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 fireteam, 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.
History and setting Edit
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 armour 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 follows the story of Staff Sergeant Matt Baker leading his new recon squad into the middle of Holland for Operation Market Garden. It starts with a brief retelling of events in the previous two games, then switches over to both Baker's and Staff Sergeant Joe "Red" Hartsock's squads preparing to enter a glider for insertion into an area designated right outside of Eindhoven, Holland. There are many new faces, who are replacements for soldiers that have died in the previous titles. The squad's mission is to clear Eindhoven and their DZ, and then link up with Col. Robert Sink in the city. After meeting a dutch informer called Nikolaus, Baker begins to move throughout the city with the assisstance of his squad.
They eventually get to a main street in Son, where German artillery begins to bombard them, killing a priest in the process. After this, they fight through more of the city, until Baker takes an alternate route through a building to kill some MG42 wielding Germans. In this building, the first of the flashbacks occurs when Baker sees glasses that resemble those worn by Pvt. Leggett are sitting on a table. He eventually makes it out of the building and links up with squad on the other side. they fight through a couple more blocks, then finally make their way to the bridge at Son, where they link up with "Red's" squad and the rest of the invading forces in the area, including Sink. Sink then gives the order to cross the bridge, then immediately after the bridge is destroyed, forcing the soldiers to cross through the river. In the process, many are mowed down by Germans awaiting on the other side, thankfully none of them being a part of Baker's or Hartsock's squads. They then proceed to destroy a German Flak 88 emplacement on the other side, which in turn completes their objective partially, for they were unable to save the bridge.
Baker soon learns that Lt Col Cole, was killed by a Sniper during a firefight (whom they do not find after, only his tally on the window sill.) Baker then tells Red, they then get into an argument which Mac interrupts to give Baker his next orders. You then witness an American being shot by a Sniper in a nearby Church, which Baker then assaults, killing several Germans and a MG42 Squad. Baker then has a vision of Leggett, he is firing Baker's Colt 45 and shouting " You want me! Fucking Take me! Take me!". Baker enters the Church with Paddock, who then kill the Germans occupied inside. Baker is then punched by a German, falling to the floor, but Paddock intervenes, throwing the German out of a Window. The German dies on the 6 story fall.
The Squad continues through Eindhoven, destroying several 88s and killing many Germans. Nikolaus approaches Baker and tells him that his son has ran off to fight the Germans, Bakers gathers his men and they go looking for the boy. They soon link up with an Irish Tank Commander called Redwood, saying that he is going to help them get through " this shitehole ", he also gives Baker a new Tommy Gun, "Its Jesus resurrected compared to your 'Yank Tommy' (M1A1 Thompson). They fight through the factories in the City, supported by Redwood's Tanks, Baker and his radioman, Holden, go to the rooftop of one of the factories to call in air support. Then Baker picks up a German sniper rifle from the sniper which he had just killed. He then looks over the building to see 88mm FLaK/Anti-Tank firing on Allied planes over Eindhoven. He then pauses and looks down the scope of the rifle. He then sees the shoemakers son, "Peter"; who had just escaped with his fathers Luger. Baker then gives cover to young Peter who is under attack by German, 5 MG42's, over 4 squads of 3-5 men, and 2-3 Panzersherck teams. After that it turns to Rewood who is tasked with clearing out the Germans in the train yard. Redwoood advances destroying 8 88mm FLaK Cannons, 3 Panzershrerck teams, over 20 Germans, and 3-5 MG42 teams.
Baker then leaves the factory with his squad, crosses the rail-yard, and then positions his squad out side of the toy store. Baker goes into the toy store, he kills a German who was manning a MG42. He proceeded to make his way up stairs and all the way down the hall. He walks in right as Peter shoots a German in the chest, killing him. Peter then starts screaming at Baker, threatening to shoot Baker. Baker says, "I know Nikolaus...". Peter hops over the dead German and hugs Baker. The scene then cuts again to Sherman tanks; elements of XXXcorps moving through the streets of Eindhoven with dutch people celebrating their arrival in the streets, Nikolaus embrases Baker for the return of his son to which he seems supprised towrards his show of gratitude. Dawson is still questioning Hartsock about the 'cursed' pistol which Hartsock pleads Dawson to let it lie claming "they lost freinds in what you are poking around in" meanwhile a young dutch girl catches the eye of Franky from across the street who begins to chat her up and boast about the role of the 101st airborne, to which he continues saying"and you dont understand a word i am saying do you?". corrion then teasingly drags him away saying - 'common lover boy", mean while Baker, Hartsock and cambell are discussing how effective the oparation in holland will be as red would like to be home 'before his daughter turns 3" resentfully he walks away from the conversation. The scene then cutts again to a grassey field in the middle of the night with baker sat at the foot of a treat and dawson strolling towards him, Dawson notices he is sat with the 'cursed' pistol in his hand as he sits down next to him and begins to ask about it and just as indicates his knowledge on what happend with kevin leggett in normandy, air raid sirens begin to blare out from eindhoven seen in the distance. With his pistol still drawn baker stands and walks out in to the field towards the direction of Eindhoven as the distant cracks of bombs are heard and the city explode into flames to which he cries out - "get everybody up!". - in complete
- 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.
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 controled 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 thougher 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.
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 Edit
- The characters faces have been edited and made more life like and not cartoon like.
- 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.
- Unlike previous Brothers in Arms games, many things in Hell's Highway are changed to be more unrealistic. i.e. You can carry more ammunition, health can be regenerated, and you aim is much steadier.
- 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 squadmates 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 Soldiers during Operation: Market Garden.