Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway is the third main entry in the Brothers in Arms series of video games which follow a squad of men of the 101st Airborne Division, led by the player-character SSgt. Matthew Baker, through the larger Allied Operations in World War II. This game once again puts players in the role of Matt Baker during Operation Market Garden in the later stages of WWII in The Netherlands
The game was released on the PlayStation 3, Windows, and the Xbox 360 in August 2008. The game has many new features, including the ability to command a further squad from a selection of new specialized units ( including a Special Weapons fire team, an Assault team, and a Base of Fire team). When a command is issued, the player model uses hand signals to issue the command to his squad, just like the previous games in the series. The player also has the ability to take cover behind objects, in a manner similar to Rainbow Six Vegas, which is an integral part of the game's strategy. The game is built on the Unreal Engine 3 and the PC version can take advantage of the features in DirectX 10 which allows for an enhanced graphical experience.
The game has many new features, including a selection of new specialized units (bazooka and machine gun teams). When a command is issued, the player model uses authentic WWII infantry hand signals to issue the command to his squad, similar to its predecessors. The player also has the ability to take cover behind objects and fire from a third person perspective which is an integral part of the game's strategy. The player no longer need to command the tank controlled by AI, instead, the players will command the tank themselves. A new “health” system has replaced the much more punishing set health per mission system of previous titles in the franchise. With this system, the player's screen begins to turn red as he exposes himself from cover and will return to normal when he return to cover; failure to do so will result in Baker getting shot and killed. While the Baker is tougher for the Germans to kill, his squad members are still vulnerable to enemy fire, but the friendly AI has been improved and if used properly, your teams can do a lot of damage. The original 'Situational Awareness' system of the first 2 games has been replaced with a simple tactical map that includes historically accurate recon reports based on period reconnaissance of the exact missions the player is currently playing.
One of the newer features of Brothers In Arms: Hells Highway, is the "action cam". Whenever the player gets a head shot, good grenade kill or orders a particularly explosive bazooka blast and even kills from Sherman Firefly, the camera will sometimes zoom in on the action and go into slow-motion showing the gory death.
Operation Market Garden was a plan devised by British general Bernard Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein. The plan was to send in three divisions of Parachute Infantry, two of the U.S. Army (101st Airborne Division and 82nd Airborne Division) and one of the British Army (1st Airborne Division). It is one of the largest parachute invasion in history. These divisions would land in The Netherlands, behind enemy lines, and secure three bridges at Eindhoven, Nijmegen and Arnhem (the furthest bridge from the front line). The British XXX Corps would then make a rapid advance along connecting roads and link up with the 1st Airborne Division, this would then cut the German lines and leave them very vulnerable to attack. It would get the Allies over the Rhine and hopefully into Berlin by Christmas 1944. The operation was executed on 17th September 1944, four months after Operation Overlord of the previous games in the series.
Unfortunately, whilst initially successful (but with drawbacks and large delays) with secured bridges at both Eindhoven and Nijmegen, the well equipped Panzer Division stationed at Arnhem proved too much for the (comparatively) modestly equipped British 1st Airborne Division. Supply drops frequently missed target, which made it difficult for the British in Arnhem to survive as they could not re-arm and thus found it difficult to fend off the attacking Germans until XXX Corps arrived. Again, unfortunately, XXX Corps never arrived. The British armor reached Nijmegen and then decided it was too risky to continue the advance, essentially abandoning the besieged 1st Airborne Division at Arnhem. Rescue operations were staged to get the surrounded British soldiers back to safety. However, of the 10,600 British Paratroopers who dropped on 17th September, only 2398 were left. What made matters worse was that because the position of the Allied troops was along one stretch of linked roads, the inevitable (and expectedly swift) German counter attacks were fierce, locking the Allies onto a narrow stretch of Dutch land which extended beyond the previous Front Line. The narrow stretch leading up to Eindhoven (which the 101st Airborne Division had to defend from counter-attack whilst XXX Corps made its way up the road) is what became known as "Hell's Highway", and that is where this game gets it's name from.
Staff-Sergeant Matt Baker is a squad leader in the 101st Airborne Division. He, and surviving characters from the previous games, are reassigned to Fox Company's special recon unit before the drop into Holland. Hell's Highway follows the 101st's assault and securing of Eindhoven, and the subsequent defense of the surrounding area from German counter attacks.
