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Brothers in Arms: Hells' Highway is Ubisoft's and Gearbox's third title in this popular WWII-based video game, with outstanding first-person action combined with the best squad mechanics in the genre, Hell's Highway takes you on a journey through an immersive adrenalin-filled world that will have you ducking for cover and looking for help from the skies.
Matt Baker and the boys of the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment of the famed American 101st Airborne Division "The Screaming Eagles" are being dropped into Holland as part of the overly-ambitious and ultimately doomed allied plan "Operation Market Garden". Designed and conceived by British General Montgomery to shorten the war by capturing and holding key bridges behind enemy lines until allied armoured forces can fight their way in to relieve them, Unfortunately, the plan failed to correctly assess German fighting strength in Holland, the inherent problems involved in airborne operations at the time and the logistics problems of keeping forces supplied and occupying large areas of occupied territory with very few men.
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The best parts
Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway is fun and addictive first-person combat combined with entertaining and time-consuming squad level mechanics that challenges you to stay alive in an immersive environment of hot metal and flying-death.
The vibrant and detailed environments for the most part combine beautifully with the crisp and clear sound effects that will have you ducking your head and flinching as you hear a bullet go screaming past your ear.
The story was very well written; at times I could feel myself feeling deeply about the human aspects of men in battle, and the ultimate effects of the traumatic events they lived through during the war.
The camera angles put you right in the action, which hypes up the fun and keeps the adrenalin flowing.
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The parts that need improvement
The story in Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway can fail to have the desired effect on the game and gamer if they haven't played the two earlier titles in this series, even confusing the gamer and taking away from the immersive effect of the whole package.
The same general bugs, hiccups, and frame-rate issues still exist from the earlier titles, which is a head-shaking problem, you'd think at least a few of these problems would have been fixed. The flat unimpressive 2D grass and flowers loose their texture at times and the flame and fire scenes look like 2D grafted onto 3D. Slowdowns and frame-rate problems did occur during many of the cut scenes and the grain filter on the graphics engine appears to be below standards, giving many objects an unnatural sheen and shadows and dark areas a pixelated look.
The multiplayer was a disappointment; it feels like it was tacked onto the game as an extra that everybody was expecting to see. The graphics aren't any better in this mode and there were only two modes; raise the flag in an area and control it and destroy the enemy.
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The game grahics
Despite the same problems still existing in the graphical presentation from the earlier titles, Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway is still one of the most impressive first-person action titles I have ever played, but the PS3 version does suffer next to the PC version in many areas of the visual appeal and entertainment value.
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Sounds in the game
The sound track in Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway sounds like it came straight from the movies, with majestic orchestrated pieces that heighten the dramatic moments and fill the battle scenes with energy and entertainment.
The voice acting was good, all-though they did use the same lines over and over occasionally, which you will start to notice and when you do, obviously, it will take you out of the moment and the immersive effect of the game.
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The story line
The story line starts as the boys are getting ready to be dropped into Holland; the opening scenes introduce you to the men whose lives you will be responsible for in the coming battle as you reflect on past events and fallen comrades. The story takes you from the first hours of the campaign through to the ninth and final day when the allies were forced to retreat.
During play the game will flashback using cut scenes to fill in you in on facts from the previous titles as Baker spends a lot of time in reflection about lost comrades and the ultimate fate of new arrivals to the party; at times it almost seems like Baker is suffering from battle-fatigue or shell shock. The story does have great comic and dramatic moments with emotional clarity and does evoke the reality of war, as triumph and tragedy walk hand in hand.
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The battle scenes can be very sensually filling, delving your mind in complex battles requiring you to incorporate strategy and tactics, and doing a good job of making many points of the experience as realistic as the current technology allows. The feeling of power as you take out a battlefield of German troops can fill you with adrenalin and give you a god complex with its immensity.
The variety of weapons and vehicles available, outstanding combat mechanics, and tactics and strategies involved combine well to keep the entertainment fresh through all the missions. The combination of well-designed single-player action combined with squad level controls give this series an element that could successfully be used in many other genres and as improvements are made is sure to be an integral part of games of the future. You even go it alone in some missions, requiring you to shoot straight and make proper use of cover, in a variety of situations and environments.
The single player experience is excellent, providing everything we have come to expect in this series, but doesn't really add anything new to the entertainment level. There's a multiplayer option that has a number of maps that support up to 20 players, two teams can face off in capture-the-territory or destroy the other team scenarios. The unlockable "authentic reality" mode is the most challenging mode in the game; it removes all the heads-up displays, and is the best mode to view the beautiful graphics.
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The final score
Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway for the PS3 isn't quite as good as the PC version on a good machine, but then games have often through the years been better when done properly on a powerful computer. Certainly, issues still exist that were present in the two earlier games in the series, but then these games were produced and developed over a very short term compared to many games that aren't nearly as well done, so I still want to see what Ubisoft and Gearbox come up with in the future for Baker and the boys. If you're looking to spend a little time in a different world by immersing your senses in a well designed experience then Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway will fill the order.