Being a fan of war games from all time periods, the quantity of games is ample, yet quality is hard to come by. With the extensive range of war games already drowning the shelves of gaming stores, it takes something special to stand out from the rest. Where other games are found wanting, Brother in Arms: Hell’s Highway definitely delivers gaming excellence.
Hell’s Highway, set in WWII, follows the story of Sergeant Matt Baker and the 101 st Airborne in ‘Operation Market Garden’ through Holland. The game is backed by a strong storyline which puts emphasis on the bonds that are made and broken, both in and out of battle. The use of brilliant cinematic material demonstrates that this could effortlessly become an animated film.
The gameplay has a far stronger aspect of realism than most of the current competition, and it takes little to get killed in battle, and given the highly destructible environments, strategy is key. On the flipside, your health regenerates once behind cover, and weapons such as rockets and tanks don’t seem to do as much damage as they should when directed at you.
Being the Sergeant, you have full command over a range of teams which include bazooka squads, assault squads, machine gun teams and tanks, all of whose life is in your hands, since they need your correct guidance to survive each battle. The realistic essence of the game is also revealed through the use of unique sounds, simulating a range of gunshots and ordinance, as well as the deafness caused by nearby explosions and the annoyingly-reduced visibility when injured (the screen turns an ever deepening red depending on the amount of damage).
Some of the more fun features of the game include the ‘action camera’, which is brilliant for crack-shot players, allowing you to see the slow-motion effect of your bullet blasting through the enemy’s helmet, or your well-placed grenade or rocket tearing him to shreds – a feature which (disturbing as it may be) I particularly enjoyed.
The witty banter between soldiers is also fun to listen to as they try and turn the fight into a serious of wisecracks and jokes; presumably the only way to go through such an experience and remain sane, this adds considerably to the realism. Upon first completion of the game the option of “authentic” becomes available, where all the heads-up display and general help given is removed, leaving you to lead your men with only the help of your memory and ability, and this allows for a new level of depth to the gameplay.
The cinematic techniques are entrancing, the scenery extraordinary, the characters and their stories captivatingly remarkable and gameplay is utterly realistic. Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway is all round a brilliant game, whether you are into war games or you just like a good first-person shooter. Compared to its contemporaries, Hell’s Highway blasts into a league of its own.
Brothers In Arms: Hell’s Highway is out now.