Brothers in Arms Hell’s Highway – 360 – Review

Matthew Baker had
never envisioned himself as a leader of men and nor did he truly understand his
father’s words until Baker found himself in command of men he has come to see as
brothers. With the weight of this new responsibility as well as facing
incredible odds in enemy occupied territory, the young Sergeant finds himself
pushing further into the breach hoping he and his men will come out of this war
alive. Of course, nothing in this world is easy and in Brothers in Arms:
Hell’s Highway
for the Xbox 360, this is something Matt Baker will find out
the hard way.


The third entry
in the Brothers in Arms series, Hell’s Highway finds Baker and
company in a more dangerous and desperate mission the top brass has dubbed
Operation Market Garden. With Earned in Blood more about Hartsock’s
experience, Hell’s Highway is more about Baker and how this operation
unfolds before his very eyes. In fact, this one dives further into his life and
the fate that awaits him after the events that take place around him. Make no
mistake, like the past two games in the series; the story is deeply compelling
and emotional. This is, of course, what really separates this series from other
WWII shooters like Call of Duty or Medal of Honor. This is what
makes the Brothers in Arms game such truly cinematic and captivating

Entry into
Carantan was, by far, one of the hardest events the company has seen but it
pales in comparison to Operation Market Garden and the events that transpire
during it. When we see Baker in Hell’s Highway, he is slowly experiencing
the pressure of combat and the loss of men that were close to him. In short, the
war is wearing him down and the faces of fallen comrades begin to flash before
his very eyes. The operation has Baker and his comrades attempting to take a key
highway in Holland that will secure a direct passage to Germany and thus
stopping the German war machine for good in time to ring in the New Year’s back
home. Sadly, this was not the case and the results are seen by Baker and his
band of brothers.

While it’s not
required to play the first two games to understand Hell’s Highway, it’s a
far more interesting and complete story if you did play Road to Hill 40
and Earned in Blood. You’ll get a better idea of why Baker is starting to
fall apart and what the other characters mean to him. As a result, this
particular chapter in the Brothers in Arms saga is gripping and
powerfully emotional. Who said games don’t have the ability to tell a compelling
story based on historical data as well as be fun to play?

The truth is that
Hell’s Highway is a fun shooter that remains to be one of the more
realistic and more tactically intelligent WWII shooters on the market. Sure, we
enjoyed storming the beaches of Normandy in the Medal of Honor games and
yes we really liked looking through the eyes of other Allied soldiers in the
Call of Duty
games but rarely did these games stress the importance of
working as part of a unit. As a squad-based shooter, Baker is in command of a
squad composed of an assault squad, a machine gun squad and – new to the series
– a bazooka squad. Like the first two games, you can direct the MS and assault
squads to provide firearms support but for those pesky bunkers it’s the bazooka
team that comes in handy.


Aside from the
new bazooka squad, Hell’s Highway introduces a Rainbow Six Vegas-styled
cover system that turns the first-person perspective into a third-person view
when you “dig-in” behind cover. Some cover can fall apart by return gunfire so
picking the right place for cover is essential and the good news is that you can
even fire back from the safety of cover. It’s an effective feature that has
saved Baker’s bacon more than a few times during the more intense skirmishes
you’ll encounter in the game. New to the game is also Action Camera, which
displays your more accurate headshots and explosion dismemberments in slo-mo and
in all its gory glory.

On the 360, the
game’s controls work well, allowing you to issue orders and switching weapons
with ease. This is great seeing as the enemies not only decent shots but there
are times when they’ll execute intelligent flanking moves. Then again, there are
more times when the enemy is actually almost way too dumb to the point that
you’ll feel like you’re picking off targets in a carnival shooting gallery.
You’ll wonder why Nazi #1 is behind a brick wall while Nazi #2 is providing
covering fire from behind a rickety wooden fence. That’s not the worst of it,
though, because there are times when the enemy will run out into the open for no
reason at all. This also goes for your own squad of dunces that take cover in
the most inconvenient places.

