Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway is the third entry in the Brothers in Arms series of video games which follows the men of the 101st Airborne Division (502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment). This game once again puts players in the role of Staff Sergeant Matt Baker during Operation Market Garden in the later stages of World War II.
The game was released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on September 23, 2008 in North America, and were in stores on September 24, 2008. The Microsoft Windows version was released two weeks later, on October 7, 2008.
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. A new “health” system has replaced the 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 they expose themselves from cover and will return to normal when they return to cover; failure to do so will result in Baker getting shot and killed. 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.
The AI has been drastically improved, and the player's team will adapt to whether or not they are seen by whispering. The enemy AI has also been improved, allowing the Germans to counter the player's actions. The game is built on the Unreal Engine 3. Using weapons is "much more effective" according to the publisher of the game.
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, the camera will sometimes zoom in on the action and go into slow-motion. The slow-mo grenade kills produce quite a bit of gore.
Plot and SettingEdit
Operation Market Garden was an extremely daring and hasty plan devised by the commander of the 21st Army Group, Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery. The plan was to drop three airborne divisions, two American (82nd Airborne Division and the 101st Airborne Division) and one British (1st Airborne Division), later to be reinforced by the Polish 1st Parachute Brigade and the British airportable 52nd (Lowland) Infantry Division, thus making it the largest Airborne operation ever mounted. These three divisions would land in the Netherlands, behind German lines, and secure multiple bridges and towns across the western part of the country, primarily at Eindhoven, Nijmegen and Arnhem. British XXX Corps, led by Lieutenant-General Brian Horrocks, would then make a rapid advance along a two-lane paved highway that ran from Eindhoven in the south, all the way 60 miles north to Arnhem and cross the Rhine River at Arnhem (the furthest bridge from the front line and XXX Corps' ultimate objective in the operation), this would then cut the German lines and leave the possibility for exploitation into the Ruhr Valley in Germany, and would hopefully "End the War by Christmas". The operation was executed on 17 September 1944, three months after Operation Overlord, which was covered in the previous games of the series.
Unfortunately, whilst initially successful with bridges at both Eindhoven and Nijmegen eventually secured, the well equipped II SS Panzer Corps, stationed in Arnhem to rest and recuperate, were thrown into action and proved too much for the under equipped 1st Airborne Division. The British LZ's were captured early in the battle, resulting in the supply drops falling into the hands of the Germans, which made it extremely difficult for the British in Arnhem to survive as they could not rearm and thus found it near impossible to fend off the attacking Germans until XXX Corps arrived. Arnhem was all but turned to ruins, the battle kept going day after day, but the British 1st Airborne remained defiant to the bitter end. XXX Corps never arrived to reinforce them. The armor reached just past the Nijmegen bridge over the river Waal, but could not advance further to capture Arnhem, as the bridge was now in German hands and around 4,500 British paratroopers were captured. The Allied advance was halted outside Nijmegen, the top Allied commanders decided that attempting to push toward Arnhem was simply going to continue to be a bloodbath causing more harm than good. The Allied troops' position along one stretch of linked roads was hit by repeated and brutal German counterattacks, locking the Allies onto a narrow stretch of Dutch land which extended beyond the previous front line. The narrow stretch leading up from Eindhoven to Arnhem (which the 101st Airborne Division had to defend from counterattacks whilst XXX Corps advanced) became known to the men of the 101st Airborne who fought, suffered, and died on this road as "Hell's Highway", where this game derives its name from. The Dutch would not see complete liberation for another 7 months.
The semi-fictional Staff Sergeant Matt Baker is a squad leader in the 101st Airbone Division's elite Reconnaissance Platoon. He, and characters from the previous game are reassigned to the unit before the drop into the Netherlands. The game follows the 101st's assault and securing of Eindhoven, and the subsequent defense of the surrounding area from German counterattacks, which in turn leads to the countless deaths of Sgt. Baker's squad.
- Staff Sergeant Matthew Baker: The player character and squad leader. Born in St. Louis, Missouri and 23 years old ,and his helmet has the trademark goggles on it, Baker provides monologues throughout the game showing an insight into the development of his brotherly relationships with his men. Baker takes the death of his men and anybody close to him very hard, and vows to. He uses an M1 Garand Rifle and the Thompson submachine gun. Baker seems to be suffering from hallucinations and some form of PTSD. In several missions he sees "ghosts" of his former men who died under his leadership. He is nearing the breaking point, and several other people notice that, and begin to question his competence to lead.
