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whatshot Brothers in Arms Hell's Highway PS3 Review - www.impulsegamer.com -

Gameplay 7.8
Graphics 7.7
Sound 8.5
Value 8.5
Distributor: UbiSoft
Classification:
M15+
Review Date:
October 2008
Reviewer:
Edwin Millheim

7.7


Brothers in Arms
Hell's Highway

Available on PC, PS3, Xbox360

War is hell, and extremely engaging. At least it is in the well-done series Brothers In Arms. In Brothers In Arms: Hell's Highway, the latest from Ubisoft, in the series ramps up the storyline and the game play all around. Primarily a few welcome tweaks have been added into the game play. Sprinting one would think would have been a no brainer, but sprinting to cover is a much needed and well-used feature, vaulting over cover is well implemented in the game.

One of the coolest things that have been added is recon points. These are locations that your character can get an over watch or look at an area and spot out important terrain and enemy position details. Your area map is then updated with key points, including ammo drops. This is great when you need to resupply ammo. Especially grenades. The Recon feature is a lot like getting a bird's eye view in Assassins Creed only neither as dramatic nor precarious in the way the character gets to the recon point. Some of these recon points do not seem to serve much point in game terms other than unlocking history lessons within the game. Nonetheless, they are interesting to say the least. My favorite is windmills, they are good over-watch to an area and after reconnoitering the area, it makes a great sniper position. Too bad there where not more in later levels.

Three levels of difficulty make the game accessible to most types of players from beginner to advanced players. Those difficulty levels are Casual, which is not overly challenging. Enemy gunfire is not that accurate. Therefore, you can live longer while exposing yourself to dangers a bit more than normal. Veteran level is of course for those that want a bit more of a challenge. The enemy tends to be a bit more aggressive and accurate with the gunfire. The Authentic level is unlocked after finishing the game in either Casual or Veteran. The Authentic level is much harder, much of the icons on the head up display are not active. Including targeting ring. This makes the gun battles, and aiming down the barrel of your weapon almost the only way to hit anything. Of course making sure there is a good site picture in order to hit the target.

Those expecting to run and gun will soon find out the hard way that this will get the character killed fast. While the weapon fire is coming in your way, there is a threat indicator that turns the screen red and has a bit of a blur. This means that soon one of the incoming bullets is going to have your name on it. Taking cover is always a good idea.

The dig in (duck and cover) feature is a lot like Rainbow Six Vegas, only in WW2 of course. The system works pretty well and only has minor tangles at some corners where the over the shoulder camera cant quite get the angles right in order to see past the character and to the target. Occasionally if too close to a wall or fencing or other cover, the dig in button for the character just would not work. Pulling back a bit and hitting the dig in button again worked then. It is darn frustrating though to try to duck, cover, and the button does not work, and then getting shot and killed. Hard to believe the play testers missed that one. It may actually have been one of those cases of compromise. Kind of a, we know this is a problem, but is it a game killer? No, it is not, so let us fix this bigger problem.

The battle action in Hell's Highway can get intense. Tactical taking of cover helps keep the character and the teams alive. Some of that cover is destructible, depending on what weapon used against it. A well-placed grenade makes short work of sandbags rather spectacularly. The physics of the destructible cover as noted is impressive. Some odd clipping instances go on in the graphics with dead enemy clipping through items. It is something that does not take too much away from the game, but it is odd and kind of kills the immersive moment when a character is warping through graphics.

Using the different squads in your command the right way and at the right time can mean the difference between winning the engagement cleanly, or with casualties, or worse being killed. There are three types of teams. The fire team is equipped with long-range weapons of higher caliber. They are best for suppressing the enemy when things are getting hot and heavy. The assault team, as the name implies, is equipped with light weapons with short range. Using them to work around the enemy and hit them from the flank is always a good bet. Special weapons team usually has either a machine gun, or bazooka. During the game, the player ends up commanding from one, to two team, and later in the game all three at once.

For the sake of the story, occasionally the main character is cut off from the teams and has to go it alone. It is somewhat odd at times when this happens but is more about the characters and the story within these larger events that is operation Market Garden. A few times during a mission when there is building clearing to be done, you cannot even order any teams in with you. They stay outside; the command to move them does not even come up when inside the building. Odd, but passable. Once in a while, you take over a tank as another character, but it seems more like a throw in to break up game play a bit for variety. It is a nice diversion, but again, other than breaking up the game a bit with variety, there does not seem to be much point to these missions. The sniper mission is actually the most fun, short as it may be.

During all the battles with bullets flying and explosions going off makes it very difficult to look for some of the little hidden things in the game. At least while the battle is going on. In each map there are hidden icons scrawled with in the game world called Killroys. Finding one and hitting the square button causes the player to scrawl under the drawing, Killroy was here. Other than scrawling that little message, there does not seem to be any benefits to doing this. Unlike the recon points, which it seems all they are there for, is to open up bonus content in the form of recon reports. The recon reports as noted earlier on are actually history lessons as to the real world events that the game is based on.

The game is actually fun. A couple of the other staff has asked members here that question at ImpulseGamer. Let me rephrase, the single player game seems to have more chops than the multiplayer gaming. This is by no means a slight concerning the multiplayer options (When I could get it to work that is) just for a squad based game I have yet to be able to find a multiplayer experience where the players work together. The multiplayer experience in this case turns into an unthought ľout, run and gun blast fest. Again, this is usually with the level of players in a multiplayer game, not the game itself. It is cool to have some air support from time to time to blast your opponents, but what is the point when no one on a team is playing with a team?

The story is engrossing and flows into the darker stresses of war and how those stresses affect combatants. The story is deep and for those Brothers In Arms fans that have followed and played the other games in the series franchise, many things are answered. While the cut scenes are pretty well done and advance the story, they are rather meaty. For those who rather get into the game and just get into the missions and into the enemy engagements they find the cut scenes excessively long for their tastes.

Brothers In Arms: Hell's Highway set during the allied invasions of occupied Europe, so there are plenty of game and story potential there. I could see future games in the series following Baker all the way to Berlin. With a few extra tweaks, such as more use for the over head map, like the ability to command and move your troops on the map, or calling in air support or other types of support would be welcome in future games.

Have fun
Play games
Edwin Millheim





 

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