As you can see,
the inconsistent AI takes away from the realism Gearbox Software and Ubisoft so
brilliantly worked into this game. There are also a few levels that are hit and
miss, although most of the game is great at placing you in some rather
interesting predicaments for those who take the tactical end of this game more
seriously. These great moments are often interrupted by some rather frustrating
ones and the tank mission just feels added on for the sake of breaking up the
shooting fun. There’s also a multiplayer mode that allows you to play with up to
20 gamers in total but it’s a strategy-based game that isn’t fun for too long.
What is definitely missing is a co-op mode.

As far as the
graphics are concerned, I have both good news and bad news. The good news is
that there are some dazzling visuals here that look great on the Xbox 360. The
level of detail is actually quite impressive to the point that its hard not to
love how beautifully detailed the backgrounds or character models look
throughout the game. Some stiff animations aside, the rag doll physics are
played up nicely in this game and Action Camera is gruesomely – and strangely
satisfyingly – fun to watch. The bad news is that the graphics come with some
major glitches such as pop-up (objects suddenly appear) as well as a few
problems that make shadows look like they belong in a PS2 game rather than an
Xbox 360. 


The sound is
another matter altogether seeing as it hits all the right notes at all the right
moments. The score, for instance, is downright beautiful. It’s sweeping,
dramatic and thoroughly cinematic soundtrack brings each scene and situation to
life on the screen. Along with the “Previously, on Brothers in Arms …”
opening, the game feels like an episode from a WWII drama. The voice acting is
also handled well, although the cussing might turn off some gamers. Even the
sound effects and background noises are detailed well enough that you’ll hear
everything from coming infantry patrols to the sounds of insects in the

Despite the
game’s most glaring faults and a weak multiplayer mode, Brothers in Arms:
Hell’s Highway
is one of those delightfully unforgettable games. We’ve seen
many a WWII-themed game but rarely does one really go far enough to capture the
essence of field tactics while honorably placing you in the combat boots of
heroes. Hell’s Highway manages to do both but, unfortunately, it’s not
without its share of problems that hold this back from being one of the best
games in the Brothers in Arms series. It’s a fun ride, though, and one
that should not be missed by fans of the series.

Scoring Details for Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway

Gameplay: 8.2
Once again,
you’re using not only a steady aim but also quick wits and tactical battle sense
and you’ll need it during Operation Market Garden. You can now take cover and
perform precision headshots but these features aren’t always necessary since the
enemy (and your squad) is dumb as rocks. Still, most of the levels are really

Graphics: 7.0
On the Xbox we
were impressed with the last two games in the series but the jump to the 360
just isn’t as impressive. Sure, the character models look great and the
environments practically leap off the screen. So why are there so many glitches,
awful textures and framerate stutter? These things ruin the awesome Action
Camera feature.

Sound: 8.5
The gorgeously
sweeping score and the finely tuned voice acting feel like they belong in a
movie or a “Band of Brothers” episode. The sound effects are wonderfully
authentic to the period and the ambient sound is just as detailed. It’s too bad
that sometimes you’ll hear the same phrases repeated throughout.

There are times
when the German squads will impress you profoundly with their field tactics and
there are times when they will surprise you with their idiocy. What’s that you
say, Baker? Sometimes your squad is better at finding the latrine than solid
cover? I definitely believe that.

Concept: 8.0
Action Camera
makes for some gruesome yet entertaining kills if you’re into that sort of thing
and the cover-and-fire system is a nice touch that should have been added with
the second offering. Baker’s tale is worthy of the big screen. I just wish
multiplayer was better.

The lack of
co-op hurts like a Lugar shot to the foot but there’s online multiplayer action
for up to 20 players. Unfortunately, the tactical multiplayer fun doesn’t last
very long thanks to a lack of diversity. Sorry, but this multiplayer action just
won’t cut it.

Overall: 8.2
storytelling aside, Hell’s Highway is an utterly gripping and
action-packed jaunt into the hellish frontlines that might not be executed as
well as it should be but is still worthy of playing. Its glitches and somewhat
unspectacular visuals actually keep this from being a brilliant game but it
doesn’t hold it back from being fun either. Take a trip down this highway … you
will definitely enjoy it.