- Matt's "cursed" pistol is a highly polished nickel-plated Colt M1911 .45 caliber pistol given to him by his father (who also was armed with it during the First World War), who after he retired, had the pistol engraved with the words "For Matthew, Brothers in Arms". Col. Joe Baker wanted his son Matt to carry the gun with him should another war arise, with his father expecting him to be a great soldier someday. Matt isn't sure he can satisfy his father's high expectations, and never wanted the .45 in the first place. Before D-Day, Matt gives his pistol to Sgt. George Risner, who told him he'd give it back to him after they linked up in Normandy. On D+1, near St. Come Du Mont, while Baker is escorting Risner to the town, Risner's M5 Stuart light tank is hit by a Panzerfaust, and after Risner runs out of Thompson ammunition, he fires the pistol, and is hit repeatedly in the arms, chest, and neck. Later, the pistol is picked up by Pvt. Larry Allen and Pvt. Michael Garnett. While on patrol on a farm near St. Come Du Mont with Leggett, both are killed with the pistol, but Leggett is not, forcing the rest of the squad to become suspicious of Leggett and blame him for their deaths. On D+7, at Hill 30 during the defense of the counterattack on Carentan, Leggett stands on the top of a hedgerow with the pistol, begging for a Panzer to take his life, and is killed. Matt's father also died with the pistol. Matt is the only one who seems to survive. Possibly it is because his name is engraved on it, Baker refuses to believe in the superstition, but ironically, refuses to let anyone other than himself touch it, hinting that Baker just may believe the rumors.
- Staff Sergeant Joe "Red" Hartsock: So named for his fiery red hair, "Red" has a wild past full of bar-fights, and overnight arrests. Born in Laramie, Wyoming and 24 years old. One bar fight saw Hartsock confronted by a drunken lumberjack armed with a broken beer bottle, the result was a nasty scar on his left cheek. Sometime afterward, he met and fell in love with his wife, Erma, who saw Joe as her "project", after a few months, she'd managed to do the seemingly impossible, she had turned Joe into a God-fearing man, and had even given him a baby daughter, Carol, who he'd never met because he'd enlisted when Erma was 9 months pregnant. Hartsock wants to win the war so he can get back to his ranch and family in Wyoming, and see the daughter that he has been so anxious to meet, Carol will turn 3 years old in December. In the military, Hartsock began as a Corporal back in Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30. He was promoted at the end of the Hill 30 game to Sergeant, becoming the squad leader of 2nd squad 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. Joe "Red" Hartstock is then paralyzed in the end of Hell's Highway by a mortar round that hits a cafe that Baker and Friar were also in - it is the same mortar that kills Friar. The building collapsed and it did damage to his spinal cord so he is unable to walk. Red is sent home due to these injuries.
- Corporal Sam Corrion: Another familiar Brothers in Arms character, Corrion leads the squad's assault team. Born in Augusta, Georgia and 26 years old, Cpl. Corrion was in charge of a textile mill before the war where he made a rather good living, but always wanted a grand adventure after being in the small Georgia town all his life. Corrion was a corporal with Baker and Hartsock before the jump into Normandy and is still a corporal going into the Netherlands, much to his dismay. He believes that he can perform better than Baker and Hartsock on the battlefield, if only given the chance. He uses a M1A1 Thompson submachine gun. He is shot in the mission "Hell's Highway" that barely misses his heart but survives the bullet.
- Private First Class Gary "Jas" Jasper: He is a replacement soldier armed with an M9A1 Bazooka. He named his weapon Stella, after his girlfriend. Jasper is also a member of Baker's machine gun team, so he also carries a .30-caliber Browning M1919. Jasper is a larger-than-life soldier with a great personality and sense of humor, he also is a great soldier and can manage to draw a chuckle even in the worst of conditions. Jasper is a very playful person and is well-known and liked by everyone. Pfc. Jasper is the only team leader who is not a corporal.
- Private First Class Timothy Connor: Jasper's assistant on the machine gun and Bazooka.He is a rather quiet man, but shares Jasper's humor and is always glad to do his job, and do it well, and always backs up Jasper should he be unable to find the right joke for the given situation. He carries two ammunition belts for the machine gun or a backpack containing bazooka shells whenever he uses the machine gun or Bazooka. He mainly uses an M1A1 Carbine. Connor also has a cigarette box attached behind the elastic band on his helmet. He is only heard in the level "Baptism of Fire" when Baker tells Connor to "suppress the Krauts."
