Developer: Gearbox Software
Release Date: 9/23/2008
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The Good: Engaging story, great audio/visual package, squad based gameplay keeps it separated from the rest, decent length
The Bad: Still WWII…, relies too much on knowing other BiA games, pointless slow-mo cams, must…be…patient…
I never really liked BiA back when they first came out because 1. I didn’t have a PC that could run it or an Xbox. 2. I preferred the run & gun aspect like in Medal of Honor and Call of Duty, and 3. I was too impatient back then for the tactical gameplay. I have changed since then and am not an impatient little teenager with raging testosterone. I have picked up Hell’s Highway expecting a bit of a mix and thankfully there was. BiA has been known for its tactical squad command gameplay with great AI, a great non-fictional story around the fictional WWII setting, and that’s here, but it’s even better.
The story goes a little something like this: You are Baker who goes through an emotional roller coaster ride with his squad mates and you really feel what the soldiers are feeling…and even tear jerking at the end. The only problem is that you have to have played previous BiA games to fully understand the story from the beginning. The story does one of those looping plot twists where it starts out at the end and goes 3 days back, then goes forward after that. The plot holes are jerking when they are filled and you really get pulled into the story. As far as I know, this is the only WWII story like this. I guess you can say this is my favorite WWII game story wise and it makes me want to pick up the other two original Xbox games.
What really counts though is the game play in one of these types of games right? Well, the impatient should steer clear because you CAN NOT, I repeat, CAN NOT run out and go Rambo and their Kraut @$$es. You WILL be shot down almost instantly, and this is not good if you want to restart constantly (and experience the almost too long time). You have to position your squad mates around the various cover on the battlefield and slowly have them pin the enemies down so you can go around and flank them with…whatever you want, no you can’t melee in the game so that’s out…sorry only Call of Duty 3 lets you do that. Each batch of enemies has a red circle above them and when it’s red they can blow your beehiney apart if you run out, but if you command your squad mates to suppress them with fire it will turn gray and you can run out…for a few seconds. The game gives you plenty of ammo so don’t worry about wasting shots. I mainly used single shot rifles since head shots were mostly needed due to enemies taking cover. That’s what also makes the AI so great, so say for instance you run up to the cover the enemy is behind they’ll run away and hide somewhere else. Throw a grenade and they’ll boogie on out of there even if they’re on a Flak 88!
Now you can command four types of squads: Bazooka, Base Fire, Assault, and MG. Go figure on what those all do, but they are all essential to keep you alive. Another thing that makes you REALLY think is that if you send your squad out in open fire they’ll die to (but only until the next cut scene because they are all main characters…) so you have to have one squad pin the enemy down while that squad runs, so it’s a leap frog type thing. This is really great and keeps things from being boring since you have to think…psh yeah who woulda thunk that a WWII shooter would make you think! Of course, you have grenades, but you get a grenade ring and it’s basically an auto-lock thing so just hold RB and the grenade will fly over to the enemy on its own.
Speaking of all of that something new here is the “action cam” thing. It’s kinda cool since BiA is the only game that seems to realize there was actually blood and guts in war…they don’t try to purty it up for kids. Sometimes when you make a cool headshot you get a cut-a-way cam of the guys head getting all bloodied up and his helmet falling off. The same goes for explosions so you’ll see guts go everywhere (get a clue EA and Activision!!! Stop being sissies!!)
If you’ve been wondering about the audio/visual experience this whole time it’s because it’s good or I would have said something! The game uses the UT3 engine (you know the same one in BioShock and Gears of War?) Its nice and all yet still seems like the game came out last year. Maybe that’s because the game was delayed almost a year (yet I have NO idea why). The game has great lighting effects, explosions, fire, concrete, rebar that blocks your view sometimes in the 3rd person cover…it’s good but not amazing. The voice acting is really great and the whole game feels like WWII (you probably wouldn’t give a damn at this point though…)
If you want to know about multiplayer don’t come here because I never bothered playing it since it was a rental. I’m sure it’s great and has all the multiplayer goodness that most WWII shooters have. I highly recommend this game since it has a pretty long campaign (takes about 8 hours to beat) and really concentrates on Operation Market Garden instead of the whole damn war!!! So, you really get a good idea of what that battle felt like. Don’t spend $60 on this though just rent it or wait for a price drop…please…get Fallout 3!!!