The game is based on Operation Market Garden on the 101st side where they secure Eindhoven while the 82nd secure Nijmegen and 1st Airborne secure Arnhem to break the German lines behind the Rhine line and enabled the Allied Army to strike at Germany by Christmas. Unfortunately, the operation deemed a failure after one of the airborne division failed to capture one of the strategic location and delays of XXX Corps.
The player takes the role of Baker again with the rank Staff Sergeant with characters from the previous games come back. There is also new characters to replace the losses in the squad. Although it is similar with the previous game where the mission is the main plot, there are some plot that focuses on Baker's mind and guilt over Leggett with hallucanation appearing to haunt him and the distrust he created between with his old friends.
- Staff-Sergeant Matt Baker: The player character, and squad leader. Provides monologues throughout the game showing an insight into the development of his brotherly relationships with his men.
- Staff-Sergeant Joe "Red" Hartsock: So named for his fiery red hair, Hartsock began as a Corporal back in Brother's in Arms: Road to Hill 30. He was promoted at the end of the Hill 30 game to Sergeant, becoming a squad leader himself. Matt Baker does not lead Red in Hell's Highway; instead, Red is a Staff Sergeant with a full squad of his own who will fight alongside Baker, being supported by and supporting Baker in certain missions of the game.
- Corporal Sam Corrion: A corporal in Baker's squad. Taking direct orders from Baker, Corrion leads the squad's assault team.
- The new characters that feature are: Pvt. LaRoche, Pfc. James Roselli , Pfc.Timothy Connor , Pfc. Gary Jasper, Pfc. Dawson and T5. Nathan Holden.
These are the chapters that are in this game:
- The Story So Far
- Prologue (Hell's Highway)
- Operation Market
- The First Bad News
- Written in Stone
- Operation Garden
- Baptism of Fire
- The Rabbit Hole
- We Happy Fewer
- Black Friday
- The Right Man
- Hell's Highway
- Those We Lost
- Tooth and Nail
- Farewell is Goodbye
On September 15, 2008, Ubisoft and Gearbox Software announced that the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game had gone gold. The Windows version went gold two days later. Playable demos on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Marketplace are available now.
Gearbox has officially announced a special, limited edition version of the game. The limited edition includes a 6 inch Sergeant Matt Baker figure with 13 accessories, a blister pack holding the figurine and accessories, a 32-page Brothers In Arms First Edition Comic book, a full color map of Operation Market Garden, special packaging and 2 more playable multiplayer characters.
The game was met with generally positive reviews. It was received with praise for its gritty realistic, highly authentic and true-to-life portrayal of soldiers in combat and the bonds that form amongst them, however, not all of Hell's Highway's reviews and aspects were ideal, with many citing the lack of any real support for its multi-player and the uneven gameplay and modes as steps backwards from the previous entries into the series. Positive things cited by many critics included the voice work, which many reviewers noted as a high step up from previous entries, as well as the story, which worked on a much grander level as well as personnel to show the true horrors of war.
Other issues cited were a collection of bugs, primarily in multi-player, which some saw as damaging to the games overall worth. In summary, the single player was seen as an incredible and well written trek through the horrors of Operation Market Garden, while the multi-player component was seen as sub-par. As the single player was praised and the multiplayer fell short of what was expected, Brothers in Arms was mostly seen as a single player game.
Brothers In Arms: Hell's Highway has also been published into a popular companion novel for the video game by the video game's historical director, Colonel John Antal, who served in the United States Army and retired after 30 years
Rumored and confirmed features
- It has been confirmed in a gameplay demo that Baker, Corrion, Courtland, McCreary, Zanovich, Hartsock, Paddock, Campbell, McConnell, Marsh, and Winchell will return.
- Civilians are now included in the game, but they cannot be shot.
- The characters in the series are set to become more developed, each with their own personal history, characteristics and habits.
- Cutscenes have become more detailed and realistic.
- There is a slight possibility that if this game shows the 101st Airborne in the Netherlands in the 8th of October, the player could witness the death of Colonel "Jumpy" Johnson of the 502nd as well as that of Lieutenant Colonel Robert G. Cole.
- Hell's Highway will include a cover system that is similar to Rainbow Six: Vegas; the screen will indicate the player's level of suppression, similar to the circular supression icon above the heads of the enemies. When the player exposes himself from cover, the screen will start to darken into a red color, with safe cover remaining clear. However, once safe behind cover, the screen will clear up again and resume as normal. This will only happen if threats are shooting at you.
- There will be hallucinations, delusions and flashbacks about the character's exploits during the first two BIA games, some of the involving characters such as Pvt. Kevin Leggett and other characters from the previous two games who were killed in action.
