Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway Review
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Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway provides an emotionally charged story that will draw you into the battlefield, but some lackluster AI, visuals, and online play will take you right back out.
- Amazing storyline
- Solid cover system
- Pretty particle effects
- Inconsistent AI
- Lack of visual polish
- Lame online play
Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway is one of those rare games that manage to capture the realistic emotion and sentiment that true soldiers on the front line experience. The series has always followed the 502nd Parachute Infantry, 101st Airborne Division throughout their trials and tribulations of war. Revealing the soldier’s deepest thoughts, fears, and personality development, Gearbox Software captures the minds of gamers and sucks them into the battlefield. While these men are no strangers to insurmountable odds, Hell’s Highway is a retelling of Operation Market Garden, a World War II disaster that resulted in many casualties.
Operation Market Garden is also known as the largest airborne invasion within the history of warfare. The plan, which was originally designed to end the war by the Christmas of 1944, ended up being the Allies' greatest failure and the Nazi’s last great victory. The idea was to invade Holland and capture a highway point that would enable the Allies to drive straight into the heart of Germany. Hitler, however, had his best soldiers and tanks surround the area. The Allies were completely oblivious. When they overtook the highway and victory seemed sure, the Nazis came crashing down around the Allies, ending any hope they had at gaining control of that highway.
The majority of the story revolves around Staff Sergeant Matt Baker. You spend a good portion of the start of the game being shown flashbacks of his earlier years, as well as a portion of the stories (from other games in the series) leading up to this point. This is a definite bonus, as it gives gamers who haven’t played the earlier titles a chance to understand what exactly is going on. Baker spends a lot of his time between missions reflecting on his childhood as well as fallen comrades that he’s fought alongside. Throughout Hell's Highway, these aspects come across as genuine, not corny. With this game, Brothers in Arms continues its standing as one of the most emotionally riveting series on the market.
If you’re a fan of the series, you’ll have a strong grasp of the controls right from the get go. Fortunately, if you’re a newcomer, you’re able to go through the game with tutorials enabled until you have a better understanding of the controls. To give you heads up, do not expect to run through Hell's Highway mowing down Nazis as though you’re a new-age Rambo. It just isn’t going to happen. Unlike other titles where you can push forward as your own one man army, BIA forces you to take a strategic and methodical approach to the battlefield that you may not be expecting. The best way to go about pushing forward is eyeing areas where you can take cover, then taking down enemy soldiers one by one. A word of warning is necessary, though -- be careful what you cover behind, as some cover is destructible. If you take cove behind a flimsy wooden barrel, for instance, don't expect to stay there for long, or you'll face rather painful consequences.
So, if you can't be a one man army, how do you make any progress? BIA is actually comparable in a sense to Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2, as you’re given the opportunity to instruct your teammates to perform certain tasks such as laying down cover fire. In total, there are three types of troops you can control to get the job done. These types of squads include Firing, Assault, and Special Weapons teams. If you’re going to be successful, you’ll need to learn how to play to each team's strengths and weaknesses.
Unfortunately, the squad AI is one of the downfalls of Hell’s Highway. Though occasionally your teammates will display glimpses of brilliance by laying down suppressive fire and taking cover, there are also times where they’ll come off completely stupid. For instance, when I instructed one of my units to take cover safely behind a wall, the marker was position right and it should have worked. Sadly, two of the soldiers decided to jump the wall and ended up with more holes in them than 50 Cent on a good day. Another odd occurrence that takes place with your squadron AI is the teleportation issue. I ... (continued on next page)
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