War II named Joe "Red" Hartsock. Hartsock was one of the thousands of US Airborne troopers who dropped in behind enemy lines the night before the Normandy landing in France. The story and the campaign are based on the real-life stories of Hartsock and his mates as they fought across the French countryside in those critical first two weeks after the invasion. For those of you who did play Road to Hill 30, Hartsock's name might ring a bell. That's because he was a character in the first game. The storyline in Earned in Blood overlaps that of Road to Hill 30, so you'll get to see Hartsock's point of view, as well as his experiences during the same time frame. As you'd imagine, much of the game is played from a flashback perspective as Hartsock is debriefed on his experiences by a superior officer. The in-engine cutscenes used to advance the story before and after missions are as heartfelt and impactful as they were in the first game, with the voice actor depicting Hartsock doing a fantastic job of conveying the emotion you'd expect from a war-weary soldier.
When Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 was released earlier this year, it was lauded for its nearly seamless integration between first-person-shooter control and squad command mechanics. While clearly not as twitchy as most shooters, Brothers in Arms focused on the tactical aspect of small-squad infantry combat in World War II and packaged it with a cinema-quality presentation reminiscent of HBO's Band of Brothers. Fewer than seven months later, Gearbox has churned out a sequel. And as you'd expect from a sequel turned around so quickly, Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood offers a rather similar experience to its excellent predecessor, with improved enemy artificial intelligence and additional multiplayer options. The novelty has worn off just a bit, though.