Saturday 13 May 2006
We love Brothers in Arms, but your strategic options have always been limited by the restrictions of current-gen tech. So when we sat down with Brothers in Arms Hell's Highway, the next-gen evolution of Ubisoft's tactical squad-command series, we wanted more of everything. More options, more room to manoeuvre, and - of course - more action. And we got it.
By harnessing the power of next-gen gaming, Hell's Highway is creating a believable and organic world. It's not exactly open-ended - developer Gearbox says it wasn't the plan to create a sand-box game - but the scope of the environments crank the experience all the way up to 11, offering far more challenges and opportunities than ever before.
The demo we were shown is set in the Dutch town of Eindhoven during Operation Market Garden, the Allied army's doomed attempt to forge a path of bridges into the heart of Germany. Sgt Matt Baker stands in a toy shop, used as headquarters for his squad. As the squad began to gather together we caught snippets of well crafted dialogue, as the soldiers discuss everything from the local village girls to reports of Germans patrols nearby.
The atmosphere is so solid that - even though we knew it must be coming - when a mortar shell exploded in the street outside we jumped out of our seat. Embarrassing for us, perhaps, but a true example of how utterly engrossing Hell's Highway is. As they stumbled from the ruined building, one of Baker's team looked at his arm in horror. "Baker, we're going to have to get that out," he says, nodding at the shard of glass protruding from the sergeant's limb.
You really get a sense of being in the world; connected to it. When Baker vaulted over a wall later on we could see his hand gripping the stone. Later in the level, one of Baker's men actually whispered, "How's the arm holding up?" Hell's Highway is swimming in cool little touches like these.