Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway PC DVD
Published by: Focus Multimedia
Developed by: Gearbox Software
World War II based FPS games have been done to death and it takes a special game to draw your attention. Game developers constantly have to come up with different ways to present battles from World War II and avoid simply giving us another run and gun shooter that would bore us rigid. Gearbox Software have given us their take on the World War II FPS genre with the Brothers in Arms series which provided a more strategic take on the combat. The games required you to outflank and supress enemies rather than simply tackling them in a full frontal assault.
Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway involves us in Operation Market Garden and puts the gamer in the shoes of Sergeant Matt Baker. The game doesn’t offer anything like a rich storyline and instead focuses on the camaraderie between the soldiers in the game. Hell’s Highway does make references to other characters that were in earlier Brothers in Arms games and if you haven’t played these games you will probably feel as though you’re missing out to a minor degree. The game does attempt a series recap at the beginning of the game but it’s nowhere near good enough for those who were previously unfamiliar to the series.
Whilst there are times when you’ll go it alone, for the most part you’ll be in charge of small squads of different types (such as machine guns and bazookas) as you attempt to suppress and outflank your enemies. Those who are familiar with the series will be instantly at home with how the game plays and for those who are new to the series; tutorials introduce the concepts in a useful way allowing you to get up to speed as quickly as possible. Your AI subordinates mostly follow your orders to the letter although there are occasions when things can go awry and your troops can put themselves in perilous positions at times rather than finding cover. The enemy AI could also be better too and there are times when they make it all too easy for you by not finding cover.
The game offers three difficulty modes: Casual, Veteran and Authentic. The first of these modes don’t offer that much of a challenge but the Veteran difficulty level should suit most people. Existing fans of the series, and more experienced FPS gamers might be disappointed that you can’t jump straight to the Authentic mode as it has to be unlocked first. The Authentic mode is actually very challenging as it removes all of the visual aids that provide you with information. Essentially, the Authentic mode requires you to rely on what you can see without giving you any form of assistance. Those who like their FPS games to be challenging will certainly appreciate the difficult nature of the mode.
Online and LAN multiplayer is offered too, but it’s certainly nothing to get excited about. There’s support for up to twenty players, playing as either the Americans or Germans, and half a dozen maps (which haven’t been designed that well) to play on. The basic idea is to either eradicate the enemy or raise or lower flags. It’s not a lot to get excited about and it’s one of those instances where it would have been better had a multiplayer mode not been included. In fact the ability to play through the campaign co-operatively would have been much nicer.
The original release of the game may have been a few years ago now but Hell’s Highway still looks impressive. Of course you’ll need to have a fairly strong PC to have the game looking it’s best and running smoothly but it was a pleasant surprise to find just how good the game’s graphics are. The presentation for an FPS is refreshing and you’ll find the camera zooming in on the action for dramatic effect at times too, and it’s all very impressive. The game is quite gory with limbs and other body parts being blown off your enemies but the gore can be disabled if it’s not to your liking.
Hell’s Highway is subtitled and deaf gamers will be able to follow the game’s storyline as well as all of the important dialogue in the game. The dialogue does display the speaker’s name so you’re aware of who is speaking. There is some peripheral speech that isn’t subtitled. Whilst most of this is of no real importance and doesn’t provide any essential information, there is some speech I would have liked to have had subtitled such as the orders that are shouted out to your troops. The game’s tutorial messages are in text and help you to get to grips with the game if this is the first Brothers in Arms title that you’ve played (these messages can be skipped if you so choose). Mission objectives and your immediate goals are displayed in text and if you own one of the Logitech keyboards that have a small LCD screen on them, the mission objectives and immediate goals will be displayed there. The game makes good use of icons such as those that show whether your enemies are suppressed or not and you’ll notice the screen redden when your health is low so that you know that cover needs to be found urgently. All things considered the game offers a good experience for deaf gamers but there is room for improvement.
Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway shows that a World War II based FPS can still be enjoyable when it’s handled properly and in an interesting fashion. Series veterans might be a little cheesed off that you can initially only access two out of the three available difficulty settings as they will probably find them too easy. For the rest of us this won’t be a problem however. Hell’s Highway is a game that most FPS fans will enjoy. The AI of both your troops and the enemy could be sharper at times and the multiplayer mode is forgettable. However, the game still looks great and offers much more than the simple run and gun gameplay that you’ll find in most World War II FPS titles.