Gearbox Software has joined the growing ranks of FPS developers trying to give us a handle on the soldiers behind the guns of World War II, announcing the 'revolutionary' Brothers In Arms military franchise this week. Ubisoft will be publishing the "first game in the series" on PC and consoles this winter.
Although details are few and far between, we're assured by Ubisoft that Brothers In Arms will shake up the genre by delivering historically accurate war stories with an unprecedented degree of realism, and little or no sugarcoating.
The narrative of the first game is based on a true story, and focuses on Sgt. Matt Baker, a D-Day paratrooper squad leader who has to guide a squad through war-torn Normandy. To help him do this, players will be able to draw on a "breakthrough squad-based combat mechanism" as they fight their way through a Normandy constructed from eyewitness accounts, authentic aerial reconnaissance images and US Army Signal Corps photos. [Couldn't they just go and look? -Ed]
Although we're expecting full details of the game at E3, we do have some gritty screenshots to get to grips with in the meantime, demonstrating a healthy level of character detail, some luscious environments, and some very nice and atmospheric lighting.
Of course the final game will have to offer a lot more than good looks. Apart from a concerted fling with Vietnam and the odd one-night stand in Mogadishu, FPS developers have generally been very faithful to the World War II setting in recent years. As a result, not only is Brothers In Arms up against established brands this winter in the shape of a new Medal Of Honour title and Call Of Duty: United Offensive, but it also faces cynicism from FPS fans hungry for something less obvious. In other words, it's a tough time to be launching an ambitious World War II shooter franchise. Still, war is meant to be hell, and we'd be fools to underestimate Ubisoft given the quality of the French publisher's output lately.