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Friday, March 8, 2019

What Could Have Been: Brothers in Arms: Furious 4

Ah, the somber tone of World War II. Fighting against Nazi Germany: considered by many to be one of the most evil, tyrannical governments to have ever existed in human history. The systematic extermination of Jewish people under Chancellor Adolf Hitler and his “Final Solution”. In total, six million Jews were murdered in one of the worst genocides ever seen on Earth.

It's only natural such horrors would attract the entertainment industry. The idea of seeing such monsters get their just desserts would be appealing. In the case of video games, the mere idea of being able to be the one to stop them is even more appealing. Medal of Honor and Call of Duty were the two biggest stars of the World War II military shooter; the latter eventually coming out victorious and now being an annualized first-person shooter known more for its multiplayer and zombies mode that in of itself is a strong enough selling point and could feasibly be its own video game. Nobody tell Activision.

In the midst of those two franchises fighting, a smaller series emerged from Gearbox Software. Brothers in Arms was its name. The game was praised for a much more realistic tone and difficulty; delving into the horrors of the war and the more psychological effects it had, as opposed to the feel-good “we are the champions” tone that both Medal of Honor and Call of Duty sported.

With its presence established, Brothers in Arms went onto spawn sequels and spin-offs. After a while of spin-offs however, the demand for a new main entry struck at an all-time. It was then that Brothers in Arms: Furious 4 was announced. Fans were ready for a next-gen entry of the gritty, emotional, and powerful World War II series; one that would teach Call of Duty who the real alpha military shooter series was. Nobody—nobody—takes away a title from Randy Pitchford!


Well, perhaps unsurprisingly: it was once stated in “Super Best Friends Play” that Randy Pitchford is a magician. You look in your wallet and you’re missing sixty dollars. Not wanting to be limited to being a con artist, Pitchford seems to have learned a new trick: bippity boppity boo, I wave my wand and your favorite game series is now a knockoff Borderlands!

This gem of a game was first shown at E3 2011, specifically at Ubisoft’s conference. Slated for release in the first half of 2012, the game had a similar setting to the other games in that it took place during World War II. That’s about where this game stops resembling a Brothers in Arms game. Instead, we’re met with four new heroes: Chok, Montana, Crockett, and Stitch. They are the titular Furious 4 and whether or not that was their team name is unknown. What is know is that their goal was to ultimately kill Adolf Hitler himself.

The trailer itself was universally hated by fans of the Brothers in Arms series and many pointed out that the premise was similar to Quentin Tarantino’s movie “Inglourious Basterds”. Normally, I’d be inclined to not jump to any conclusions in regards to it being deliberate and perhaps it was merely used as inspiration. However, given Randy Pitchford’s history of being a weasel in the way of either blatantly stealing art—a good example being the inside of the Borderlands 2 box—or outright misusing money in what’s worthy of a federal criminal charge, I’m hesitant give him the benefit of the doubt. You’re free to do so, but as you’ll see over the course of this month: Pitchford’s nothing if not a grifter in an unearned position of power.

Graphically, Furious 4 was clearly inspired by Gearbox’s massively successful FPS-RPG Borderlands. Unlike the previous Brothers in Arms games that had very desaturated colors and aimed to capture the gritty feeling of war, Furious 4 was bright, colorful, zany, and was described as resembling a mashup of Borderlands and People Can Fly’s Bulletstorm.

Gameplay wise, you would have picked between one of the aforementioned Furious 4. Yes, I’m aware that wasn’t their official name, but if Josh Trank can call the Fant4stic the “Fantastic Four”, I’m calling these four bozos the Furious 4. Chok was a Native American soldier who wielded hatches. Montana was a large-built lumberjack—likely a tank based character—who wielded a machine gun. Crockett was a Texan (because every comedy game needs a southerner) who used a cattle iron to brand dead Nazis. This in no way is ripping off Inglourious Basterds, no siree. Last but not least, there was Stitch. Stitch was, and I’m quoting Wikipedia here, “a mentally unstable Irishman who shocks enemies with a custom made taser.” That description screams the Psychos from Borderlands, I can feel it echoing in my ears.

As 2011 went on, no news of the game was given. For fans of the Brothers in Arms franchise, this was a blessing and all that was missing was the game being revealed to have been an out of season April Fools joke. While not quite what was gotten, Ubisoft ended up abandoning the Furious 4 trademark in May of 2012. This meant that both the rights for Furious 4 and Brothers in Arms would now be owned by Gearbox Software and Gearbox Software alone. Once this happened, the Magician formerly known as Randall Stewart Pitchford II came out and said that Furious 4 was no longer a Brothers in Arms game. Rather, it would be its own entity. He cited the overwhelmingly negative reception that the game had gotten, but he specifically noted the reception from the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX).

Fast forward to 2013 and Pitchford announced that Brothers in Arms would get a new game “in the future”. Six years later and that’s not happened.

Fast forward to 2014 and Pitchford said that Furious 4 was made into a new intellectual property after internal discussion. This was in spite of the fact that fan backlash was so great, Pitchford might as well have announced that Borderlands 2 was Brothers in Arms: Handsome Jack’s Spectacular Quest for Freedom from Fascism Nevertheless, Pitchford said the studio ultimately came to the conclusion that, “Furious 4 just wasn’t right for Brothers in Arms.” Continuing, he stated that Gearbox was in the process of making a new game for the franchise, but they wouldn’t announce it until the time was right to do so.

Fast forward yet another year to 2015 and Pitchford said that Furious 4 was no longer a thing. Rather, many of the game’s elements were instead put into Battleborn, which would later die due to competition with Activision-Blizzard’s Overwatch. Nonetheless, Pitchford yet again said they were working on a new Brothers in Arms game, but that they were also looking for assistance from other developers.

All of that information comes from Wikipedia because if Randy Pitchford can go ahead and steal things without permission, by golly so can I. Furious 4’s development was virtually non-existent; it’s a rare case where fan backlash was so great that a developer knew if the game saw the light of day, it would’ve bombed harder than the end of World War II.

Now exactly why Gearbox would have tried to do this is hard to figure out. Gearbox is nothing if not an open, trustworthy company that cannot be accused of doing anything like false advertising, misappropriating funding, or stealing anything! Furious 4 must have just been an accident and we can trust them to deliver on future games. Right, guys?

1 comment:

  1. Tyler "Bio" RodriguezMarch 8, 2019 at 7:14 PM

    No sir, totally trust worthy. Not a shady thing in sight. Ironically an Inglorious Bastards style game would have been something I'd probably enjoy. But not if its cannibalizing Dahmer style a great serious franchise No!