When Brothers In Arms: Hell’s Highway looks more like Soldier of Fortune than it does Medal of Honor, you know that it’s not your typical WWII shooter. Our first act was to hurl a grenade that blew one man into three: eviscerating his mid-section and blasting off his left leg at the knee. Once we’d thrown the grenade, the game decided that we weren’t in any immediate danger, so it gave us a close-up of the explosion. In slow motion we could make out every little detail, including the bones protruding from each stump.
We’ve been used to this kind of violence for a long time now, but never in a WWII game - a time period that’s always been handled with some delicacy. However, Gearbox insisted it wasn’t all about the violence (although did admit that these sequences were both “really cool” and “a lot of fun”) when we caught up with them for a hands-on with the near-finished game.
“Our main philosophy is twofold,” Gearbox co-founder and president Randy Pitchford said. “First of all it’s about the authenticity, and secondly we want to focus on squad combat.”
Credit to them, as after the first two levels it’s abundantly clear that the effort’s paid off. Explosions and machine-gun fire tear people apart much like they would in real life, and enemies will react to suppression fire by using cover, or if they spot a flanking maneuver, by retreating to safer ground. Weaker cover will crumple under heavy fire, so it’s advisable to seek out metal items rather than wooden ones, although there isn’t much that will hold firm against a direct hit from the awesome bazooka. Along with grenades, they’re a great way of flushing enemies out into the open. In the first level we lobbed an explosive through a window and the blast destroyed a corner of the building - allowing us to pick off the soldiers inside with ease.