gun, occasionally mixing it up with a hurled one-hit-kill hatchet, while one of his buddies sets about the enemy with a flamethrower. Later in the demo, Montana acquires a chainsaw--the melee reticle is a little smiley face--and adds a grenade to a bear trap to produce an explosive bear trap for use in holding off the enemy during a siege section. In scripted, slow-motion "action moments," of which we see a couple, the four cohorts are brought together to do a breach and clear, for instance, or to commandeer an armoured vehicle and crash it into a Nazi tavern shindig.
Though it may not feel much like the Brothers in Arms series with which players are familiar, those who weren't hoping for more of the same from the series may get a kick out of Furious 4's irreverent bravado. Fans of the earlier games might well be left cold--but there are worse things to be than Inglorious Basterds: The Video Game.