It also must be said that the game just doesn’t look all that great – or at least not consistently great. For every nice, sunlit pastoral scene or atmospherically lit interior there’s a section full of bland textures and dull, blocky architecture. Watching a church pew ripped apart by machine gun fire is impressive, but you can’t help wondering why so much of the environment is immune to gunfire or grenades. On the PS3 code reviewed, a few cut scenes suffered from jerky motion or poor frame rates, and close-up the character models don’t always seem convincing.
While the game is full of dramatic, strongly written scenes, they often look like they’re being acted out by Thunderbirds puppets with human faces clumsily texture-mapped on top. And once you start thinking Team America; World Police, it’s hard to take Hell’s Highway as seriously as you know you really should.
To counter all this negativity, I should mention that those who settle into the measured gameplay will find a strong, challenging single player campaign to work their way through, complete with some great moments and a few real shocks along the way. Those who don’t, however, will find that the more Hell’s Highway goes on, the less tense and suspenseful it gets, and the more another round of suppress, outflank and destroy begins to feel like a chore. What’s more, while there is an online multiplayer option it’s more solid than spectacular: another variation on the WWII team game that fails to compete with the hot-wired antics of Call of Duty 3.
And this might be the problem overall – for all its realism and authenticity, Hell’s Highway is easier to respect than it is to love. Call of Duty 2 and Medal of Honor Airborne might not be as true to history or life, but they offer a more accessible and exciting brand of heroics. In cinematic, storyltelling terms Hell’s Highway half convinces you that the WWII FPS has further to go. The gameplay, unfortunately, doesn’t grab you and make you believe it.
Another solid, serious WWII shooter from Gearbox, but the central game mechanics wear a little thin after a while. Fans of considered, tactical FPS games will find much to enjoy, but the average gamer would be happy to exchange a little less drama in the cut-scenes for a little more excitement in the game.