A quickfire sequel to Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30, Earned in Blood has been developed with feedback from the playing community in mind - hence the improved AI (evident both in the enemy and your own squadmates), enhanced multiplayer modes and the increase in urban combat.
You play as Sgt Joe ‘Red’ Hartsock in a story that’s part retelling of Road To Hill 30’s events (from Red’s perspective) but mostly an entirely new story that takes place on D-Day and the days beyond as the 101st Airborne division fight for the liberation of Normandy.
The most important thing to emphasize is that if you go into the game expecting a basic Medal of Honor-style shoot-‘em-up you’ll soon be as dead as what’s left of the Greatest Generation. EIB is all about tactics and teamwork, even more so than in the original game. Adrenalin junkies or anyone with a lack of patience shouldn’t even think about buying this. We tried simply running towards the Nazis with machine gun blazing. We died. Repeatedly.
Instead, the gameplay makes you focus on the ‘four Fs’ of infantry combat. These are, in sequence: 1) Finding the enemy, 2) Fixing them in their positions with suppressive fire, 3) Flanking them while they’re pinned and 4) Finishing them off. Remember: F.
To achieve all this you have to command separate units – a fire team to suppress the enemy and an assault team to out-flank and kill the enemy. Issuing orders is as simple as selecting the relevant team then positioning a cursor and pressing either the left trigger to get your men to move to that position, or the right trigger to order them to fire at that position.
Unfortunately, the superb AI found on other platforms is notably absent on the PS2. Your squadmates will rush headlong into death over and over, defeating the overall purpose of the gameplay, and enemies have an infuriating knack for spotting you anytime, anywhere. We’re not sure what went wrong here, because Earned in Blood on the PS2 has problems above and beyond the graphics. If you have the means, pick up the PC or Xbox version.
This so much more tragic since the game is real step forward from its predecessor, far removed from rival quick-fix WWII games as you can get. If you fancy a deep, serious game that represents a huge challenge - and aren’t adverse to constantly studying a map and positioning your men before seeing any action - then this war hero is in a league of its own.