‘Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway’ May Have Best Game Rain Ever

Before I even sat down to check out the long-anticipated, long-delayed “Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway” on the PC, my jaw dropped.

No matter how it played, I could say this within the first few seconds of seeing it: the rain blew me away. The way the droplets gathered on a soldier’s helmet, the environmental downpour — whether it’s actually dynamic or not is a moot point; it looks the part.

My strong gut reaction to the rain is actually why I wanted to sit down and check out “Brothers in Arms,” even if I’m awfully tired of World War II shooters.

“Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare” is what finally convinced me that I was, for the most part, done with World War II shooters. The setting is played out. But like anything, it can be reinvented, and it’s possible Gearbox Software could be the ones to do that here. I’ve heard good things about “Brothers in Arms” before.

My time spent with “Brothers in Arms” was on the PC, but with an Xbox 360 controller. Gearbox also had the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions on display, though, and from my vantage point, there wasn’t a notable difference between the three versions.

At first glance, there wasn’t much arguing that Gearbox was doing much different. It looks like World War II shooter, and while a very, very good looking one, it’s your standard World War II shooter, nonetheless. But then I started playing around with the squad commands, and realizing the additional strategy available to you.

For example, in my first combat scenario, my squad was pinned down behind a truck. I told them to hide behind some sand bags to take pot shots at a group of enemies trying to mow us down with a chain gun. I hid behind some cover around the corner (yes, this one has a cover system, not just a “crouch” button) for a better view.

Above the head of the guarding enemies was a green circle essentially representing the health of the “group,” but also representative of the health of each enemy. As you take down individual enemies, the health (or strength) of the group begins to collapse, and the game gives visual cues on when it makes sense to charge in because they’re vulnerable.

This was just one instance. I’m told this is common through the rest of the game. I can’t tell whether this will end up blurring some of the experience or make large-scale combat more enjoyable. I’ll need to spend some more time with it before deciding that.

What I can say at this point, however, is that it looks and plays good. Gearbox appears to be introducing some new elements to the gameplay mix that are compelling enough to warrant a second look as we near the game’s August release date. I’ll be anxious to see how the mechanics manage to hold up over time.

Plus, I really want to see that rain again.


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