Brothers in Arms Hell

It’s been awhile
since we’ve last seen Matt Baker and the boys of 101st Airborne
Division and when we did it was on a platform like the PlayStation 2. Yes, the
Brothers in Arms series is another WWII-themed first-person shooter but
the series not only introduced a more realistic tactical approach to the action
but it also did a marvelous job of invoking emotion and a much deeper glance at
our fighting heroes that put their lives on the line for the good of mankind.
Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway
continues the tradition on the PlayStation
3 and – a few problems aside – does a great job bringing us back into the

to Hell

This being the
third game in the series, we find the focus shifted back to Sergeant Matt Baker
during one of the most intense and dramatic events of his life during the war.
Having overtaken Hill 40 in the first game and breached further into Carantan,
it comes to Baker’s attention that he and his company will be involved in
Operation Market Garden. In fact, his unit plays a big role in this operation
that will have them attempting to take a key highway through lovely Holland by
way of force. The plan, of course, is to secure said highway in order for the
rest of the Allied forces to finally slip into Germany and end Hitler’s
shenanigans before Christmas. Sounds simple enough but the highway is no Sunday
drive and taking the scenic route here will cost you your life.


Taking control of
Baker, we get to see what transpires during Operation Market Garden and why the
op became one of WWII biggest military blunders. It’s actually quite impressive
how the game covers its historic bases and, through Baker’s eyes, we get a much
emotionally deeper sense of what soldiers felt about it. The shooter fan in me,
however, knows that the various scenarios that make up the operation are ripe
with action-packed battles.

Fans of the
series know that unlike the other familiar WWII games; you are not a lone
warrior able to sling hot lead at the German forces all on your own. This is a
squad-based game that rewards players for using common sense and as a result you
will start thinking like a soldier. You’ll quickly find yourself assessing each
situation and direct your MG Team or Assault Team in places where they can
better provide suppressing fire or bring the enemy out of hiding. Recon, one of
the game’s newest features, even allows you get better Intel that will help you
set up ambushes or steer clear of a nasty Nazi trap.

… Those you
raise hell with

Speaking of new
features, Hell’s Highway also introduces a cover system that allows you
to dig into a cover spot. The game turns the first-person perspective into a
third-person view when you find cover. This allows you to use cover more
accurately as well as shoot enemies from said cover. Realistically enough,
you’ll know the difference between good cover. Dig in behind a table, for
instance, and you’ll find that the enemy can shoot the table to ribbons and thus
force you to look for better cover. Another feature, and it’s a more cosmetic
one, is Action Camera. This feature basically slows time down and focuses in on
gruesome headshot or a good grenade toss. Blood will fly and limbs will too so
those with weak stomachs might want to consider turning off the feature if you
find it too violent.


Sadly, even with
these great new features, all is not perfect with Hell’s Highway. The
level design offers some truly exciting and engaging scenarios but there are
times when the action gets a tad dull. The satchel charge missions and the
Factory level are the ones that stand out … and not in a good way. There’s also
a tank mission that feels forced to the point that you’ll be glad it’s over. Yet
the real flaws come from the AI. The enemy will be smart in one scenario and
then complete idiots the next. Did German infantry men really hide behind cover
with their heads sticking out? Is a picket fence the right place to hide from a
machine gun turret? Even your squad is prone to some truly boneheaded blunders
such as scrambling to find cover in front of a bricked wall rather than behind

Yet despite these
obvious problems, the single-player portion of the game is extremely
entertaining and the story (especially for those who played the first two games)
paints a much broader picture. The game has a nice pacing and the campaign is
appropriately lengthy. There’s online multiplayer for those who want to try
their hand in tactical action with up to 20 players but the mode isn’t so fun
that you’ll want to play repeatedly. There’s also no cooperative mode, which
would have been great for a game like this.

You look like

I would have
loved to have said that Hell’s Highway is a downright visually
impressive game that is the very definition of next-generation graphics. Don’t
get me wrong, it’s a very pretty game that does the character models and
backgrounds well. Look closely and you can see the stitching of Baker’s Airborne
Division patch and the beads of sweat when he stuck in a hairy situation. The
green pastures and lovely city landscapes will make you stop to admire it (which
I don’t recommend in the middle of battle). Then again, shadows become a
pixilated mess and certain objects pop-up the closer you get. Oh, and to top it
all off, the framerate stutters during really intense action.


The sound, once
again, deserves a round of applause and it’s mainly for the gorgeous score that
plays throughout the game and during cut scenes as well as the sound effects.
You’ll know there’s a machine gun emplacement somewhere nearby because you’ll
hear its familiar rattle and you’ll actually hear German patrols around the
corner if you managed to sneak into an area occupied by the enemy. The voice
acting is, again, top notch, although sometimes you’ll hear your squad members
bark out the same phrases repeatedly. Overall, the sound is definitely a

Brothers in
Arms: Hell’s Highway

for the PlayStation 3 is deeply involving and riveting action
game that is far from perfect but still exhilarating enough to be a good sequel.
If you’ve been following the series since Road to Hill 40 then buying
Hell’s Highway
is definitely in order. The few glitches the game does have
do get in the way of the action but when things do run as smooth as ice then
you’re in for a fun WWII shooter and a solid attempt at bringing the series to a
new platform.

Scoring Details for Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway

Gameplay: 8.0
gamers will embrace a much richer story that wonderfully ties together all the
events from the last two games and it honors our fighting men by covering every
emotion. The addition of a bazooka team and a third-person cover system is a
very nice touch but the enemy and ally AI has dropped a lot of IQ points this
time around.

Graphics: 7.5
The character
models look good and everything from their uniforms to their facial features is
nicely detailed. Even the backgrounds look great from afar but the pop-up and
jaggies that show up often throughout the game just makes the game feel

Sound: 8.5
On the other
hand, the game benefits from great sound whether it’s the sound of each gun,
explosions, soldiers from both sides issuing commands and warnings. With a
strong voice cast and a beautifully cinematic soundtrack, the game’s sound is a
real highlight.

Once again, you
can’t run into an open field expecting to gun down enemy forces all on your own.
Tactical positioning and using your assault or bazooka squad at the right times
could mean victory while mismanagement can get you or members of your squad
killed. Then again, the wonky AI makes planning a waste of time.

Concept: 8.0
Baker’s story
is a deep and richly detailed one that makes this game really stand out. The new
features work well within the game and the Action Camera adds more realism to
battles. Adding a tank mission is so Call of Duty, though. We appreciate
online multiplayer but the multiplayer portion isn’t as fun as it could have
been on the next-generation console.

Up to 20
players can play a tactical round-based multiplayer game that has players
playing as the American Airborne or the German side. While it’s not bad or
boring, I just don’t see gamers coming back again and again.

Overall: 8.0
is a
strong and compelling entry in the Brothers in Arms series but it’s also
a slightly flawed sequel that could have been so much better on the PS3. Still,
even with its glitches, inconsistent visuals and so-so online multiplayer, this
game has enough standout moments to be an enjoyable ride down a bumpy highway.