Friday, September 26, 2008

Now Playing: Brothers in Arms - Hell's Highway

The game I'm currently playing is Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway. I haven't tackled an FPS in a very, very long while, and my expectations for this game were quite low. It's set in World War II again (and there sure are a lot of games out there with that setting) so I wasn't expecting to be so impressed.

A few missions in, a lot of things struck me about the single-player mode:

- The presentation is very, very cinematic. I didn't play the older BIA games at length so it was a bit difficult for me to understand sometimes what the characters were talking about [they reference the past games a LOT] ....but the storytelling style that the developers employed for the cutscenes make watching them feel very engrossing. I guess this must have been the best way for the developers to differentiate their game from the other WWII shooters out there.

- A big part of the single player game involves giving out orders to specialized squads of troops (in the first few missions I've had an Assault team and a Bazooka team to lead through the campaign). So far I thought that this was the most unique and enjoyable aspect of the game. The A.I. is very smart and for the most part they behave very convincingly and realistically. You really have to develop a good strategy so that your men don't get killed....I never found out if there's a consequence to having teams die on me because most of the time I'd restart from a checkpoint if at least one soldier died. That said, this is another thing that makes Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway quite a unique World War II shooter. In a way, it slows down the pacing of the game and makes it a bit more cerebral than other WWII games. But I didn't see the slower pace as a bad thing; not only do you have to have good shooting reflexes, you also have to think fast and use all the available resources you have in the right way.

- After a few missions, I checked out the 'chapter select' in the game and looked at how many levels there seems there's quite a lot, and each mission is very lengthy with unique objectives and many ways to go about completing them.

- One other cool thing about the game is the 'Action Camera', which zooms in on the action when you execute a good strategy or a good kill. I got a load of achievements thanks to this feature, and it's really nice when the action camera suddenly just slows down the action. It makes it feel all the more satisfying to play the game the 'right' way (the wrong way would probably be to rush in, Rambo-style, and kill everything yourself. Maybe it's possible to play like that but it would ruin the authenticity of the whole experience).

Brothers In Arms: Hell's Highway seems like a game that could get underappreciated because it's being released during a time when a lot of other high profile releases are about to come out in the market. It's a game that got delayed a lot of times and got a lot of flak for it from the gaming press. I can see why the game was delayed so much....there's a lot of good A.I. scripting in there. It goes a long way towards providing a seamless experience in the game. The fact that I'm not struggling to give orders to my troops in the game is probably the best benefit of the game's extended development time.

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