Nobody said bringing a big action franchise like Brothers In Arms to the iPhone would be easy. It’s hard enough to play these modern shooters with thumbstick controllers, so shrinking everything down and removing the buttons isn’t exactly a recipe for success. Brothers In Arms Hour of Heroes is far from the most playable game on the App Store, but it does a lot better in the gameplay department than you might expect. When all was said and done, we ended up liking it.
Brothers In Arms Hour of Heroes spans three major WWII campaigns’”the Normandy invasion, the fighting around Tunis in North Africa, and the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes forest’”that are split into five or six missions each. You control an American infantry soldier from an over-the-shoulder third-person viewpoint, dashing from one firefight to another with a squad of fellow grunts.
Each mission is broken up into many bite-sized objectives, such as taking out Nazi bunkers, sabotaging artillery pieces, and ridding tall buildings of snipers. The action is extremely linear, to the point that it’s practically on rails. You have to follow the objective markers to move from points A to B to C, or you’ll just fail the mission without explanation.
On the other hand, gameplay is fast-paced and tightly scripted, so it doesn’t feel like a loss’”you’re kept very busy fighting your way out of ambushes, flanking through alleyways, and the like. The game does a good job mixing things up by forcing you to switch between the three main weapons and dive for cover. Occasionally, it also puts you at the controls of a tank, which can be a lot of fun.
At its best, Brothers In Arms can have a real cinematic quality, when the insane onscreen action coordinates perfectly with planes buzzing overhead, Nazis yelling in German, ordinance detonating all around, and your sarge shouting orders in your ear. The graphics are pretty strong; the models may be blocky, but the frame rate holds up well under extreme duress, and that’s what really counts.
Unfortunately, the game isn’t always at its best. Sometimes confusion reigns, and it becomes difficult to tell what you’re supposed to do. You may die repeatedly without knowing why, until you finally blunder through by accident. Also, the controls are clumsy. Knowing this, Gameloft gives you three possible control setups… but none of them are great. The game compensates somewhat with auto-aiming, and practice helps, but it never feels completely natural. It doesn’t kill the game, but it can definitely be frustrating, especially when trying to turn around quickly. And throwing grenades is rendered impossible by completely worthless’”and unnecessary’”tilt controls.
Overall, though, Brothers In Arms Hour of Heroes is an ambitious game that gets a lot more right than it does wrong. It’s good for three to five hours of high octane fighting, interspersed with some truly spectacular moments. It’s a pricey buy at $9.99, but it delivers the goods in a way that is next to impossible to find on the App Store.