Brothers in Arms: Furious 4 Preview E3 2011By Jake Gaskill - Posted Jun 09, 2011
Brothers in Arms Furious 4 Preview:
Don't worry. Gearbox Software isn’t done with Sargent Matthew Baker of the 101st Airborne Division and his fellow Brothers in Arms that gamers have come to know from the developer’s acclaimed World War II shooter. Rest assured, there are plenty more stories to be told around Baker and his band of brothers. But Brothers in Arms: Furious 4 is not one of those stories. Think of it more as an alternative take on the BIA universe.
"Our partners at Ubisoft actually challenged us to try and innovate within, not just the World War II space, but the war space in general," said Gearbox creative director Mickey Neumann in our E3 demo session. "So that’s what we’re doing here. We’re reaching out, and trying to innovate in a new direction. Furious 4 is a different kind of war game. It’s about the stories between soldiers, the legends, the tall tales."
When you saw the Furious 4 announcement trailer, the first thought in your head was undoubtedly, "Oh. Inglourious Basterds the game!" And, well, you’re not far off. It tells the story of a group of soldiers who decide they’re going to kill Adolf Hitler. Whether they’ll be scalping Nazis and generally terrorizing the Third Reich as a form of psychological warfare remains to be seen, but they are a band of larger than life characters determined to tear their way through the Mother Land on their way to the big H, so the knee-jerk comparisons aren’t entirely unfounded. It probably doesn’t help either that the level we watched took place during a Nazi celebration that the Furious 4 believe Hitler is attending (It’s not the premier of Nation’s Pride, but you get the idea).
As the narrator points out at the start of our gameplay demo, "Opportunities like this don’t present themselves often, so the plan was simple: infiltrate the town, find Hitler, and kill that son of a bitch." And with that, our squad begins their assault by zip lining to some nearby docks. High in the distance, a towering mountain is crowned by lights surrounding a massive zeppelin. The entire scene, from the character designs to the waterfront property, pops off the screen thanks to the game’s eye-catching mix of realistic and cartoony art styles.
Furious 4 is, you guessed it, based around four-player co-op. You can play online or local split screen with three pals or play single-player with three bots, or any combination you wish. In typical class-based shooters, each character has a specialty. Crockett, a good ol’ American boy who carries a Texas-shaped cattle iron (which he uses to brand Nazi foreheads, not unlike the bowie knife wielding West Virginian Aldo Raine), Stitch, a foul-mouthed Brit with a penchant for electrified weaponry, Chok, a hatchet-tossing Native American, and the hulking, chaingun-carrying Montana.
As the group starts their assault on the docks, we were able to see each of their unique ranged weapons in action. Sticking enemies with knives, hatchets, and cattle brands A rather humorous/practical application of these ranged attacks is that you'll encounter wanted posters throughout the game and if each character "signs" it with their specialty weapons, you'll earn experience points, so achievement hunters be on the look out.
We didn't see much of it, but there is an upgrade system in the game that will let you bring all manner of crazy to your arsenal. One such upgrade adds grenades to Montana's bear traps. And, yes, watching a Nazi get his leg chomped by a steel trap and then struggle fruitlessly just moments before being disintegrated looks as spectacular as it sounds. The menu for upgrades was filled with tiles, so expect plenty of depth there.
Continuing on, the group tears their way through a stunningly realized German town, complete with a massive Octoberfest celebration site at its center, complete with a towering Ferris wheel, carousel, and plenty of strung up lights for flavor. At one point, the group encounters a small bar filled with enemies. Each player sets up at various entry points, triggering a breach and clear scenario with personal goals attached to it. When initiated, a prompt appears on screen to "Kill three enemies" and then you earn experience points based on how successful you are. The player I was watching used his flamethrower to torch a dozen Nazi fools. Showoff.
The gang soon finds themselves in front of a large beer hall. Inside, we hear a celebration in progress, and decide this party needs violent crashing. Wanting to make a grand entrance, the foursome hop in a nearby vehicle, and bust through the front doors. As they drive through the hall, the scene plays out in slow motion, turning an already wild scene into an even wilder one. Back outside, the group encounters something that any WWII historian should be familiar with: jetpack-wearing Nazis with rocket launchers. I can't really tell you much more about these enemies, other than they look great when their jet packs are shot and they go spinning out of control and explode in midair.
This sequence also gave us the perfect chance to see just how over-the-top violent Furious 4 is aiming to be, thanks to the gang whipping out chainsaws and proceeding to saw Nazi's into little bits. While there is a cartoony tone to the game, seeing fairly realistic portrayals of chainsaws cutting people in half is a bit disturbing. But then you realize they're Nazis, and you don't feel quite as bad.
For the final showdown, the group faces off against a mini-boss of sorts in the form of a heavily armored dude with a chaingun protruding from a thick shield. Using standard aggro tactics, the guy didn't stand a chance, although he did put up a hell of a fight. Just then, an attack helicopter showed up on the scene, prompting a new objective message to pop up that read "Wreck this thing." And that's exactly what the gang proceeds to do. Although, it gets a bit messy when the chopper spins out of control and crashes into the gigantic Ferris wheel nearby, causing a magnificent collapse, and bringing out demo to a close.
Considering we only found out about Brothers in Arms: Furious 4 this week, it's a bit bizarre to have seen it in action and in such a polished form. I was taken aback a bit when it was announced, being a big fan of the BIA series, but after seeing it, I'm excited to see more. I mean, grenade-mounted bear traps? Greatest generation indeed.