Oh look! Another first-person shooter video game that takes place in the World War II era. At first glance, Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway might look like a knock-off of Call of Duty, but there’s a twist with this franchise. While other military shooters focus on the combat, Brothers in Arms puts the focus on the troops, teamwork and the storytelling. Even with this difference to separate itself from the others, it somehow still hasn’t managed to be very well known in the gaming community.
The story for this game is more of an exploration with the relationship between the soldiers and the group you’re taking control of. Between both the use of cutscenes and the communication on the battlefield, you’ll end up developing a lingering attachment to the characters. The story will also frequently make callbacks to previous installments in the Brothers in Arms franchise and if you haven’t played the previous games like myself, it might leave you a little confused on the details.
In terms of gameplay, doing the traditional run-and-gun like other FPS games will not go over very well if tried to do that here. Brothers in Arms: HH is a lot more tactical in your approaching the enemy. Strategy is key with this game, which is a nice change of pace from your typical FPS, and it was something that I enjoyed during my playthrough. Commanding your crew and telling them where to specifically go while you flank your enemies will grant you success and let you continue on your journey. And doing this effectively controlling your squad to the task at hand will be your best case scenario. Doing this can become frustrating at times when you don’t land the location you want your squad to go to, and could take some getting used to. The enemy AI can also be hilarious at times on how bad they can be in their firing accuracy.
Even though Brothers in Arms has a big focus on the teamwork aspect, there are some times where you’ll be doing tasks solo. It’s kind of a weird when you’re used to going as a squad into battle scenarios. Although for me it was a nice way to keep things fresh when you had to do some solo missions/objectives. Difficulty-wise it’s not that bad when going alone, especially when you’re used to having a squad help you out. You’ll still be able to hold your own and taking on the enemy.
I think where the game excels it’s in the sound design. The way the sounds are handled in the game lend to the realism and really put you in the action that’s taking place around you. The soundtrack is amazing as well and often times feels movie level quality. The sound effects of the different guns are on point, and each gun sounds noticeably different. Everything sounds so realistic, to the bullets whizzing by your head all the way to how things break and destruct from your enemies bullets.
Graphically, it’s not too bad, especially when you consider that you’re playing a game from 2008. While it does not live up to more recent games, it can hold its own. Character models don’t look that bad, but sometimes can take a while to load in. As you venture through the game you’ll notice on how much detail was paid to in the environments and they do look great–from a distance. Up close though it is easy to notice how some textures look and they don’t look that great. The slow-motion effects are great though and it is fun seeing an enemy blow up in a slower pace. Although, it can become repetitive as it does happen a lot as you progress through the game.
Squad-based tactics are a welcome change into the FPS genre and is a refreshing change to experience in Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway. I would consider this a nice little gem that most people probably didn’t experience in the early years of the Xbox 360. The good-looking landscapes of the levels add to the experience and the cinematic techniques sprinkled throughout all help to the great experience of the game.
- Nice integration of squad-based tactics and control
- Vibrant and detailed landscapes
- Top-notch sound design
- Story is too “past event” heavy and can lead to confusion
- Character model details can load in slow
- Bland textures when up close on objects