Ubisoft thought it would be a good idea to start a whole new World War II franchise right at the height of the genre and when it was hated most. It was a huge gamble because everyone was already playing Medal of Honor, Call of Duty, and Battlefield. What could Ubisoft offer that these guys didn’t? For one, more realism. Brothers in Arms was the first WWII shooter to really portray the violence in the war. Every other shooter was like a shooting gallery. You shoot someone and they just fall dead. That feeling of realism from movies like Saving Private Ryan was never really translated in games, which it should have been. Brothers in Arms took the world by storm by being one of the best WWII franchises ever created, Ubisoft had a great formula here.
Release Date: 3/1/2005 — Xbox
GameRankings: Xbox: 88%
Road to Hill 30 was warmly received as being one of the best WWII shooters since Frontline. The game was more realistic and offered a tactical layer that other shooters didn’t offer. You couldn’t just stand out in the open and shoot everyone, you had to use cover and think about your next move. The game also looked fantastic and pushed consoles to their limits. It also featured gore and violence never seen in Medal of Honor or Call of Duty. Everyone quickly forgot about the previous WWII games that were out and jumped into the addictive multiplayer. A new Call of Duty and Medal of Honor were due out at the end of 2005 so it was a perfect time for Ubisoft to release their virgin WWII shooter.
Release Date: 3/15/2005 — PS2, PC
GameRankings: PC: 87%
Two weeks later Road to Hill 30 was released on PC and PS2. While the game sold the most on PS2 it didn’t perform as well as the others. The PC version was slightly looked down on for awkward controls and the PS2 had really bad graphics and was somehow extremely difficult. The Xbox version remained the superior version.
Release Date: 10/6/2005 — PC, Xbox
GameRankings: Xbox: 85%
It’s strange to release a sequel less than a year later, but Ubisoft did it and somehow it lived up to the original. Ubisoft realized how much everyone like the game on PC and released it along side the Xbox version. The game had another strong campaign, improved visuals, and the same fun multiplayer. The game had many improvements, and everyone wondered how Ubisoft did this much so quickly. While not as ground breaking as Road to Hill 30, it was still a solid shooter and made it out just before the new Medal of Honor and Call of Duty were released. Surprisingly, the game sold more on PS2 than Xbox this time around.
Release Date: 10/26/2005 — PS2
GameRankings: PS2: 74%
Ubisoft didn’t quite learn from their mistake from the last game and released a sub-par game on PS2. It featured worse graphics than the other versions and the AI just sucked. The game was obviously made on PC and was ported to PS2, the console was aging and just couldn’t keep up at the time. PS2 owners quickly forgot about this series because Earned in Blood would be the last BiA on current generation consoles.
Release Date: 12/5/2006 — PSP
GameRankings: PSP: 65%
The other two franchises had an okay outing on PSP so Ubisoft thought to give it a try. It didn’t pan out so well like the other games, and tried to put the same type of game on PSP and it just didn’t work. Ubisoft obviously rushed this because the game was glitchy and the controls didn’t work on PSP. It wasn’t a disaster, but sold poorly and was quickly forgotten. This would be the one and only BiA game on PSP. It did surprisingly well sales wise by selling almost half a million copies.
Release Date: 6/21/2007 — DS
GameRankings: DS: 72%
Ubisoft ditched the PSP and went with its competitor: The Nintendo DS. Ubisoft didn’t learn much from their last mistake and tried bringing a third person shooter to an even weaker system. The graphics were terrible and the controls were worse than the PSP. It lacked a story like the console versions and the game was pretty basic. It was better than D-Day, but not by much. This would be the only BiA game on DS. The game also didn’t go over well for Nintendo. It only sold a measly 40,000 copies.
Release Date: 9/23/2008 — Wii
GameRankings: Wii: 46%
Wow boy, Brothers in Arms went from the king of World War II shooters to the pits in just three years. The series was pretty much on hold until Hell’s Highway was released later in the year. With two mediocre handheld games, Ubisoft tried out the Wii and it was met with being the worst BiA game ever made. Double Time was a port of Road to Hill 30 and they just slapped the game on Wii with no second thought. It was ugly as sin, controlled terribly, and was just no fun. It ruined the excellent original, the game seriously bombed. This would be the only BiA game on Wii.
Release Date: 10/7/2008 — PC, X360, PS3
GameRankings: PC, X360: 77%
Hell’s Highway was the highly anticipated trilogy finale and on next-generation consoles. The game looked amazing and played very well, the story was really interesting, but everyone was done with WWII shooters. EA tried it again in 2008 as well with Airborne, and everyone was just done. It didn’t stand up to the first two games, and BiA was pretty much on its way out. While Hell’s Highway was the last WWII shooter in the franchise, it continued later on iPhone with great success. Hell’s Highway was the most successful BiA game selling almost 2 million copies.
Release Date: 11/23/2008 — iPhone
GameRankings: iPhone: 69%
Ubisoft handed the reigns to its mobile division, Gameloft, while they worked on the reboot. Hour of Heroes was a success on iPhone, but suffered from funky controls and was lacking some polish. It played well and was better than the previous handheld efforts, but still could have been more.
Release Date: 2/22/2010 — iPhone
GameRankings: iPhone: 81%
2010 was really late to release a WWII shooter, but Gameloft did it anyway. The fire of hate for the genre had died down enough and the iPhone was a safe platform. The game was considered the best BiA handheld and featured great graphics, controls, and solid gameplay. It was only conned for poor AI and terrible voice acting. This would be the last game in the series, but at least it went out on a high note.
As you can see, just like the other two shooter franchises, Brothers in Arms started out great and quickly sunk into mediocre abyss. The series has sold almost 5 million copies to date, not hugely successful, but enough to make it one of the top WWII shooters of all time. Handheld experiments didn’t pan out so well for the series either, and it shows that spin-offs and remakes don’t really work if you don’t change things around. Brothers in Arms still remains one of the best WWII franchises and took some serious risks coming out so late in the game. It offered a better story, more mature gameplay, and was just more solid in the end than Call of Duty or Medal of Honor.