Brothers In Arms: Hour of Heroes (HoH from here on out) is an offshoot of the Brothers In Arms series, which competes with Call of Duty and other franchises for the popular (some might say oversaturated) World War II shooter genre. In HoH, players will go through three campaigns doing the four things you can find in just about every WWII game: killing nazis, taking out anti-aircraft emplacements, clearing/flanking MG42 nests, and obligatory tank levels. Sounds like your standard shooter, right?
For better or worse, wrong. HoH can be tough to control, has numerous flaws with the visuals, collision, and hit detection, and in the end does not translate the full Brothers In Arms experience. The ultimate question is, “was getting the full Brothers In Arms experience onto the iPhone the point?” If that’s what you expect from HoH, you’ll be disappointed. However, if you take it on its own terms, and play by the rules the game sets, it’s a lot easier to enjoy the game.
- Multiple Control Schemes
I am so glad they included more than one way to control this game, because the default frustrated me quite a bit. I ended up settling on the psuedo-dual analog setup, which gives you two “control circles” that function like the analog sticks on a console controller. Actions like firing, performing contextual actions, and throwing grenades are done through on-screen icons.
- Playstation 1-Equivalent Graphics
While it’s no longer the highest honor for handheld games to say they’ve got graphics that rival the PS1, it’s still pretty good for the iPhone. I’ve got to qualify this by saying that even though HoH looks decent, especially for a full 3D game with so much going on, the framerate made it a lot harder on the eyes.
- Fairly Lengthy
There are 13 missions spanning 3 campaigns that take place in fairly diverse – though a little bland – environments. To be honest, it felt kind of like you had your green levels, your brown levels, and your white levels. Each level took between 10 and 20 minutes, making for a couple hours of entertainment. Extra difficulty levels make for extra challenge, if you’re up for it.
Brothers In Arms: Hour of Heroes was the type of game I had anticipated on the iPhone. It represents a joining of a prominent iPhone developer, Gameloft, and a well-known franchise from the bigger consoles, Brothers In Arms. Something like this lends legitimacy to any iPhone game, and I remain excited to see what other possibilities there are for the iPhone.
In regards to the game itself, after I got over my initial expectations of console-handheld sameness, I enjoyed it. It seems like as a pick-up-and-play action offering, this game may be near top-notch. If you take the controls for what they are and work with them as opposed to trying to make them something they’re not, you’ll find there’s a good amount of fun to be had here. I particularly enjoyed the tank levels (I usually do), and while HoH isn’t quite the real thing when compared to a console game, it imitates well enough to make for some good times.
The dual control circles setup was well laid-out and worked great for the most part, but it is a stand-out flaw of the iPhone (from a gaming perspective) that you can’t feel where your thumbs or fingers are. I struggled whenever my thumbs strayed from the control circles. I was going to put this under “The Bad”, but I realized it’s unfair to fault the developers for something they have no control over. Instead, I choose to applaud Gameloft for figuring out a control scheme that works as well as it does.
Technical problems abound with this game. The graphics are pretty bad by today’s standards, I found myself clipping into a decent portion of the objects in the environment, encountered numerous ‘stuck spots’ which forced a reload, and the framerate was anything but smooth. Getting past these problems took a lot of willpower, and definitely made me less excited about what I was doing. I’m not sure whether they didn’t put enough QA on the game or just decided to release even though these problems were there, but this game takes a serious hit in the aesthetics department.
Brothers in Arms is a series that features a great story as one of the main attractions. I was bewildered when I discovered about three levels in that the most story I was going to get was “We’ve got to take this village!” or “Take out that ..88!” Having no story in a BIA game is almost like taking out the shooting – it’s just not the same.
I’m torn here. In many ways, this game was not that great – mainly the graphics, the lack of story, and the function of the controls. In other ways, it’s a very important game – being the first game to (mostly) successfully emulate a big console franchise, and the innovative control design. I think that Brothers in Arms: Hour of Heroes is a very good start with lots of room for improvement. So should you buy it? If you like first or third-person-shooters on consoles, I would say yes. This might satiate your shooter-lust until you can get home to your 360. If you are a more casual iPhone gamer or you feel like you can’t justify blowing $10 on a game unless it’s going to make you breakfast the next morning, maybe take a pass.