|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Gearbox Software||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sep. 23, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-20||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by D'Marcus Beatty
May 24, 2007 - Going through a rough, dangerous situation together bonds individuals like few other experiences can. That is the concept behind the upcoming FPS, Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway, which places you in the shoes of a soldier in Operation Market-Garden, the largest Airborne invasion ever.
One of the goals of Hell's Highway is for the player to establish a rapport with the other soldiers in your unit. Each soldier has a distinct identity, and the game is actually based on historical events. You control the squad and give each team orders, such as where to go or whom to shoot. Orders are contextually based, so sending a group of soldiers to wall and they'll creep over to it, stealthily if they haven't been seen by the enemy yet. Highlight a door, and the team will open or smash the door in. You also have the option of using a tactical map to plan your strategy and give your orders. Your team also has great A.I. from what I witnessed, as they take orders and react realistically and don't blindly follow orders. Order them into an exposed area and they'll find the closest cover regardless of your orders and without waiting to be told.
Author and soldier Colonel John Antal is the game's consultant for authenticity and from the few minutes of the demo I witnessed, it showed. Weapons sound like their real-life counterparts and the game feels like you're actually in a warzone. One way that this is expressed is in the fact that cover is destructible. At one point in the demo, the character targeted an enemy soldier stationed behind a wall and shot him, the bullet piercing his makeshift cover effectively. This means that neither the player nor the enemy can take cover indefinitely, as the weaponry, including bazooka and mortar crews, have the option of destroying nearly anything used as protection.
There are also other little touches to enhance the gameplay. One is the inclusion of a circle above the heads of the enemies that show their state of suppression. Effective covering fire keeps the enemies from being able to retaliate, and the circle above their heads shows how well you're doing in that respect. Conversely, whenever your character is out in the open and vulnerable to fire, the screen takes on a blurred, red tint that indicates that you're in danger, which does a good job of recreating that exposed feeling for anticipation of danger. Another addition is the superfluous but extremely cool explosion effects. If you throw a grenade or call in a particularly potent bazooka attack, either of which creates a spectacular kill, the game zooms in on the action, showing your foes propelling from the blast in slow motion. It almost seems like an ESPN slo-mo replay, but with explosion and death instead of slam dunks or homeruns.
The close of the demo had the protagonist making his way into an building and battling foes within. Eventually he makes his way to the upper floor, where he finds a mounted turret. He mans the turret and takes out the reinforcements advancing on their position, sometimes destroying the sandbag cover they hid behind. After beating back the enemy, an explosion drives the protagonist to the ground, and the screen shows a mysterious bespectacled figure watching him. This is where the demo and presumably the stage ended, but it obviously shows that the game will have a story behind the gameplay.
Even at this early stage, Hell's Highway is looking great. There is a lot of detail in the character models, and they all animate realistically. When undetected, your squad moves stealthily but swiftly, with everyone whispering the orders or the confirmation. During firefights, the squad moves much more dynamically.
Hell's Highway is also promising online multiplayer as well as a stunning single player campaign. Although the multiplayer wasn't shown, the game will have a number of game modes, including free for alls and squad based battles as well.
Overall, Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway is looking like a great and immersive gaming experience. Combining its realistic, tactical gameplay, squad based combat, next-gen visuals, historical accuracy, and intense firefights, Hell's Highway is definitely shaping up to be a game to watch this holiday.
CCC Co-Site Director