Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway, Mini-Review

Posted by Alex Jordan on

I left my first Christmas purchase in my dust-strewn wake, so let's continue to move quickly.

The gameplay is good but not great. The suppress-and-flank mechanics of the first game haven't been changed significantly, and the addition of bazooka squads and machinegun squads don't really add up to much. The core mechanics aren't actually put to any really interesting use until the very last series of missions, where you get to control three full squads and solve elaborate field problems. They actually got rid of the part in the first game where you could give tanks orders... instead, you control a tank yourself, which is just as insipid as it was in every other Goddamn World War II game.

The graphics range from very good to pretty mediocre. Sunny Holland countrysides look amazing, whereas rainy Holland villages look like crap. The main character looks amazing, but some of his squadmates look like they escaped from games in 2003. Also, with only one or two exceptions? The voice acting is terribad. I know Gearbox has games with good voice acting... so why does it sound like they asked their programmers to moonlight as voice actors and pretend to be this close to reaching puberty?

The plot is hamfisted, to say the least. Why are we muddying up the life-and-death drama of Operation Market Garden with all this existential angst about a cursed pistol? What supporting character in their right mind would sacrifice their life for a girl he met 2 seconds earlier and only spent 1 of those seconds engaging? Why do characters hate other characters for things neither one of them are responsible for? Needless to say, the crappy voice acting doesn't improve matters. Fortunately, by the end of the game - the very end of the game - the characters are showing some degree of growth and manage to credibly deliver a few bits of good writing. Better late than never, hey?

Oh, and did the developers run out of time or funding or something? The game has pretty much no difficulty arc and the last mission doesn't even involve the main character! Things just kind of end.

In summary: very glad I spent $5 on this. Just the right amount for a semi-decent WWII shooter than ranges from whelming to underwhelming.

Next up: Amnesia and me getting the shit scared out of me every three seconds.