Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway Update

Gearbox is firing on all cylinders with its third World War II strategy action game, which we finally got to see in action, for real.

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Don't you just love those "target render" screenshots and videos that come out, containing an artist's rendition of what a game is supposed to look like after it's actually been completed? Yeah, we don't either. But we do love it when the developer can follow up one of those trailers months or a year later with a playable game that does look quite a bit like that overly polished artwork. That's what Gearbox Software has done with Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway, for which it released one of those flashy, overly produced trailers at last year's Electronic Entertainment Expo. After getting an impressive guided demo of the game itself from Gearbox's head and enthusiastic mouthpiece Randy Pitchford, we're more than willing to forgive the developer a little smoke and mirrors early on.

Hell's Highway isn't radically changing the game over the last two Brothers in Arms games--it's just subtly refining the formula that has worked nicely twice before, and it looks a lot prettier. We saw a sample mission set in Zon, Holland, sometime during the ill-fated Operation Market Garden's massive paratrooper drop. The mission simply tasked the player with crossing a courtyard and gardens surrounding a manor house--though the pockets of German soldiers entrenched in the area made that task easier said than done. Hell's Highway's new addition of a secondary bazooka team made for some explosive results, however, as Pitchford commanded his two teams to advance, flank, and take cover--you know, all the sorts of activities that Brothers in Arms' hybrid action strategy gameplay is known for.

Gearbox is adding lots of little touches to the presentation of Hell's Highway to make it more exciting. One new camera effect came into play when Pitchford tossed a grenade over some sandbags that a German detachment was hiding behind. The action crawled to slow motion as the camera zoomed in on the position, and the grenade exploded to send one soldier flying helplessly skyward. Pitchford says these moments won't be scripted into each level; rather, the game uses a set of parameters to determine when to engage the effect, from the kind of ordnance you're deploying to the number of times you've seen the slow-mo camera already (because it would lose its impact through overuse, after all).

The developers will also use all that next-gen horsepower for more gameplay-relevant modifications to the BIA formula. Much of the cover in the game is highly destructible now, and when we say highly, we mean previously solid obstacles like wooden fences will now afford you about as much protection from your enemies' hot lead as a paper bag. The game's physics engine allows materials like wood to splinter and break apart very realistically as you spray them down with your tommy gun. This capability was illustrated especially well when some soldiers hid behind a wooden cart for cover, and later in the demo when Pitchford used a mounted machine gun from a windowsill to utterly demolish a tall piece of sculpture located in the house's front grounds.

It seems that the game will lean more heavily on story this time around than in the past, given the insertion of in-game cutscenes that we saw during our demo. We're not exactly sure where the scenes fit into the overall plot arc, but once inside the house, the action paused to cut back to a number of flashbacks, and then toward the end of the mission we saw a slightly disturbing image of a previously seen character that we figure had to be the product of some battlefield delusion.

As we mentioned, Gearbox has pretty well met the visual bar it set for itself last year, from what we can tell. (Check out the trailer up top to get a better idea of how the game is coming along graphically.) To be fair, the game was running on a PC with unspecified but no doubt beefy graphics hardware. Pitchford admitted that the detail level may be scaled back slightly on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, but the team is working to make all three games as technically similar as possible. The game will ship for both Windows XP and Vista, but it's undecided as yet if the latter version will support advanced Live for Windows features such as achievements.

We expect to see more of Hell's Highway at E3--including, hopefully, a demo we can get our hands on ourselves--so we'll bring you further impressions in July.

Discussion

104 comments
mingfu
mingfu

best brothers in arms !!!!!!!!!

Rx_Nightmare
Rx_Nightmare

Im gonna grow fond of this new risk system. Im tired of the old "hit with a bullet controller shakes guy gasps screen shakes lose aim" thing that happens over and over non stop in COD because theres MGs everywhere and youre always getting hit with bullets..it angers me

pavarotti2000
pavarotti2000

This game is the coolest game in the history of the world! I've played the other two BIA games a hundred times over and i cant wait for this to be released!

cluch9
cluch9

and lols CCCCHHHHHHAAAARRRRGGGEEEE! phcooooo falls flat on his ass

cluch9
cluch9

umm to dj master o w/e ur name is, the thompson is like that because, thats how some of them sounded, theyre after realism, not w/e feels best in ur hand, and this is long before it is coming out so CHILL, my main concern is the cirgarrette, any1 notice how it trailed behind the had? weird

shorty0100397
shorty0100397

This game looks and feels amazing. This is a game well worth the full price compared to other rubbish. BIA - A* Excellent, cant wait for it to come out.

juanfraino
juanfraino

If only every mobile games looked this good.

Glordit
Glordit

ROFL!? seems that the massive E3 Updates have caused some havok on GS :P As for BiA3 ROCK ON! :)

danalfmon
danalfmon

Quick question, Why in the Hell is the article here?

gamefreakwill
gamefreakwill

The game looks awsome. The cover mechanic definately helps the game out with its "If you stand out in the open, you're going to die" type thing, like in Road to Hill 30 and Earned in Blood. Should make the game a little less frustrating. Graphics look stunning too.

