When Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 was released a few years ago, it was nothing short of the revelation that the fledging World War II shooter genre needed. Instead of playing as a single solider ready to take down the entire Nazi Regime, players were forced to tactically map out the battlefield, use real military tactics, and most of all, trust in the man next to you. A well-received sequel was quickly churned out, and then the franchise fell silent. It's been a few years since we've been treated to a new Brothers in Arms game, but the wait is almost over.
Right off the bat, it's apparent that the move to the next generation of consoles has been very kind to the series. The game simply looks amazing. New night and day cycles, spectacular rain effects, and mind-blowing animation are just the tip of the iceberg for this new instalment. The game is so well voice acted and the characters so memorable, the great graphics conspire to help make the characters that much more sympathetic and human.
The audio for the game is simply the best we saw at E3, period. Rumbling tanks, earth shattering explosions, and outstanding voice acting create an unrivalled sonic assault on the gamer.
For Hell's Highway, players will again step into the shoes of Matt Baker, the squad leader from the first title. Veterans will recognize several familiar faces from the first two games, and should be able to step right in. The game plays similarly to the first two games, but with several earth shattering tweaks. First and foremost, the environments are now extremely destructible. Taking cover behind sheet metal or a brick outcropping is no longer the safe haven it used to be. A well placed explosive will crush certain cover, meaning players will now have to be more mobile and tactical in their thinking than ever.
Also, the enemy AI is far more dynamic than before. The enemy will adapt to your tactics better than ever before, and will be trying to outflank you at the same time. The Ai will try to destroy your cover as well, and the tactical advantage of the battlefield is in a constant state of flux. Fortunately, trusting your squad is easier than ever before thanks to superb AI on their end too. The game will tell you when you have an enemy suppressed and my squad never walked in front of my shots or ran off and did their own thing without my order.
The game has also expanded the unit types for the game, including a bazooka team that is excellent for flushing enemies from cover, and base of fire squads that are excellent for suppressing enemies in place. Also, players will now be able to command three squads at once instead of just two, increasing the size of the battles.
Players will now also be able to snap to cover using a system similar to the one seen in Rainbow Six Vegas. This mechanic makes navigating and observing your surroundings easier and more intuitive than ever.
Gearbox is calling the game "fat linear", which essentially means that the levels will guide the players from one combat set piece to another, but there are various directions and methods to achieve victory, such as order one of your squads down one street to set up, while your flank the enemy down a second alleyway.
Gearbox is promising a minimum ten hour campaign with the game, in addition to twenty-player, ten versus ten multiplayer. Each side will also have an overall unit leader. Players can technically do whatever they want, but victory and the ranking leader boards will favour those work together as a squad and follow the orders of their superiors. Also, players can select from a variety of classes including tank leader, medic, and infantry.
Hells Highway is looking simply excellent at this late stage of development, and despite numerous delays to the game, it looks like all that time has certainly paid off. Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway is GamingExcellence's pick for Best Overall Shooter, Best Audio, and runner-up for Overall Best Game of E3 2008. Players will be able to finally join the battle for themselves this September.