I couldn’t have been more thrilled to reprise the role of Staff Sergeant Matt Baker of the 101st Airborne Division in Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway. After all, it’s been years since a truly great WWII shooter has graced the market. And while the genre has definitely been over-saturated, I’m always willing to make room for one more in my collection if it’s of the stature of the Brothers in Arms series.
When I first learned of the story behind Hell’s Highway, I was more than intrigued. After-all, Operation Market Garden was anything but a glorious moment for the Allies. With most war games placing you in the position of the victorious hero, I knew the campaign was going to play out differently as defeat was inevitable.
This third installment in the Brothers in Arms series packs a fantastic story that follows Baker and his squad through some horrific moments. Through truly emotional cinematics, you watch as fallen squad-mates are mourned, civilians are slaughtered, and trust is broken. Hell’s Highway refers back to the original game in the series, Road to Hill 30 and reveals some of scenarios that were only touched on briefly. One being what really happened to Allen and Garnet when they were put under command of Leggett. Through the campaign Baker takes a beating, both emotionally and physically. By the end of it, his face is riddled with scares. What really got me was the closing cinematic where Baker sits down with an old comrade in what was the most sincere and touching moment I’ve witnessed in a game.
“Every Soldier Has Two Families. Those You Raise, and Those You Raise Hell With”
Sure, we’ve played several games where squad-mates tag along, but rarely have they been useful or effective. The Brothers in Arms series has always stood out in this crowd. I love having the option to sit back and command my teams to execute suppression and flanking maneuvers without firing a shot myself. In the later missions, I found myself doing this more and more as situations were simply too chaotic to be in the middle of the action myself. Instead of hunkering behind a low wall and popping off shots, I would position my teams and have them suppress the enemies while I ran around and found weak spots in their defenses to pick them off.
Hell’s Highway brings a couple new teams to the battlefield. While each mission varies, you end up having a machine gun team and a bazooka team at your disposal. The MG team can lay down enough fire to keep several enemies at bay while you move in for the kill. The bazooka team is just a whole lot of fun! They can take down vehicles, blow sandbag emplacements to bits, and send German soldiers flying with limbs detached.
Glorious Bloody Moments
Speaking of which – this game is all kinds of gory. And in the best possible way! There are now these action moments where a perfect headshot or a well placed grenade will trigger a quick pan and zoom from the camera to show you the affect of your precision. I’ve seen several reviews complain about these, as they do take you out of the action for a few seconds. But I enjoyed each and every one of them. There’s an option to disable them entirely if you wish, but then you’ll miss out on a few associated Achievements by doing so.
To Be Continued…
I couldn’t have been more pleased to see these words on screen as the campaign came to a close. Not only have they confirmed there will be another sequel, but a hint is dropped during the last cinematic which points to the location – and it’s one I’m very happy about.
The Brothers in Arms series isn’t for everyone. It’s not a run-and-gun, throw grenades while firing and jumping backwards repeatedly type of game that you might be used to. And as such, it’s well worth a look.