Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway Hands-On

We played through the first four levels of the nearly finished Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway.

Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway looks set to carve a niche for itself in the overcrowded World War II genre. But Ubisoft and Gearbox's insistence on qualifying its historical accuracy is becoming rather jarring. We were recently invited to central London to meet veterans of Operation Market Garden, the battle that features prominently in the game. The ex-servicemen offered their personal take on their involvement in the turning point of the second world war, which was both fascinating and moving to hear. The problem is that the game wants it both ways--it clearly wants to honour the soldiers, but it can't help glamourising the act of war itself.

Covering and flanking are at the heart of combat in Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway.

Take the first level, for example, where we managed to score a headshot on an unlucky German. The camera moves from the first-person perspective toward a third-person view of your victim, at which point the directors of The Matrix take over and frame the blood-splattering, cranium-popping spectacle in painstaking slow-motion detail. On the second level, the same viewpoint is used to highlight the damage of a grenade as the explosion sent the limbs of two soldiers spiraling off in every angle.

If you're not surrounded by war vets, though, Hells Highway looks like it will be a more entertaining experience. The game has great cinematics with the obligatory Band of Brothers/Saving Private Ryan cinematography, while the excellent tutorial mission eases you into the game's cover-based combat system. It's heavily based on the "find, fix, flank, finish" combat style actually employed during the war, which means you have to pin your enemy down and then attack from a different angle to finish him off. You can use your teammates in either the fixing or flanking role, but you need to fire at the enemy until the red circle above his head turns gray to indicate he's been pinned down.

We got to fight alongside two different sets of teams during the first four levels--regular assault squads that use rifles and a bazooka squad for more explosive support. Both teams are easy to command--you hold down the left trigger to pull up a cursor and then point to where you want them to go. If you point at enemies, they'll start firing automatically, but if you try to send them somewhere dangerous, they'll automatically take cover and fend for themselves. On one occasion, our bazooka squad simply refused to pop out from around a corner to fire at our target, but otherwise, the system seemed to work just fine.

The game has a gritty, realistic visual style and features some stylishly directed cut-scenes.

One standout feature is the destructible cover, which really comes into its own at the beginning of the fourth level. You can hide behind fences, but the wooden planks break apart under rifle fire, so you need to keep moving. Sandbags are a more solid defense, but they can be completely destroyed with a direct hit from rocket fire. There's no health system per se, but if you're out of cover your comrades will tell you you're in a vulnerable position, and the screen goes red if you become too exposed.

Adding to the violence we talked about earlier, Brothers in Arms features some fairly adult themes. Your AI teammates argue or bicker, and we even heard a couple of strong expletives in the cutscenes. While using a windmill as a lookout point, we saw a young farm girl being dragged into a barn. When we got back down to the ground and went to investigate, we saw how she'd been strung up by the German forces and left to die. There was also a moment when we headed into town to be greeted by a vicar, only to see him get shot by the advancing Germans shortly after.

The graphics in Hell's Highway are impressive, with faces that are visibly scarred from battle, as well as character models that are detailed right down to the dirty fingernails and scratched-up equipment. One of the coolest ideas was the achievements system, which is based on the Kilroy illustrations that real soldiers made in World War II. Bored American infantrymen inscribed drawings on the side of buildings to show that they'd been there, and you can earn achievement points by finding them hidden around the levels.

Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway looks like an interesting new take on the FPS genre. The game has been in development for a while, during which time many other World War II shooters have made it to market. However, the cover dynamics and team play differentiate it from such series as Medal of Honor and Call of Duty. We've also yet to see the multiplayer game, which we hope will add longevity to the single-player experience. The game is due for release on the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 on September 26.

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Discussion

154 comments
Zantozzzz
Zantozzzz

well if you only like games where you can shoot everything moves or shoot when you want this game is not for you. You must see before shooting.

Jatzi
Jatzi

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

allybug
allybug

why are they hiding multiplayer it mustnt be much 2 boast about

RMorris101
RMorris101

Looking forward to this one... I have heard though that you only get to play as tanks in some awful shoot em up sections and in other sections you go it alone without any squads. If this is the case then it is a departure from what makes this game great :-(

LOXO7
LOXO7

I just seen the TV ad. At first I thought it was a Wii exclusive game. Until I was corrected. :|

Myxisbird
Myxisbird

Sounds epic! Can't wait to get my hands on this one.

blackjack95
blackjack95

SIMPLY GOING TO BE TBE BEST IN THE SERIES

1mpthra
1mpthra

I seriously cant wait! I hate how there keeping the multiplayer so hidden

WarGrad
WarGrad

Also what made the mission a disaster was the fact it was Montgomery in command of an operation that required speed, finesse, tactics, and some luck. He dragged his feet when things weren't to his liking and thousands of thousands of paratroopers were killed, wounded, or missing as a result. 8000 from the British 1st Airborne alone. He may have been known for finesse(maybe), tactics, and luck, but surely not speed. Sure intel was wrong, but commanders are supposed to overcome all obstacles are to be overcome in order to be successful.

-Saint
-Saint

Most under-rated game of 2008: --> Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway

wogglies5
wogglies5

Finally it's coming out! No more delays! We can finally get our hands on it!!1!