Maj_Wood
Maj_Wood

"battlefield delusion" now that's desterbing a bit

falconex2
falconex2

I'm tired of WW2 games lets get more modern! But the game do sound good but they should use it to more of a modern type game.

vaygr_nl
vaygr_nl

no you're right it sounds a bit weird xD but hey it still looks good i hate the other 2 games, because of the AI but i really look forward to this one

Djmaster214
Djmaster214

am i the only botherd by the thompson? the muzzle flash looks cartoony and the sound is horrible!

Regicide_UK
Regicide_UK

I LOVE BIA SOOOO MUCH!!!! AND YES MY CAPS LOCK KEY IS STUCK!!!!

doom-247
doom-247

looks cool and i like how the fence broke when it got shot

lilburtonboy748
lilburtonboy748

Hmm.....looks good. It looks like they are using the same cover mechanic as rainbow six vegas

niwom510
niwom510

........ if they make this game arcadey......

niwom510
niwom510

oh my god are they trying to make it gears of war?!?!!?!?! i want ALL fps.

Deacon-101st
Deacon-101st

Looks amzing If I get a Ps3 on my birth day I hope I will get that Game and Army of Two, Assassins creed. I would give it a Score 9.4

Robertwelsh2
Robertwelsh2

I hope this will continue the Brothers in Arms story line instead of totally ending it, I liked the gameplay in the previous games and thought that the stradegy was decent. At least it'll be better than Earned in Blood (Hated that game for the PS2).

Lemonsquare
Lemonsquare

I hope this one is better than the other ones. I didn't really enjoy the other BiA games, so hopefuly this one is much better! For I do believe it will be.

Dragotto
Dragotto

I tried watching this video three times now and all I watch is two Mr. Brooks trailers and a military propaganda video. And for that I am angry because I don't care to watch Kevin Costner or watch our tax dollars go towards a horrible propaganda video. What I came here to watch was a game play video of BIA: HH and instead I get nothing but B.S. Gamespot fix the video. Would a please help?

Holden1985
Holden1985

bobstos wrote Man, don't you think it's a bit early for game developers to have to "scale back slightly on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3"? I understand that console hardware will always be inferior to a $5,000 Gaming PC, but come on... Well no seeing as pc hardware is far more advanced and has been for a long time. 8800gtx a duo core and some good ram its would cost nowhere near $5,000 $1,500-2,000 and thats a lot. Consoles just do not have the power to look as good as pc's.

Squids-Ahoy
Squids-Ahoy

This game would have been interesting in 2002.

lysluk
lysluk

Action games are the oldest of any genre in gaming, and FPS are THE most popular of them all. So, no. We wont get sick of FPS, What is most people talking about Crysis? Oh rite....its also a FPS game. LOL.

net_xport
net_xport

Aren't you gamers sick of FPS by now..... i'll be going.

wookieeassassin
wookieeassassin

sounds really good, like the first two were. bigpimppapa.. yes I see there is an issue with playing a war game and making it turn into fun. but, when I play brothers in arms (moreso than other WWII games) I have great respect for the soldiers of WWII. Playing a game about it does not degrade my respect for them at all.

trane226
trane226

this game looks really good and if you look at trailer 5 you'll realize that there is fully destructible enviroments =D

bigpimppapa
bigpimppapa

All you young smart mouths pay Honor and Tribute to the men and women who fight in the real wars to protect our great Nation. These wars are not a video game real lives are lost so you can sit home in our well protected boarders, playing games. ALL HAIL THE AMERICAN HEROES OF TODAY AND YESTERDAY!!

MadGamerXFX
MadGamerXFX

It looks awesome! but i actually thought it would be more gore, like when he threw a grenade the krauts just got blown up in the air, but in the past two games when you throw a grenade the krauts looses a leg or two. Hope they fix the gore!

DeanCorleone
DeanCorleone

They have to many old school fighting games - its great to play them and all, but I'm no longer excited to see the next come out... "Oh - another WWII game? Great..." The cover system seems nice, along with items taking damage that you'll be hiding behind... but like I said... to many WWII games. Get something new going.

SaamZoo
SaamZoo

i think this will be a mint game, specially with these graphics. What has this world of technolgy come to? lol

bublinec
bublinec

Brothers in arms vs medal of honor vs call of duty which is best

alfa1987
alfa1987

Thought the first game was great, so il be keeping a eye on this one

punkp
punkp

DAMMIT the guy playin the demo is so FRIKIN annoying, i cant stand his voice

Beeker1
Beeker1

The video does not work it will not run

MoDollars
MoDollars

i've never tried any of the 'brothers in arms' series, but i hope to get this one because it's looking pretty good.

BOSSMAN415
BOSSMAN415

the new cover system looks like crap. ive always loved all the BIA games, they are the most realistic FPS out there, and now this third-person deal like rainbow six is a major downgrade. they think making it both first person and third person is gonna make it better-its not. KEEP BIA THE WAY IT SHOULD BE---A FPS.

SuperBOB92
SuperBOB92

I've alwaysed loved BIA. I cant wait

KFrog
KFrog

I like it. It's really looking good.

ag1002
ag1002

cant wait. the new cover system is looking awesome, I wonder why the author didn't mention any of that... sounded kinda biased in the beginning if you ask me

maxmax1234
maxmax1234

wasn't this game comming in april or somethin'

Riddle015
Riddle015

This game is gonna be tight it's got good graphics looks like a solid FPS

anamnawshad
anamnawshad

Brothers in Arms is one of the best FPS series out there although it's not just another FPS, it's very tactical....