Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hell's Highway Review

It's worth mentioning that just the fact that I am getting around to writing about a game like this means I enjoyed it. I'm awful proud of myself for finally 'finishing' a triple A title this year. Let's get started:

I'm going to throw out the dreaded 'mix bag' cliche here. After all it is WWII so it is tough to look at is strictly as a game. Gearbox is still going strong with a coherent story with the same set of characters as in previous games. Admittedly though, I haven't played one since the first, but it was refreshing to see Matt Baker and team back. I'm giving the game a 4 almost solely based on the attempt Gearbox made a creating a story. An 'A' for effort kind of thing. Maybe I want it to be better then it is? Regardless, see Matt Baker's decent into madness is fresh and different. However, the 'cut scenes' are edited choppy and the writers choose to bounce back and forth in time more then they should have. Combine that with Baker's 'visions' and it gets confusing. No doubt a 2nd playthrough would help that though. Anyway, a story is there and it is good.

BiA has wonderful gameplay devices that I enjoy. The cover system used is good and the level set pieces are very well done. There are plenty of different ways to complete an objective. I've read other reviews that liken it to 'whack a mole' gameplay. I see it, but don't agree in simplifying it down to that. I like the use of the map screen and really enjoy commanding a couple squads around the battlefield. Controls are simple and the team responds to your orders.

Excellent full usage of HD. Menus are fast and clean, the opening menu screen is very well done. In game design is really well done, simple and uncluttered. I think it looks great. Cut scenes go from 'jaw dropping' to 'wow, they mailed this in'. Personally, I enjoyed the daytime battles but lots of reviews prefer the game better when it goes to night which just proves that most of them are entertained by flickering lights. The game is very impressive during the night portion of the game, but I wouldn't say it is much better. Interiors of buildings could have been done better. Other then a few odd moments the game looks fabulous.

Voice work is some of the best I have heard in a while. Environmental sounds like gunfire and explosions are as well. Towards the end of the game, I was hunkered down right outside a building when I realized that my teams voices echoed while shouting inside the building. Well done. Music is good. The game may be too ambitious for what the soundtrack accomplishes though.

I already covered this a bit up in objectives, but I say it again. I'm a sucker for the way the this game works. Command squads around a map to complete the mission. Good stuff. That said, there are a handful of 'Tank' missions. Meaning they plop you in the belly of a 'steel beast' to wreak havoc. It is fun, but it's like a different game. I'm also laughing as I write this because there is a strange tangent in the story where you try and save a kid while atop a building sniping off Germans. So, yes... there is a 'sniper level' hahaha.

I got fairly involved in Baker's story. I wanted to know what was driving him insane and in the end it pays off pretty well. I was also impacted by what was going on with Hartstock. But you'll have to play the game for those moments because they are the best in the game. Part of the game touches on something rarely done well in video games... the opposite sex. Not with any of the main characters but you will find your heart aflutter when you see one of your team chase after a pretty girl into a burning city. One of the best parts in the game, actually one of the best things I've seen in a game ever. I found myself motivated a great deal and I gave more purpose to what I was doing. I wanted to save them.

It is what it is. A WWII game and only one part of a much bigger story.

The game is a part of a series, I think the best is yet to come.

I enjoyed the game. I'm writing about it. Again, a triple A title delivers for me! yay!

I purchased the 'Limited Edition' version. Very Band of Brothers. Giant, thick box that is deserving of the game inside. Now, the action figure and comic inside? Maybe not. But it works well. You're always going to get extra points for special packaging with me. Artwork is great. I like the simple duotone red sky with the soldier silhouettes.


Excellent game well worth anyones time. I've touched on some of the better moments of the game already, but I'll say again that approaching a burning city from the outskirts and marching straight into it is fantastic.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mark Goes For a Swim

That's Mark... the rules: 1. Be careful which raft you get back on. 2. Hold on to your paddle.

Not just a day on The River.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Hells Bells

Don't trust the lukewarm reviews of Brothers in Arms: Hells Highway. It is a great game. Its the kind of game you think about at work and want to get home to play it kind of thing. Is it as silky smooth as Call of Duty IV? no. Does it have the same war game mystic of Ghost Recon? nah. Does it have enough of both and and engaging story to boot? Yes. The guys down at Gearbox are proving that the 'Band of Brothers' theme is more then just something to piggy back on. They are sticking with it and have created a fantastic game that is balanced. What is balanced you say? Well... it means problems and challenges are achievable and solvable first go round. Not the 20th trial and error go round and after 5 Dundee Wheat Beers and 2 god awful Bacardi Mojitos that have been sitting in the fridge for a month. Maybe the game has just hit my sweet spot, but regardless... I like it. In fact so much that I don't need to dig into my Mojitos.

That's sayin' something.