|System: PC, X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Gearbox||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 7, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-24||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Individual controls are of the standard first-person shooter variety. There isnt a prone position, but there is a Dig in feature, which is the same key used to get up against cover; takes some getting used to. At first, figuring out exactly how the character can be moved behind cover is a trial and error experience. But, once mastered, moving between cover and taking out enemies becomes fast-paced and second-nature.
Hells Highway also boasts an action camera feature that slows down time and lets the player experience the excessively brutal part of war: dismemberment. For example, if you throw a grenade in the middle of a group of enemy soldiers, if the damage is serious enough, the camera will slow down and let you experience slow-motion carnage. The action camera also comes into play when the player manages to get a head shot, but, luckily, the realism isnt completely disregarded, as the enemy soldiers head does stay attached to his body. Typically, bullet-time-like features are more common in science-fiction shooters, but Gearbox has managed to bring it to the historical shooter fairly well. It doesnt occur too often to be annoying, but when it does happen, it does provide a bit of satisfaction. And, the best part is, there is an option to turn it off, so if it isnt your thing, it doesnt have to be present.
The multiplayer component to Hells Highway drops the squad-based A.I. in favor of a more traditional FPS experience. Players can join multiplayer matches of up to 24 and duke it out in attack/defend scenarios that span across a healthy number of unique maps. This portion of the game is setup to allow for squad-based combat by placing each player into one of four squads and then assigning a squad leader. There is in-game VOIP available to help create unity among the players, but its effectiveness depends on the players willingness to use it. Tanks do play a role in the multiplayer, as the attacking team is issued the use of one to help make the push for the flags.
There are some drawbacks to the multiplayer, however, in that it is extremely buggy. Player animations will often do strange things, making players stand and move in odd poses, creating a laugh about the first 20 times its seen, but becoming bothersome after that. Using cover doesnt always seem to work either, as getting close to an edge almost always exposes enough to be shot and killed easily. Map designs are pretty standard and dont offer the same effect that the single-player environments do, making it appear as if the developers didnt put much time or effort into them. Furthermore, finding a nicely populated game without a lot of lag can be a difficult task. If its this hard to just find a match to participate in, the rest of the experience certainly doesnt make up for it.
Hells Highway multiplayer component has all the evidence of a rush job. And, a lot of its success and enjoyment depends on the people youre playing with. Nevertheless, Gearbox could certainly patch the game and provide a more stable foundation, but until then, there are better World War II multiplayer games available.
Fans of the series shouldnt be disappointed by what Gearbox has done with Hells Highway. The focus for these titles has always been on the single-player campaign, plot, and characters, and all these things come together quite nicely. The player will find that Hells Highway offers an enjoyable experience from start to finish despite its less than perfect execution. While the multiplayer has potential, in its current state it has far too many issues to be a consistently fun endeavor. Therefore, if youre planning on seeing the Brothers in Arms story through to the end, Hells Highway is a must buy. If youre a newcomer to the series, its recommended that you play the first two before delving into this one, as youll miss out on the developed story up to that point. If youre looking for a new World War II multiplayer experience, it would be best to skip over Hells Highway and wait for something a little more multiplayer-oriented.
CCC Freelance Writer