You can't envy companies releasing a first-person shooter these days. We've have a glut of quality in that department recently, with several-months-old FPSs still clogging the top slots of Xbox Live activity.
So we were curious to see if Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway could cut through the clutter and prove itself worthy of a spot among the powerhouses. The answer? A resounding "I don't know."
The 10 minutes or so I played at E3 opened strongly enough, with some cool, organic ways of teaching players the basics. Once I got into the action proper, the first feature to really jump out at me was the way suppressive fire has been visually integrated into the HUD.
When you or your compatriots are shooting at the enemy, a red circle appears above their head. As firing continues the circle becomes fully gray until the target is fully suppressed, which means they'll be much less likely to return fire and, most importantly, much easier to flank, which you can either do yourself or send your team to do.
It works really well, and definitely makes it easier to think strategically about a battle. Oh, and if you're the sort who likes a little more immersion or difficulty you can turn the feature off, even though the basic mechanic will still be working behind the scenes.
The placement of your forces and deciding how labor will be divided is a key part of the game's flow and does help to set it apart from the pack. But I was being shown a pretty controlled section, so I'll be interested to see if it's something I continue to rely on it or it becomes an afterthought.
When I climbed into one particularly high tower, I was given the option of doing recon, which allowed me to see where enemy clusters are. I'm still a little unsure if the feature can only be activated in high places, but it was certainly helpful.
My uncertainty is pretty typical of our reaction to Hell's Highway. What we've seen so far has us pretty confident. But we're still not sure if all the pieces will come together in a top-flight fashion.