- T/5 Nathan Holden : The radioman in Baker's platoon, a job that fits him perfectly, he is constantly concerned with the efficiency of the communications and tactics and he is quick to question the squad's methods or orders, the rest of them don't take him seriously in the fact being that his logic rarely applies when things go FUBAR. He uses an M1 Garand Rifle. Nathan was born in San Diego, California and is 23 years old.
- Private First Class Mike Dawson: A transfer who served in the 502d PIR Pathfinders in Normandy; a mysterious character, Dawson doesn't wear a helmet saying it distracts his aim, and he speaks with an English accent. He finds interest in Baker's and Hartsock's stories, especially those about Baker's "cursed" pistol. Because of this, he is isolated from the rest of the squad for they would rather not re-live those events, but the others still listen to him and respect him as an equal. He is a member of Baker's assault team. He uses a M1A1 Carbine. Dawson starts off on a friendly note with Baker but gets on his bad side after attacking a British soldier who apparently found (and wore) Franky LaRoche's jacket. In the final cut-scene he notices Baker talking to himself. Dawson simply ignores this. He is 24 years old and from Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, England.
- Corporal Franklin Paddock: Red's Assault-Team Leader introduced in Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood. Paddock is a great soldier all around, though having a comical, and often irritating personality. Paddock has the reputation of being a redneck, and is proud of it. He uses an M3A1 Grease Gun. Paddock is a capable and courageous assault team leader (though his loud and boisterous chatter and taunting of the enemy may be distracting in combat) for Red's squad despite being somewhat arrogant and reckless, and always has a rude, but funny comment toward anyone who tries to talk down to him. He often refers to Corrion as "Sammy-Boy." Paddock is shown to have saved Baker's life in Eindhoven by throwing a German out a church bell tower - the same German who killed Lt. Col. Cole. He is shown in the level Written In Stone to end up on Baker's assault team as the only soldier separating himself from his original squad. He helps Baker hunt down the sniper and his platoon that killed Lt. Col. Cole. After Hartsock is wounded outside Veghel, Paddock is promoted and placed in lead of 2nd Squad.
- Corporal Jacob Campbell: Red's Fire-Team Leader introduced in Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood. Campbell is shown to be distraught about the death of Marsh on the ambush of the 2nd Squad, causing him to wonder how Paddock possibly knew it was going to happen. Jacob is a dedicated soldier who wants to prove himself in battle and isn't one for small-talk. He uses a M1 Garand. Campbell was inside the cafe that was hit by a mortar which wounds Baker and Hartsock and kills Friar; he survives, but is wounded in the neck, preventing him from speaking for the rest of the game. It is unknown as of now if this is temporary or permanent.
- Private First Class James Marsh: A member of Red's fire-team introduced in Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood. Marsh is a combat veteran of the African campaign and is a more than capable soldier, and has a great personality. A cutscene in the mission "Baptism by Fire" reveals that Marsh perished due to sniper fire. Supposedly, while in England Paddock predicted that Marsh and Friar would be killed in Holland. Marsh carries an M1 Garand rifle in Hell's Highway.
- Private First Class Dean "Friar" Winchell: A member of Red's Assault-Team introduced in Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood, Friar was the man who bandaged Hartsock's mangled ring finger after it was apparently shot off while entering the town of Baupte in Normandy. He uses an M1 Garand rifle. He is killed in the mission "Black Friday" by a mortar round that lands on a building his squad was occupying; the same mortar wounds Baker, Hartsock, and Campbell. His death was predicted by Paddock before Operation: Market Garden.
- Private Franky "Beans" LaRoche: LaRoche is a young soldier in Baker's squad who lied about his age to join the army. Young, and filled with heroic ideals, he is eager to rush into action...and all too willing to put his life on the line. He is the replacement on the assault team and the youngest in 3rd Squad. During the celebration in Eindhoven, Frank meets a young Dutch girl and then reveals that he has never really had a girlfriend. This is proven to be true, because Frank risks the safety of himself and his squad just to rescue her during the mission "Baptism by Fire". Franky is killed in "The Rabbit Hole" after being shot several times in the chest.
