Are you sick of WWII games yet? No. Well, if that’s the case, then this game is a definite buy for you.
Brothers in Arms: Hell Highway is developed by Gearbox Software, the company that made Half Life 1 and Halo: Combat Evolved. If you expected Brothers in Arms to be just another WWII shooter, then you are half right; the game does have the same enemies and the same guns, but the intense story and innovative gameplay make the game a refreshing new look on what happened in 1944.
You play as Sergeant Matt Baker and your mission is to complete Operation Market Garden, a mission which involves capturing a giant stretch of highway through the middle of Holland. You would think it would be the simple story of a Sergeant fighting the war with his friends; one of them dies, everyone is sad, the end. But it’s not; Hell’s Highway has one of the best stories that a WWII game has had for the console, not only does the story focus on Baker’s army pals and his relationship with them, but occasionally throughout the games many cutscenes, you will see into Baker’s mind as it gradually breaks down and drives him insane. The pressure of the war effecting not only his emotions, but his sanity.
The game is true to life, and features lots of information about how the plan was to go through, and how the soldiers really didn’t know what was happening in this greatly flawed plan to take over the Highway. Baker has plenty of flashbacks of what has happened to him to get him in this position. Quite often in the game, you will see blood soaked soldiers laying face down in a pool of blood, as the game is pretty grim when it comes to killing the enemies. The sight of this would surely drive anyone mad.
The way that you play through the game is by controlling one of the three team types to move up to certain points of cover; Once in cover, you can order them to suppress fire, shoot bazookas at the enemies or just raise hell; Each one being affective in different situations. You only have control of two of these three team types as the game automatically chooses which teams would be most relevant in the situation you were in. It would be pointless ordering a bazooka team around in close quarter combat as limbs would most likely be flying everywhere in a matter of seconds. Controlling your teams and sending them to the right position is vital for the game, if you order your team to run to the wrong place, then they can be easily shot down in just a couple of bullets, and then you are left slowly fighting through the rest of the level until they are brought back to life by a checkpoint. Capturing the highway is impossible if you don’t organize your squads well, you can use them to flank the enemy by suppressing them and keeping the enemy busy, while you sneak around to the side of them, and slyly take them out with a couple of bullets to the brain.
Your health will fly down in this game unless you keep yourself out of the way of the enemy bullets. By using the squad tactics, it is much easier to advance tactically than to go crazy and attempt to run straight towards the enemy and try and beat them to death; Mainly because the game doesn’t feature the ability to melee, and you would have been shot down way before you got anywhere near them. The cover is destructible though, so firing a rocket into a stack of sandbags will undoubtedly send the enemies behind them flying in a shower of blood and body parts. Later on in the game you get to drive a tank through the streets, but this isn’t a very big addition to the gameplay, and only happens at a few points through the game and it just seems tacked on.
The graphics in the game are mediocre, the game is using unreal engine 3, so the destructible cover is impressive at times, but the buildings sometimes look too generic as if they have just been rushed, especially in the cutscenes, the scenery can just turn into a big blur if the textures of the surroundings have decided not to load. The music in the game is amazing, the sound of the gunfire whistling through your speakers as a bullet bounces off the metal on one of the many abandoned shop doors pump adrenaline into your blood as you know the battle is about to begin.
The game does have its fair share of bad parts; sometimes your squad will get confused and just stand around in the firing line of the enemy and get killed, leaving you to fight the battle alone. Also, the textures in the game are sometimes really sloppy and in a couple of battles, enemies have been able to shoot through the walls.
But these slight problems to the side, the game delivers a deep and exhilarating experience that any fan of war-based games would enjoy.