Brothers in Arms: Furious 4

Gearbox Channels Tarantino In Brothers In Arms: Furious 4
by Matt Bertz on Jun 09, 2011 at 01:20 PM
Platform PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Publisher Ubisoft
Developer Gearbox Software
Rating Mature

Mix Bulletstorm, Borderlands, and Inglourious Basterds, and you have a good idea of what to expect from Furious 4.

The Brothers in Arms series isn't known for braggadocio, humor, or arcade action, but Gearbox Software doesn't give a ***. When Ubisoft asked the dev team to inject new life into the series, they unflinchingly abandoned the somber tale of 101st Airborne soldier Matt Baker and strategic approach to combat in favor of an absurdist shooter that embraces the XP-grind addictiveness of Borderlands and the playful attitude of a Tarantino flick.

Like Inglourious Basterds, the story is simple: Adolf Hitler needs to be stopped, and the Furious 4 are the soldiers tasked with the ass kicking duties.

The demo joins the hulking lumberjack-turned-Nazi hunter Montana and his buddies Stitch, Crockett, and Chok in the middle of the split screen/online four-player co-op campaign. The ragtag group is headed to a German town where the Nazis are celebrating Oktoberfest, and rumors are the Fuhrer may be in attendance. When they stumble across a bar full of soldiers at the edge of town, they plan a sophisticated ambush that involves bursting through the door and emptying their clips into anything that moves. Like Bulletstorm, alerts flash across the top left of the screen when players rack up double kills or other small feats, and  XP notifications appear above your enemies' heads when you take them out.

When you come across shortwave radios in the evironment, you can access a deep upgrade screen to spend XP on new weapons, perks, and makeshift gadgets like a bear trap armed with a grenade. If the bear trap and other weapons I saw in the demo are any indication, Furious 4 will feature a more playful arsenal than your standard shooter. The band of brothers brandished several entertaining weapons in the proceeding bloodbath, including a Gatling gun, flame thrower, a hatchet projectile, and even a chainsaw for those who like their combat up close and personal.

The battle eventually spills out into the Bavarian streets amidst carnival tents, merry-go-rounds, and Ferris wheels. The shootout here showcased the destructible cover, which may be the only carryover between previous Brothers in Arms games and Furious 4. The rest of the mission involved crashing through another beer hall in a Nazi vehicle, a slow motion shooting segment directly after the breach, and a showdown with jetpack wearing SS soldiers.

I'll admit when I saw the trailer for Furious 4 I winced and groaned at the derivative premise, but after seeing the game in action I'm on board with the lighthearted shooter. The combat looks satisfying, being able to play through the campaign with three other friends is a major draw, and Borderlands proved that Gearbox knows how to keep people coming back with a generous leveling system. If the 10-player multiplayer brings some new ideas to the table as well, this could be one of the surprise hits in 2012.

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Brothers in Arms: Furious 4cover

Brothers in Arms: Furious 4

PlayStation 3, Xbox 360