- Corporal Thomas "Zano" Zanovich: An old friend from Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30, Zanovich is now Baker's fire team leader. The "old man" and another veteran of the squad, Zanovich served in the French Foreign Legion for many years, and fought at Dunkirk in 1940, with the British, before enlisting in the U.S Army, he is more than capable of doing his job, and is a great leader should the situation call for it. Despite all the combat he's seen, Tom remains good-natured and has a strong sense of humor, even when the situation doesn't exactly call for it. He is the type to draw a quick laugh in a smooth casual tone without going to great lengths to get it. Tom is a cynical soldier, and always is the first one to ask "why" about whatever the squad is doing, and often questions the knowledge of the officers who assigns the squad orders. Zano also dislikes the Jeep columns the paratroopers drive in. He uses an M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle and an M1 Garand.
- Private First Class Jack Courtland: Another familiar face from Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30, Courtland is a member of Baker's assault team and is a member of the bazooka team and machine gun team. He uses a M1A1 Thompson submachine gun. A bit of a hot-head, Jack joined the paratroopers with dreams of glory and impressing French girls with his tales of valor. His eagerness to be a hero quickly faded after being lost for days in Normandy. Now, Courtland just wants to get back home and fighting for the man next to him is the best way to do it.
- Lieutenant Colonel Robert Cole: One of the game's true to life characters, Robert Cole was the commander of the 3rd Battalion 502nd PIR of the 101st Airborne Division Lt. Col Cole was a larger-than-life man, and always led by example, and would never send a soldier to do something that he would not be willing to do himself. He led his men when they jumped into Normandy on D-Day, and during Market-Garden. On September 18(D+1), a pilot instructed Cole to place orange smoke flares in front of his unit's position so that the air support would see where the friendlies were located, Cole performed the action himself, rather than send in one of his men to do the risky deed. A German sniper in a nearby farmhouse shot and killed Cole while he was making sure his soldiers were at a safe distance from the incoming air attacks. Only a couple weeks later, Lt. Col. Cole was nominated for the Congressional Medal of Honor for a bayonet charge he'd led outside of Carentan on June 11, 1944 during the Normandy invasion. He never saw the medal he was awarded, and he is buried in the Netherlands. He uses a M1A1 Thompson submachine gun.
- 1st Sgt. "Top" Greg "Mac" Hassay: He appears in a cameo role and indeed survives his wound received during the events in Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood. In the first game he was Baker's platoon sergeant and was a close friend of Baker's father, Col. Joe Baker and his family for many years, and always has a close eye on Baker, Hassay is much like a father-figure to Baker, and the men. In Hell's Highway, he is now a 1st Sgt of what is presumably Baker's old company. He uses a M1A1 Thompson submachine gun.
- Private First Class Dale "Kid" McCreary: Another face from Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30, McCreary is a member of Baker's fire team. It is believed he is the character who Baker stops from hitting the ground during the demonstration video (he does not die in the actual game). He uses an M1 Garand Rifle.
- Tank Commander Henry Redwood: Redwood is the player character during the first tank mission in Eindhoven. He may be a part of the Irish Guards, due to his accent and the fact that is the forward unit of XXX Corps. He introduces himself to Baker by saying "My name's Redwood, we're here to help you get through this shithole".
- Private First Class James "Jimmy" Roselli: Roselli is a replacement for Hartsock's assault team, he is shown in most videos to be another one who rarely speaks and acts when time calls for it. James replaces Marsh who was switched to the fire team after Normandy. Jimmy was first seen in the second developer's diary fighting with Paddock and Hartsock, holding Roselli back. He also has a cigarette box attached behind the elastic band on his helmet. He uses an M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle.
- Colonel Robert Sink: Commander of the division's 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, also known as the Five-Oh-Sink, who appears as a cameo role. Voiced by Captain Dale Dye, who also portrayed Sink in the ten-part miniseries Band of Brothers.
- T\5 Bobby Doran: He is Lt.Col.Cole's radio man. He is only seen once on "First Bad News" when he is taking to Holden for back up.Cole keeps on yelling at him and a mortar or artillery kills him, and he died a few minutes before Lt.Col. Cole.
- T\4 Dr. Gideon: Is the 502nd PIR medic he is only in Hell's Highway. He is only seen in "First Bad News" next to the dead Lt. Col. Cole in a body bag, and he is in the last level telling Baker that Sgt. Hartsock can't walk anymore.
- Tank Commander Joe Dickinson: Dickinson is the tank commander on "Black Friday" who destroys the tank at the cut scene. He is part of the XXX Corps. You only play as him on "Black Friday".
The game was met with generally good 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 forms 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.