After an E3 showing two years ago that almost stole the show, we’ve waited… and waited… and waited for Brothers in Arms 3 to finally emerge from behind cover. So, with the final mission completed, is it worth another foray into the killing fields of WW2? Put simply: just about. It shines when the screen is rammed with tens of dying soldiers and you’re demonstrating your war qualities with all manner of flanking and suppressing techniques. But for all the trumpeting about destructible environments, new cover mechanics and advanced AI, Hell’s Highway – disappointingly – feels very much like a BiA 1.5.
Every so often Baker will be temporarily forced to go it alone – and it’s here where the rather stale shooting engine is highlighted. Even worse, for every progression, there’s seemingly a regression. We love the new bazooka crew; their ability to obliterate sniper nests or make short work of any Nazis behind cover never fails to make us whoop with glee. But why has Baker’s tank detachment not only been retired, but – even worse – now been reduced to awful, painfully basic stand-alone shoot-’em-up missions? It’s a terrible design decision.
Similarly, the choice to ramp up the gore to Soldier of Fortune-rivalling levels is mystifying. While we’ll admit to a sly chortle as an unfortunate Nazi is torn in two – intestines looping out, forearm detaching from elbow and head exploding to mush – it sits massively uncomfortably with the otherwise wonderfully told, pathos-packed story of humanity and friendship during WW2. Grandpa wouldn’t be pleased. Hell’s Highway still offers something unique in the pantheon of identikit first-person shooters, and fans of the series will welcome it with open arms. Us? We’re fans, but just a bit disappointed all those delays didn’t result in something truly revolutionary.
Sep 24, 2008