Players: 1-12
Price: $59.99
Platform(s): Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: Ubisoft
ESRB: Pending
Website: Hell’s Highway
Release Date: August 2008

Brothers In Arms: Hell’s Highway is the latest in Gearbox Software’s popular WWII series. If you’ve played a BiA game before, then you know what to expect. This is the game that perfected the squad control mechanic for shooters, and even though other titles have come out to try and claim that title, BiA: Hell’s Highway is going to decisively prove that when it comes to this style of warfare…there’s only one king. With a new graphics engine (which will include some footage from previous games rendered in the new engine to give you a reminder before the new saga starts) and cover system, there’s plenty of new hotness to go around.

What Brothers In Arms has been able to do is provide an authentic feeling to the combat in the field. You must use strategy in order to succeed. Your chances of plowing through as if it were a simple shooter diminishes your survival rate, much like in real life. So if you need to get somewhere it’s always a good move to use suppressive fire and flanking maneuvers. Call of Duty, by contrast, has you take on emotionally charged missions that keep you involved in the story and gameplay. It’s a cinematic experience, whereas BiA is more akin to a reenactment. CoD is Saving Private Ryan, and BiA is Band of Brothers. Very similar stories, but the feel of each is distinct.

You’ll team up with Matt Baker, Joe Hartsock and the 101st Airborne Division in Operation Market Garden. The squad will be fighting to open Hell’s Highway, and end the war. The characters and environment are simply amazing to look at. And while the game isn’t intent on grossing anyone out, there will be flying pieces coming from your enemies. Rather than over the top slasher gore, the effect is disturbingly real. But in a good – hey war is a horrible ordeal – kind of way.

In addition to the pretty graphics will be some gameplay changes. The times have changed since Road to Hill 30, and people expect to run and hide more. Gearbox has included both features in the game, but be careful of where you take cover. That milk crate may have worked five years ago, but now it’ll be ripped to shreds and leave you exposed. So keep an eye out for proper cover, and remember you have squadmates to help you out when it’s needed. The game is also able to allow you to go in with guns blazing, which gives me a great deal of pause. If you are indeed able to play the game in this style with any modicum of success, then how difficult will Hell’s Highway be? Serious shooter fans may want to default to a harder difficulty level.

Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway will be coming out this August for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.

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