Brothers In Arms; ‘I was moved to tears’
When the review copy of Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway came through my letterbox I was slightly apprehensive about playing it. My Granddad served in the 2nd World War and I am very aware of the way in which the war has affected people’s lives. I’ve stayed away from World War 2 games before because of this but I was determined to give this one a chance.
So was this the right thing to do, or should I have left well alone?
BIA:HH is a tactical squad based shooter where you take control of Staff Sergeant Matt Baker fighting to cut off the German advance into The Netherlands. The game follows Baker as he leads his squad through Operation Market Garden.
The relationships between Baker and his squad are at the heart of the story; it deals with the realities of war in a more understanding way than the gung-ho attitude of many video games. The plot was the part of the game that most impressed me. I really felt that the characters were real and I understood how they were feeling as they went through the traumas of war.
It made me feel as if the things my Granddad had been through were being remembered in an understanding way, and I was moved to tears by the end.
One thing that adds a lot to the story are the recon points you find throughout the game, these optional points show photos and documents from the true story of Operation Market Garden and add a depth which is worth taking the time to discover.
The game has an excellent tutorial which is incorporated into the main story mode. As you progress through the first level you begin to feel you’re really taking control of your squad. In the game you gain control of up to three squads, each one taking a different role. I found that I had to think very tactically about how to use each squad and often left my squads giving me covering fire while I went round and flanked the enemy. The control system is very well implemented and allows the player to switch between their teams with a click of the R3 button.
Although I enjoyed the game I actually found it quite difficult – even when thinking tactically. Restart points were usually quite close together so when I had to start again I didn’t have too far to go. Sometimes the squad AI didn’t act quite as I expected but the enemy AI was really good. My foes would hide to reload, move from cover to cover, and acted as I would expect them to act in that situation.
The graphics in the game are superb. Gearbox has put a lot of effort into the colour and lighting specifically. The characters faces are all distinct and individual, and their facial expressions openly display emotion. The musical score is fantastic; it fits in really well with the game. The sound effects for the guns and explosions are very realistic and the game is heard at its best on surround sound. It’s nice to hear your squad make comments and keeping you updated on their progress as you take down enemies together.
When playing online I found the game to be a bit slow compared to other first person shooters. It has several classes to choose from with a variety of weapons within each character. I didn’t find the online mode to be something that I would play regularly, and I think the game would have benefited from a co-operative online mode.
If you enjoy shooters and like to take the time to think tactically then this is a game that you should play. The story is fantastic and the small issues with AI are easily overcome by the excellent gameplay. Trophies have already been announced for Brothers in Arms: Hellâ€™s Highway so those trophy hunters among you are in for an interesting and absorbing story.
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