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Platform

Xbox 360

 

Genre

Shooter

 

Publisher

Ubisoft

 

Developer

Gearbox Software

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

September 23, 2008

 

- A good mix of tactical and straight up shooting
- Persistent bodies and gore really convey the brutality of war
- Story actually had me interested
- Enemies that know when they should take cover

 

 

- Levels are only interactive under certain conditions
- It's often the case the enemy AI will just know where you are

 

 

Review: Rainbow Six Vegas 2 (360)

Review: Brothers in Arms: The Road to Hill 30 (360)

Review: Call of Duty 3 (360)

 

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Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

brothers in arms hell's highway          brothers in arms hell's highway

 

Comparing games rather than weighing the merits of a single game in a vacuum is really easy to do and almost happens automatically. With Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway I find myself comparing the game to Rainbow Six Vegas whenever someone asks what Hell's Highway is all about.

"It's like Rainbow Six Vegas 2 but in Holland during World War II rather than present day Las Vegas."

As Staff Sargeant Matthew Baker, players take part in Operation Market Garden. And it's not done single-handedly or with a continual supply of squad buddies to

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draw fire from the enemy. Rather than fight alone Baker very often commands squads around the battlefield in order to setup ambushes and flanking manuevers. There's something really cool about pulling off a coordinated attack -- the bazooka team blows away an MG emplacement as your assault team, far off to the right, opens up on any survivors or likely reinforcements while you crouch behind cover

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watching the whole thing. Besides feeling cool, moving squads around the field is easy to do and on the whole they behave far better than any random human you might match with online. If you tell them to hide behind that tree they'll stay there until they're called or given another location to move to.

During the bigger encounters, these squadmates are life savers but a too-high percentage of the game is spent alone with no back-up to call upon.

It speaks to the strength of the squad AI that I actually liked the parts of the game that called for proper management (and some straight shooting) rather than just looking out for Baker. The squad-less sections of the game don't fair so well in comparison to the likes of Call of Duty 4 or Rainbow Six Vegas 2, particularly with the very limited interaction with the environments, especially indoors. Some wood can be splintered, some can't; a very small amount of debris can stop Baker in his tracks; spotting the interactive points and roadblocks is a matter of experience but the funnel effect many of them create is disappointing. Having to strategize with the squad takes attention away from the weaker parts of the single-player experience and is simply more rewarding.

 

brothers in arms hell's highway          brothers in arms hell's highway
 

Getting invested in characters in an action game or first-person shooter happens so rarely in a game, which is why I was surprised when I started to feel myself get drawn into the story and the characters. Baker is suffering from some kind of post-traumatic stress and in later chapters of the game he starts to see things that aren't there, along with other hallucinations. The fact Baker is in possession of a "cursed" pistol layers on a little extra tension since soldiers are, understandably, superstitious.

I'd like to be more charitable to the online portion of Hell's Highway but, well, I can't. It's directly tied to the run and gun Rambo types that would rather run toward bullets than take cover and co-ordinate some kind of attack or defense (depending on the game type). The technical side seems to be fine -- finding a lag-free match presents no problems -- but with the single-player game setting up the basics of taking cover and ordering squads around, the multiplayer is essentially a counter to an otherwise solid single-player game because it hardly even plays the same.

If there is a sequel, and there probably will be, here's hoping Gearbox provides more squad management and little more complexity to the environments, since all the other pieces appear to be in place.

- Aaron Simmer

(October 20, 2008)

 

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