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Brothers In Arms – Hells Highway (PC)

Brothers In Arms – Hells Highway (PC)

It would be fair to say that we were disappointed with the console version of Brothers In Arms: Hells Highway which we recently reviewed. Today however we are taking a look at the PC version which hopefully has some improvements to the control system as well as the gameplay mechanic.

Gearbox’s latest Brothers In Arms game draws from the experiences of the 502nd Parachute Infantry, 101st Airborne Division from World War II.

The storyline is focused on Operation Market Garden which was a plan by Field Marshal Montgomery to finish the war before Christmas of 1944. The idea was to capture a highway through Holland by punching across enemy lines into the heart of Germany. It was the largest airborne invasion in history and while the plan was sound in theory the allies walked into a zone which was soon to be inhabited by the strongest Germany soldiers and tank divisions. This was perhaps the last significant Nazi victory of the war. Hell’s Highway is set against this rather unusual background and tells the tale of Staff Sergeant Matt Baker and his group as they attempt to survive the tasks in front of them. At times it feels as if you are watching the TV show Band Of Brothers, the scale is that epic.

Matt Baker is a very three dimensional character and Gearbox deserve special mention for their excellent storytelling and depth of emotional content. You easily sympathise with Baker as the game progresses and it is clear that the war is starting to affect his personality, so much so that his state of mind is called into question by both himself and his colleagues.  It is not often you see a FPS game handled in such a delicate and realistic manner.

Hells Highway tells a powerful story right from the first hours of Operation Market Garden to the end when the allies were forced to retreat, the story is very moving and I would be surprised if it doesn’t bring a tear to your eye at some point. You don’t need to have played the previous titles in the series to understand the game as you are treated to a series of flashbacks and cinematics, however clearly if you have then you can see just how the people in the game have matured and changed over the years.

As far as the game play system is concerned if you have played previous Brothers In Arms titles on the PC then the new title will prove immediately recognisable, experienced gamers will have no problems adjusting to the configuration. Obviously the PC version has full mouse support so the control method is vastly more intuitive than the console counterpart. Like before the game requires careful progress rather than mindless running into the action – a sure way to end up in a body bag. The game rewards digging into cover and carefully popping out to dispose of the enemy then returning into cover quickly.

You control individual teams and pin down threats with suppressing fire in various locations and then the idea is to flank the enemy while they are pinned to kill them. You have access to three kinds of teams in the game, the fire team are great for suppressing enemies, the assault teams are perfect for flanking attacks and lastly there are special weapons squads (such as bazooka crews) who are ideal for destroying groups of soldiers.

How well you do in this game is determined by how well you control the strengths of each of the teams and additionally this time around there is destructible cover which adds a new edge to the game play. For example if you take cover behind a barrel or a wooden fence, these can be destroyed by machine gun fire or blown up with grenades. This works exactly the same when the enemy take cover behind them, so if you have a powerful SMG a wooden fence proves to be little protection for your foes.

Unfortunately the AI is not great and your teammates often seemingly have a mind of their own when you give them orders. For example, many a time I ordered a group in behind cover and instead of doing so the crew decided that leaping the wall and running directly into enemy fire was a better idea. This has been an issue in previous Brothers In Arms titles, however it rears its ugly head once again. I was hoping this would have been eliminated by now with play testing, but sadly not.

Just like the console version, there are issues with your teammates mysteriously being able to warp in front of you if they get caught behind. This means you often instruct your team mates to follow and they end up stuck in a fence behind and then teleporting 20 foot in front of you, directly into enemy fire. It is extremely annoying and I was disappointed to see the same issue carrying over from the console version.

The enemy AI is equally shoddy from time to time, and although they generally put you under fire, there are occasions when they stand around like mannequins while you continually shoot them in the head. It is actions like this that somewhat ruin the realism of the game, especially when you see a half dead enemy soldier suddenly spring to life when you hit a trigger spot in the game level.

Equally disappointing is the fact that the glaring bugs on the console version have been ported over to the PC. It is very unrealistic to see your crew aiming south at an enemy position, only to see their gunfire point 90 degrees to the east to target another position. This could easily have been avoided with some minor tweaks to the engine during the testing phase.

Thankfully the graphics on the PC version have been dramatically improved. The fire effects are much superior and look more realistic and the texture quality throughout the game is much higher. I experienced the game on a Quad core Intel processor on Windows Vista with an Nvidia 280 GTX and I was able to play at 1920×1200 with all the eye candy maxed. The frame rates were in the 40-60 zone so no issues on that front.

The particle effects are also impressive and the game has support for PhsyX which I found a little difficult to notice to be perfectly honest. Shooting some objects resulted in the material “spraying” in the air but I am not actually sure if that was PhsyX or just nice programming from the developers. It would be fair to say that the PC version is graphically much enhanced over the console counterpart and anyone with a modern day gaming pc with a 4870 or 260 GTX will be more than happy with the visual appearance.

The sound is extremely impressive and the orchestral score adds masses of impact to the dramatic scenes. The voice acting is equally A list with talented actors handling the script perfectly. There are still some repeated and ludicrous phrases delivered during the game which begin to grate particularly the “why aren’t we moving!?” dialogue which appears to be random. It is rather annoying to hear this when you have just issued a move order and your troops are running across a field to a new position.

The multiplayer is an afterthought and doesn’t add any long term playability to the game. Sure you can have 20 players fighting in a combat environment but it just doesn’t really work as the only objective is to raise or lower flags at two locations in each map or take out the enemy squad. The visual detail also suffers which I can only surmise is to help keep the frame rate high with so many human characters on screen.

The PC version of Brothers In Arms: Hells Highway is an improvement over the console version but there are still glaring issues with the AI which go some way to ruin the overall experience. Much of the effort has gone into the presentation and cinematic storytelling rather than some of the game play elements which could have done with some more development and play testing time. The visuals with decent PC hardware are very impressive and massively improved over the lower resolution console versions and the audio is very impressive. If you have liked previous games in the series it comes recommended with caution – just be aware this is not in the same league of titles such as Call Of Duty 4.



The control system works well however the AI is poor and many times you end up frustrated.


Massively improved over the console version, very pretty.


Orchestral score is wonderful and the voice acting is top notch.

Once the game is beaten replay’s would be limited. Multiplayer is poor.
(not an average)

A decent title if you can live with the issues.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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