Duxhockey
Duxhockey

I was skeptikal about the graphics because they were good in the first ads then they got worse and worse, but they definately got better anmd the story always looked good I can't wait for it on wednesday I already preordered limited edition at Gamestop. Limited Edition FTW!!!

sandking88
sandking88

The official PC specs have been announced for Brothers in Arms Hells Highway! Check it out below: Supported OS: Windows® XP SP3/Windows Vista® SP1 (only) Processor: 2.6 GHz dual-core (3 GHz for Intel Pentium D 925) RAM: 1 GB (2 GB Recommended) Video Card: 128 MB DirectX® 9.0c–compliant, Shader 3.0–enabled (see supported list*) Sound Card: DirectX® 9.0– or 10.0–compliant DirectX Version: DirectX® 9.0 or 10.0 (on disc) DVD-ROM: 4x dual-layer drive Hard Drive Space: 8 GB Multiplay: Broadband internet connection with 384 Kbps upstream Peripherals Supported: Keyboard, mouse, optional controller (Xbox 360® Controller for Windows recommended) *Supported Video Cards at Time of Release: ATI® RADEON® X1600/1650–1950/HD 2000/3000 series NVIDIA GeForce® 6800/7/8/9 series

Berzi
Berzi

game's visuals are totally realistic , actually i am looking forward to this game,Ubisoft games are very great

patsy-cline
patsy-cline

Can't wait for it! I like the way this game has realistic tactics scheme, altought the WWII genre is worn out i still want it! P.S. I can't wait to blow a guy up with the tank!

kwloy
kwloy

WOOOO!!! CANT F'IN WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

lewis2112
lewis2112

Cant wait for this bad boy, pre ordered it today at gamestation and i get a free remote control tank too XD

sandking88
sandking88

The best WWII game for 2008 , the game will be released on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on September 23, 2008 in North America and Microsoft Windows version following a week later on September 30, 2008 :) :) :) :) :)

coolcat888
coolcat888

5 more days! I'm a huge fan of the frist two BiA games. I've been waiting for this game ever since they first announced a 3rd BiA. :D

majorpain52
majorpain52

I hope there is a COOP mode in multiplay, as run and gun gets old and arcade like real quick on FPS. Something like the COOP maps on Vietcong by 6th Sense would be nice. Make it realistic PLZ? AMF Tracer------>

-Saint
-Saint

This game looks so amazing. It's going to be strange to play BIA: HH though, knowing that the story takes place during an operation that you know you do not win.

harvers
harvers

However, even though not a true success Operation Market Garden proved the worth of the Airborne Forces and convential Forces of both Countries. The only fault with the plan with hindsight seemed to be the mis conceptoion by the Allies of the German Forces being as weak as the Intel Supplied 'Old Boys and young Children'. Oh yeah and the inability to accept that elements of 2 Panzer Divisions were in the area.This is to say that these men against the odds took on the task of 'racing for the Rhine; to try and end the war by Christmass 1944.Lets not forget the Heroism displayed by both sides to achieve their aim.Lets all enjoy the game and maybe if its as good as it looks get an atmospheric feel for the time it took place.

jopickard
jopickard

Correct; Operation Market Garden was NOT deemed an Allied victory. A Bridge Too Far was an excellent book (by Cornelius Ryan) and was also a great movie.

piefacemanofpoo
piefacemanofpoo

its finished!!! look on gearboxity 0 work items left

chilipepperman
chilipepperman

i hope there isnt a checkpoint system anymore. those suck balls

chilipepperman
chilipepperman

looks good, i didnt like the first BIA game but hopefully this will be better and less hard. :)

xatman911
xatman911

This is great. We really need to honour the lives of men who placed their life on the line for us bravely. Same can be said for both sides. After all we are all humans. I hope they also include things from opposition perspective. That would be awesome.

davidebborn
davidebborn

sounds awesome, seems to use the Rainbow six vegas covering system.

slipper_1
slipper_1

im a big military shooter fan and this one i cant wait any longer.

CoL0sS
CoL0sS

I liked the first two games and i will undoubtedly like this one. Great graphics, promising story, WW2 setting =P. It was said it will be launched Sep 23 and as that day approached they rescheduled it for 30th... Now, I think i speak for every1 when i say "guys what the hell are u w8ing for ???"

booperq
booperq

Only 8 more days until this game is released although I'm not goint to hold my breath on that. Anyways, I really hope it is on on the 23rd because I can't wait. The more that I see the gameplay from it, I want right now!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Let's hope that they aen't going to be greedy and not get it out until the holidays. That will not make me happy

jlhetrick
jlhetrick

deetzmeyer- if pigs could fly.....

jlhetrick
jlhetrick

Been wait'n for this one. Looks like the bike will be parked in the garage all day and night on the 27th and 28th. Darn shame too since it's a great time of the year to ride. Ah shoot. Maybe I can squeez a ride in between missions.

Ricky-Wagner
Ricky-Wagner

WHOOOOAA CANT WAIT TO BLOW SUM NAZIS HEADS OFF!!!!

Supaza
Supaza

I wonder if you can turn off the "zoom camera to see victim" thing, when i'm playing i don't want any pointless slow mo moments every time i kill someone. If their going for relaism they should take the whole thing out. Judging by this review it seems like they are glorifying war while trying to portray its brutality. Can't glorify head popping along side the brutality of shooting vicars and girls.

amscheip1
amscheip1

wait so its now coming out on the 26?

deetzmeyer
deetzmeyer

You're wrong sithlordstevo, it was an allied defeat and a German victory but not a turning point. If the Germans could have capitilized on the victory, buying them time to build reserves and succeed in the Winter offensive in the Ardenne, then it would have been a turning point. It did not affect the outcome of the war though.

omego1023
omego1023

hahahaha there goes a 100 points for this game... one of the achievements is to play on september 17th, yet the game is released on the 23 haha. (game still looks badass though)

gamer082009
gamer082009

I just have a feeling that something is gonna be missing from this game. Any-who, game looks amaaaazing! Can't wait to get it.

REMLOC
REMLOC

THIS GAME IS GOING TO BE GREAT!