Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway
For: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Genre: Action, Shooter, Tactical, Warfare
ESRB Rating: Mature (17+)
Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway
Once you get past the clichéd premise, you find that shooting isn't actually the main attraction of Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway. Shooting is at the top of the to-do list, sure, but there's much more to it, too.
At heart, Hell's Highway is a game of warfare tactics. Whereas many war-themed first-person shooters simply have you playing as either a lowly grunt earning his stripes or a superhuman one-man-army, busting down doors and killing bad guys on a quest from A to B, here, as with previous Brothers in Arms games, you're a door killing, bad-guy-busting man of war who's also in command of various squads of soldiers that you use as the means to accomplish those ends.
As such, your job is not so much a series of linear rampages through epic, scripted sequences, but instead at play in a big, sprawling chunk of real estate -- a surprisingly vibrant and colorful French countryside --, ordering your assault team (using the left trigger to direct them and issue attack orders) to provide suppression fire while your bazooka team moves into cover and takes out a machine gunner in a bell tower, things like that.
Granted, you still have to do most of the running and gunning down of key targets (your AI buddies are great at providing cover fire, not so great at taking out enemies behind cover; that's your job, obviously), but it plays out much more like a good war movie in which you're both the director and the star of the show. This is further facilitated by the ability to switch into the third-person perspective to better manipulate the "big picture," pardon the pun. At that point, mind you, the overlay menus do pop the illusion as they're a little cumbersome, but oh well.
Fortunately, Hell's Highway also plays a little slower than you might be used to, with computer controlled enemies actually going about their business no matter when you might happen upon them (as opposed to sitting at the top of a staircase waiting for your arrival, seemingly all their life), then reacting intelligently, taking cover and/or rallying the troops.
As for the actual story being told in this epic microcosm of The Big One, well, good luck trying to follow it. The Hell's Highway tale is told in a convoluted series of flashbacks that serve to flesh out the same story told from other angles in the previous two Brother's in Arms games. If you haven't played those or simply can't remember what happened, well, just sit back and enjoy the narrative's amazing cinematics, nod and smile knowingly. It doesn't actually matter.
As a somewhat cerebral, more methodized take on first-person-shooters, Hell's Highway also makes for a meatier, online multiplayer game that seems to be attracting players more mature than your average teen-angst-addled, comp-courageous shooters and showboaters, which is nice.
Either way, though occasionally flawed and sometimes unwieldy, Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway is certainly a solid squad-based shooter, and the fact that there aren't that many of this sub-genre shooter ilk out there makes it a tantalizing stray form the norm.
Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway TIP: In the Options menu of Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway, enter 4V35JZHQD6 as a code to activate a Kilroy detector, which alerts you when a Kilroy (collectable goody) is nearby.