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December 18, 2013

Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway Full Review



Band of Brothers: The Lost Episode.



Intro:


After becoming a fan of the series in Road to Hill 30, I decided to skip straight ahead to the game I was the most interested in of the three: Hell's Highway. My expectations were a tad bit high, which I always try to avoid since high expectations always lead to disappointment.

But hey, what's life without getting your hopes up! Heh, life....

Basic Plot:

We step back into the boots of Matt Baker as his squad heads into the one of the biggest Allied misfires in World War 2: Operation Market Garden. The already unfair odds are hampered by Baker's PTSD, and several surprising revelations come to light.

Release Date: September 2008.

Developer: Gearbox Software.

Publisher: Ubisoft.

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows.

Genre: Tactical Shooter.

Reviewed By: Kyle van Rensburg.

Hit the jump for more!

Areas of Concern:

Violence:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

--Several soldiers are gunned down during the game; we see lots of blood sprays, staining the environment and screen, with cries of pain being heard as soldiers fall to the ground. In some sequences, the game goes into slow-motion and shows the bullet impacting the enemy, staining their bodies with blood and at times, their faces are made unrecognizable by gore stains.

-Stray sheep can also be shot, with blood spraying and the animal slumping to the ground, but this is optional. (There you go, gamers. Let the massacre begin! Here, sheepy, sheepy!)

--Explosions are featured extensively in the game, with tanks, planes, buildings and grenades blowing up with large blasts being shown. 

-Soldiers are torn apart by explosions, with limbs and heads partially blown off and dropping to the ground. The preceding is shown in slow-motion at certain sequences.

--We see the corpses of fallen soldiers several times, with bloody bullet holes over their bodies and blood stains and pools beneath them.

-We briefly see a dead soldier lying on the ground, his bloody entrails pouring out beneath him. This is very brief.

--A man's finger is blown off in slow-motion; we see it hang limply from his finger as blood sprays out in random intervals.

--An innocent woman is gunned down; we hear her scream and blood sprays as she gets shot. She lies on the ground afterwards, bloody bullet holes scarring her dress.

-In one scene, a man drags a woman into a barn. When your character runs into the barn, he looks up and sees the same woman hanging dead, her head in a noose.

--A man runs out of a room, and we see that he is on fire. He falls on the ground, groaning in pain, and he eventually dies. We see that his face is charred and dark afterwards. 

--(Possible Spoilers) We see the bloodstained body of a dead boy.

Sex/Nudity:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

--A soldier falls to the ground after an explosion, and as an ally helps him up, he jokes that the soldier spends more time on his back than another soldier's sister.

Language:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

Frequent Uses of F**k, S**t, D**k, Pr**k, A*s, B**ch, B**t**d, P**s, C**p, H**l, and D**n. English swear words are also used: B**l**ks, B**ger, and W**ker.

--God and Jesus' names are used in vain.

Spiritual Content:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

--List of symbols:

-Five point star (Commonly associated with Satanism, but also a pretty standard Military symbol).

-Heart (Sexual symbol).

-Cross/Crucifix (Symbol of Death, and also a huge idol in the church today).

-Skulls (Cookies).

--Several references implying that a certain pistol belonging to a soldier is "cursed".

--A man is implied to be speaking to God when he says "you can't have him!" in reference to a soldier possibly dying.

Drugs/Alcohol/Smoking:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

--Cigarette smoking is portrayed by soldiers.

--We see the outside of a bar, with "Lager Bier (Beer)" poster being shown.

Scary Stuff:

--We see several startling flashes of dead people and intense situations.

Morality:

Abysmal Bad So-so Okay Good Very Good

Your character and his allies are shown to be upstanding, heroic, but flawed as well. The flaws the soldiers have are either caring too much, lying to protect other soldiers or forsaking each other as friends because of various reasons.

Review of Game:


Brother's In Arms: Hell's Highway promises to be another fulfilling and emotional instalment in the series. Does it succeed? Let's find out...

Straight off the bat, there are a couple of changes made to the core gameplay that I want to address. The first of which, is the Rainbow Six Vegas style cover system. In previous games, you would simply crouch behind cover and stand up, shoot, crouch back behind cover, stand up, shoot some more, etc.

In order to streamline this process, Gearbox introduced a cover system in which the camera switches to the third-person, as seen above. The change arguably breaks the immersion of the game, and it actually makes it far easier.

I ran through several levels using my allies very superficially, because of how simple it was to do things on your own. The cover system allows you to aim in a way that would not have been possible if the more realistic cover system from the original game was used, and thus, the need for your allies is gone.


Now, before I go further, I want to note that this is the ONLY aspect of the game which really irks me. The rest of the game is highly enjoyable, if standard. In fact, it would have been boring if not for the most important aspect in a Brothers In Arms game---The story.

The Brothers in Arms series has always been more sensitive than it's counterparts in the shooter world. The year Hell's Highway was released, 2008, also saw the release of Call of Duty: World at War and Battlefield Bad Company 1, two very bombastic shooters who preferred to shoot first and ask questions later.

Brothers in Arms takes the more subdued approach, with a quieter story and atmosphere. In fact, there's almost no music in the game, except for cinematics or in key moments. This helps in getting you immersed in the game, for the most part (barring the cover system).

The story and characters are all excellently written, with Gearbox taking the story up a notch from it's predecessors, with stress of war bearing down on Sergeant Matt Baker, namely because of a gut-wrenching scene in Road to Hill 30.

Baker's character progression and declining sanity kept me playing in spite of the game's pretty standard mechanics. I don't want to spoil anything, but I will sum it up: The story holds the game together and if you've ever watched Band of Brothers, this will be your cup of tea. For sure.

Quality Verdict: B+ (Great)

While not the quiet gem that was Road to Hill 30, Hell's Highway does a great job of continuing the story in an emotional and satisfying manner---even if the gameplay is fairly standard.


Conclusion:

I'll recant what I said in my Road to Hill 30 Review: The game is a very tasteful, respectful and emotional tribute to the veterans who fought in World War 2. While some will take issue with the strong language, the violence is justified by context.

No problems here, folks! If you're old enough, I'll say go for it. It's a great story, which deserves a lot more attention.

Content Verdict: 16+


For Bloody Violence (Justified by Context) and Strong Language.


Outro:


That's a wrap! I hope you guys enjoyed the review. I'll be back next week with a Content Rundown of Killzone Shadow Fall. See you then!

Oh, and before I forget: January will see five posts a week, for the first time in the blog's history. It's going to be a big year for us!

Writer Bio:


Kyle van Rensburg is the Editor-in-Chief of KVR Gaming. He likes cookies.

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