Battalion 1944 [official site] blindsided me. I played a few rounds last week at developer Bulkhead’s studio in Derby and consistently came last in the leaderboards at the end of our team deathmatch battles. That’s partly because I’m not the best FPS player in the North West, let alone the world, and it’s partly because I was playing with the people who made the game. They know the maps, they know the weapons, they know the details of motion and gunplay. There’s a much more simple reason though: I was crouching and crawling and looking for the perfect shot instead of running and jumping and shooting anything that moved on sight.
The level I played, the Manor house, contains elements of the historic assault on Brecourt Manor, which you may remember from episode two of Band of Brothers. Visually, the cues are striking, but this is a traditional deathmatch game, with rapid respawns and movement rather than an attempt to recreate anything resembling reality. Battalion blindsided me because it is, aesthetically, very successful in conjuring up one kind of history but the way it plays is looking to much more recent historical references.