- A slow motion effect will be added when the player kills enemies with a grenade, kill with Bazooka, blow up a squad with tank shells or scoring headshots, although it was said that it will not be overdone to avoid being too unrealistic.
- Tanks are back in Hell's Highway, however, Baker cannot command them, the players will play as one of the tank commanders and operate the tank on their own.
- Some objects in the game are destructible, meaning covers can be destroyed with repeated heavy fire or explosives. For example, picket fences can be shot up and destroyed by a Thompson submachine gun, while heavier cover like sandbag emplacements can only be taken out by the player's bazooka team.
- The player's squads will not immediately attack the enemy. Instead he will have to order when to fire on sight and when to fire on command, and the squads will return fire if fired upon.
- The player can pick up machine guns, such as an MG 42, and fire it from the hip or set it up on cover (such as low walls).
- Germans will be able to move machine guns around as well, working much in the same way as the player's mobile machine gun crews. (Not included in final game, German crews will abandon their weapon and engage with rifles, sub machine guns etc.)
- The Authentic difficulty remains in Hell's Highway, requires the player to complete the level once to be available.
- 10-15% of the game will take course indoors with Baker separated from the rest of his squad.
- New Multiplayer experience with dozens of players on each side and squad-based gameplay.
- One trailer shows all the characters having grey uniforms, but in-game, they have green uniforms.
- Matt Baker now has the ability to command heavy weapons teams. In the E3 trailer, he is shown ordering a bazooka round to be fired upon an 88 mm cannon. He can also make use of machine gun squads, mortar teams and a radio man who can call in artillery strikes or air support.(Only MG and Recoilless Rifle team. No mortar as mentioned)
- There is a new feature called Brotherhood Moments where the player's character is shortly taken over by the computer and catches one of the player's fallen comrades. "Bro-Mos" are meant to show the bonds between the fighting men of the time period. (Not Included)
- The player's weapon swings around more realistically as it would in real life instead of just staying centered (or moving slightly). This is due to the new camera system that Gearbox describes as a third-person camera placed inside the player's character's head. This means that both the camera and weapon can work with the whole avatar instead of a fixed camera and disembodied arms holding a gun. Because of that Baker's limbs will be more closely tied to the game physics. (Very little in the final released version of the game. Not nearly as much of that show on the E3 conference)
- The player can now go prone as well as crouch and stand. Only crouching and standing were available in the previous games of the series. (No prone included)
- On most of the missions there will be no objective marker, which is different from most other shooters. Instead the player will have to rely on clues presented in-game as they move towards their target. The ten-minute demonstration showed examples of this. The player had the objective of destroying two German 88 mm cannons but did not know exactly where they were. Over the horizon were flak puffs, and when a group of U.S. planes flew over, one was shot down, suggesting the position of the objective. Also, as the player got closer to the position, there was a German on a rooftop, acting as a spotter for the gun placements. The player will need to be able to recognize hints like these to succeed. ( Compass has direction of objective as well as the " Tactical situation map)
- An interesting note about the multiplayer in the new BIA is that the player will have the option of fighting on a campaign map with a friend. The player and a friend will fight over territories and then gain positional advantages to take hold of Europe.(Not included in game)
- New realistic animations include the player's squad mates tripping and falling during combat while others will help them up.(Not included in final game)
- There are rarely any friendly NPCs outside of Baker's squad who assist in combat. The few exceptions being two British soldiers in Baptism of Fire, and some scattered Americans in Operation Market.
- The "Hell's Highway" was a nick name for Highway 69 in Holland by 101st Airborne Division during Operation Market Garden.
- Official website
- Direct link to the Full E3 Video Demonstration - WMV, 108mb (Right-Click, Save As) (stream)
- Same video, except in 720p (1280x720) - WMV, 800mb (Link takes you to a list of areas to download from) (torrent)
- Trailer From Ubiday 2007
- Gameplay Footage
Brothers in Arms series
|Main Games||Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 · Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood · Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway (2008)|
|Phone games||Brothers in Arms: Hour of Heroes · Brothers in Arms 2: Global Front · Brothers in Arms 3: Sons of War|
|Spin-off Games||Brothers in Arms: DS · Brothers in Arms: D-Day · Brothers in Arms: Double Time · Brothers in Arms: Art Of War · Brothers in Arms (N-Gage)|
|Printed Media||Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway · Brothers in Arms Journal · Brothers in Arms Comic|