Nintendo's DS is the last console you'd expect Gearbox's tactical WWII shooter to land on but pocket developer Gameloft has somehow managed to squeeze most of the goodness from the 'daddy' versions into a scaled-down, pint-sized version.
The first thing that gets you about Brothers on DS is just how incredible it looks and sounds. Okay, it's not the PC or 360 versions but as far as DS games go, this is up there with the best of them. Even our resident fanboy Mike Jackson was bowled over, and he usually goes for colourful, pleasing-on-the-eye visuals.
Played from a third-person perspective instead of first-person, there's plenty going on at any one time. From the large open, outdoor environments that crack with the sound of gunfire and explosions to the blue sky filled with dive-bombing planes; it's a visual feast there to be enjoyed.
You control the game in exactly the same way as Metroid Prime: Hunters by using the stylus to look around, the left shoulder button to fire and the d-pad to move forwards, backwards and strafe left and right. It works like a charm too, the only difference being the third-person view, which means you have to look around your character. The Touch Screen is used to select weapons, reload and lob grenades. A tap of your main machine gun brings up other options such as a sniper rifle or bazooka, if you've picked them up. And you drag and drop the clip of ammo to reload your current weapon. It's all very intuitive and effective to use when you're on the battlefield.
We love throwing grenades though. Using the stylus works perfectly to give you real accuracy rather than randomly lobbing them at your feet or teammates. Once you tap the grenade icon a power bar appears that you immediate have to drag up. The bottom screen then pans out to give you a top-down view of your immediate surroundings. Keep dragging the stylus up the bar for further throws and let go to launch. It's so easy and accurate that you'll be throwing grenades on the top of zie Germans' heads in no time at all. The fire button also works as a melee attack when you're up close to your enemies.
The selling point of the console and PC versions was the way you used two teams and the overhead map to work through the levels and out-flank the enemy. Surprisingly you don't control two teams in the DS version, not even one; you're only responsible for the actions of your character. AI takes on the burden of controlling teammates, which significantly changes the tactical gameplay of what made Brothers In Arms so awesome in the first place. Instead of it being a tactical shooter where you issue commands like 'fire' or 'suppress', you Rambo your way through the levels following objectives dished out by your captain.
Without the tactical element, it doesn't feel like a true BIA experience. The levels are extremely linear and quite short. There are three main chapters (Normandy, Tunis and Ardennes) to gun through and each one is split into between six and eight acts. All in that's a fair amount of gameplay, but without the need to tactically think your way through each battle, the whole single player experience is relatively short-lived.
You can use various walls, boxes and buildings for cover just by walking up to them in a similar way to Gears of War. You can then shoot from behind the cover but don't get fooled into thinking you're out of harms way - you're not. Objectives are, most of the time, straight forward as an icon constantly points you in the right direction. Occasionally though they aren't clearly marked out and a little trial and error (death) is required for specifics that need to be met before you can carry on. Extending its lifespan beyond the single-player game though are five multiplayer maps playable online over Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection for up to four players. Deathmatch or team deathmatch are your two multiplayer modes and there are options for you to set the time and score limits for each game.