|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|
The squad-based play is so solid that it makes the less stellar solo play stand out. Controlling Baker literally is a hit-or-miss affair. His shots constantly stray from the targeting reticule and, even if you wait for the cross hairs to zero-in, he still misses a good chunk of the time. So, when you have missions where you're separated from your squad, you'll find them to be a frustrating affair. Sometimes Baker will get stuck between two pieces of cover and instead of breaking away, he'll just stay wedged, and you'll have to mash on the controller to get him mobile again. Speaking of cover, the rules for its destructibility are strange. Wood tables will shatter, but you can't shoot through a bed, and somehow a half-destroyed car will protect you from a massive tank round.
What keeps the squad-based play from making the game great is the mission structure. At first, it's fun clearing out a town of Nazis, destroying tanks and placing satchel charges on 88s (a form of heavy artillery), but the fact that nearly every level has these same objectives makes it a grind. When you realize these are the same things you've been doing in WWII games since the original Medal of Honor, it just further compounds their staleness. Multiplayer gets little mention, mainly because it's barely there to begin with. There's only one mode (Capture the Flag) and it's very run-of-the-mill. It feels more like a concession than a fleshed out mode, and it gives the impression that the markers wanted that multiplayer check mark on their box.
Gearbox has used the Unreal Engine 3 to good effect; the battlefields are massive and effects like fire ripping through buildings and rain soaking your troops really grab the eye. It's a shame the rest of the graphical package doesn't hold up. The framerate continually dips, never keeping a solid clip; texture draw-in is prevalent; and some areas just seem to be missing a basic level of detail. The level of care given to the voice acting is excellent, with the actors providing a solid performance, but, like the graphics, this package has its flaws; the score just won't stick with you.
Even with its narrative stumblings and graphical issues, Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway is a solid choice for those looking for a more cerebral approach to WWII shooters. Aspiration got the best of this title - it ultimately promises more than it delivers.
CCC Freelance Writer