previews\ Jul 11, 2007 at 8:00 pm

Brothers in Arms Hell

E3 2007 Preview

Ubisoft’s Brothers in Arms franchise has become a staple in the WWII genre by offering a “worm’s eye” view of the conflict in a way that no other shooter has. Instead of putting you as a nameless/faceless “gun” in the middle of famous battles from the war like other franchises, BIA gives you the soldier’s experience realistically, be it while battling personal demons and guilt or protecting your squadmates on the field and putting their lives before anything else.

Now the series is gearing up to make the leap to the next-gen with Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway. This year’s E3 marked GameZone’s first look at the current build of Hell’s Highway in action, and it showcased a lot of promise. The great squad-based tactical elements have been amplified, and the graphics have received a boost thanks to the high-def capabilities of the latest batch of consoles and the PC.

Hell’s Highway again puts the player in the boots of Matt Baker, who is coming to grips with bring a squad leader, a position that was thrust upon him due to the unpredictable nature of war. Baker feels guilt for losing some of his men on the field (flashbacks to previous entries in the franchise occur frequently in Hell’s Highway’s cutscenes). For Baker, surviving and doing well in battle is not all about duty, but about the other guys on the field that you have a bond with and must protect. It’s also interesting to note that anyone over the rank of Lieutenant in Hell’s Highway is based on an actual person in the war.

Operation: Marketgarden serves as the backdrop for Hell’s Highway. This campaign serves as a pretty interesting setting, considering that it marked a substantial loss for the Allied side. The build showcased at E3 took place at the village of Son, Holland, and helped to display the overall feel of the gameplay. You could order your men around using a context sensitive system, enter automatically into stealth or combat postures depending on the situation, and press up against cover like in Rainbow Six: Vegas (where the game will go into a third-person mode).

One interesting feature in the game is that instead of getting shot and “recharging”, you will either find yourself in high risk or low risk situations. If the screen begins to go red, that doesn’t mean that you’ve been shot, but rather that you’ve almost been hit by some near misses and need to seek cover. Otherwise, it’s lights out.

Graphically, the game will feature some great destructible cover elements, like wooden barrels that splinter off and break where they are shot, wagons that will fall off of their wheels and tumble to the ground, and fence planks that will bust off where they are shot. The game will also go into slow-motion when you do something of note, like chuck a grenade into a crowd of enemies.

Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway is looking like a great entry to the series that truly will bump the franchise up to a true next-gen contender. It is currently scheduled for release this holiday season.

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