With two acclaimed titles in the Brothers in Arms series, Gearbox Software and Ubisoft are looking to take their intense squad based shooter to another level in the next generation sequel, Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway. Making a jump to the 360 and PS3, Gearbox and Ubisoft are looking to innovate in the 1st person shooter genre while making strides in realism and continuing the story of Matt Baker, Joe Hartsock and the 101st Airborne.
In a recent interview with the press, Randy Pitchford, the President of Gearbox Software, shared some details with fans about the story in Hell's Highway, "Operation Market Garden, the operation from history that Hell's Highway covers, was a very interesting situation. The whole point of Market Garden was a plan by Montgomery to try to end the war before Christmas. The plan was to use paratroopers to capture a series of bridges along a highway and then to race tanks down this highway to get into Germany and maybe even get into Berlin and end the war." Operation Market Garden takes place between September 17th and 25th in the Netherlands in 1944 and was the largest airborne operation in World War II.
In order to help the team focus on a more realistic experience, Gearbox has yet again enlisted the help of retired Colonel John F. Antal as their military advisor and as in previous Brothers in Arms; Gearbox will feature real life war heroes (Lt Colonel Robert Cole, Col. "Bob" Sink, and George Koskimaki) during gameplay. While not completely necessary to the story, Gearbox is using these heroes to increase the game's overall realism and to have players further connect with their characters.
To help with the graphical side of the realism, the team at Gearbox is using Epic Game's Unreal Engine 3 that promises to harness the power of the Xbox 360 and PS3. When asked about the realism and updates that Hell's Highwayst person actor, I can see myself in the world and when I maneuver through the world it's me interacting with it. So when I get to a wall I can actually vault the wall, if I look down I can see my hand touching the wall. It's as good as any third person game I've ever seen, where the third person animations are perfect with the environment. We're now doing that in 1st person and there's a whole bunch of these kinds of things, these little things that may have been considered weaknesses, well, we're giving these attention and we care to make the best experience we can make." contains, Pitchford gleefully testifies, "We have a 1
The Gearbox team is bringing old and new tactical gameplay elements with them to Hell's Highway. While leading Matt Baker through his campaign, players will once again be using strategic squad based techniques like the Assault and Fire teams, while more heavy weapon teams have been added to increase the depth of strategy. Pitchford stated, "So now we can have things like an actual machine gun crew that I can order around and they can set up, and they can put that machine gun fire on anything I want or have a bazooka team under my command, or a mortar team, or a radio guy who can actually call in for artilleries or air support when it's available. These assets are amazing; they create a whole bunch of new options in terms of gameplay on the battlefield."
Also helping to make strategy a key element in the Hell's Highway is the introduction of destructible cover. This new aspect of the series promises to keep the action flowing and makes sure that players and enemies won't be able to hide for long. This all makes the tactical element of moving the squad from cover to cover all the more important, and will promise to give you a newfound rush when yelling, ‘We're pinned down!' in your living room.
Another feature new to the Brothers in Arms series is the addition of ‘Brotherhood Moments', or essentially, interactive cutscenes that help the gamer take on the full meaning of the situation at hand. Randy Pitchford stated in recent forum posts that it will be almost like the crash sequences in Criterion's Burnout series, where the camera pulls back from the action to show the larger picture of what's happening. Gearbox is using Capcom's Resident Evil as an example and is hoping that these cutscenes will again help the player to have a greater connection to his fellow soldiers. It will make players get a greater sense of the chaos and destruction that is war.
The folks at Gearbox aren't solely fixed on the single player campaign either. They've redeveloped the multiplayer experience to offer more than just squad based death matches, and options on the multiplayer experience are expected soon.
With years in the making and the many additions coming to this next generation sequel, Ubisoft and Gearbox look to be taking the genre of the squad based shooter to places it's never been. As simply stated by Pitchford, "Nothing like what we're doing has ever been done in a 1st person shooter before."
The Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway trailer is available for download here, and a release date in time for Christmas on the Xbox 360 and PS3 promises that many gamers will have this one on their wish list.
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