Brothers in Arms Hell's Highway Exclusive Hands-On - Baptism of Fire

Eindhoven is burning. Your bazooka isn't helping.

by

On the night of September 19, 1944, 85 German Luftwaffe bombers released their payloads over the Dutch city of Eindhoven. More than 200 people were killed. Amid the rubble stirs Staff Sergeant Matt Baker and his squad, right in the crosshairs of the first significant German counterattack to Operation Market Garden. Baker's mission: to sift through the burning ruins of the city, link up with an underground resistance bunker, and bail out two British squads pinned down by German machine gunners. It's not going to be easy, but nothing is on Hell's Highway.

In our latest look at Brothers in Arms Hell's Highway, we jumped into Baptism of Fire, a chapter midway through the game that picks up with Baker fighting through Eindhoven. The city is burning as a result of the German firebombing. At your disposal you have a base-of-fire team and an assault team. Before you can link up with the Dutch resistance, a team of Germans on top of a hill pin you at its base. The Germans were armed only with rifles, so Baker ordered his base-of-fire team to break out the machine gun and suppress the enemy. This freed up Baker to flank right around a nearby shed and creep up the hill, picking off enemy soldiers with his M1 Garand.

When you're not suppressing the Germans, they're suppressing you.

It's a familiar formula if you've played Brothers in Arms before. The squad-command system at this point is largely unchanged, probably because it has worked so well in the past. You simply cycle through your fire teams and point them at a location. As trained soldiers, they'll automatically take cover and fire at enemies, rather than stand out in the open and wait to get picked off. The command system is contextual, so if you point to a location, the team will move there; point at an enemy and the team will lay down suppressing fire; point at a piece of destructible cover like a bunker of sandbags, and your squad will, predictably, destroy it. It's these realistic squad mechanics that separate Brothers in Arms from its competitors, and it's impossible to play the game without suppressing your enemies, flanking them, and going in for the kill. If you're not suppressing Germans, they're suppressing you. And one bullet in BIA is enough to get you killed.

After we took out the Germans on the hill, an additional enemy squad took cover inside a Dutch gas station. That's a bad idea when your city has just been firebombed. The Germans were obliterated by a huge, booming explosion as the gas tanks ignited. (No word yet on what effect the explosion will have on gas prices, although the Germans were clearly not happy.) We soon ran into a machine-gun nest and a pair of German assault teams. Our machine-gun team pretty much cancelled out theirs, so it was up to the assault teams to duke it out. Baker tried to flank around a wooden fence that the Germans quickly shot up. Although the environments are not completely destructible--you won't be demolishing any buildings any time soon, as in Battlefield: Bad Company--bullets will crash through wood, and bazooka shells will make quick work of sandbags. After retreating to more solid cover, Baker emptied his Tommy gun on an empty position. The intent was to turn the red circle above the Germans to gray, which indicates that they are suppressed and trembling with fright. Rather accidentally, one of the bullets hit a German in the head, triggering a slow-motion action camera in which the soldier's brains left his head and landed on the well-manicured Dutch lawn. Coincidentally, Hell's Highway is rated M for Mature. We flanked, fired, and moved our squads to the resistance bunker.

After starring in two equally bloody Brothers in Arms games in which most of his, um, brothers in arms were killed, Matt Baker is a haunted man. He often has flashbacks of their deaths, and as he moves through the ruins of Eindhoven, the lifeless faces of the fallen briefly appear on the screen. It's a disturbing effect of the kind that you would expect from the likes of F.E.A.R., but Gearbox is making a deliberate effort to convey the horrors of war in video game form. This would seem gimmicky and shallow had Gearbox not fleshed out Baker and his squadmates as complete characters, each with his own personality and imperfections. Baker's friend Joe "Red" Hartsock is worried about Baker's mental capacity, moving forward. Baker takes any death very hard, whereas Hartsock knows that it's all a necessary part of war. Meanwhile, Corporal Corrion is obsessed with earning a promotion, young Private Frankie "Beans" LaRoche dreams of being a hero even if it means rushing into action against orders, and Private Dawson continually pesters Baker and Hartsock about old battles that are better left in the past. These men, along with many others, are part of your squad and will fight beside you. Some will die. But that's what makes Brothers in Arms what it is.

We don't want to spoil any of the story, but know that in Eindhoven, Baker is not all there mentally. Nevertheless, he has to lead his men out of the resistance bunker and rescue two British squads pinned down by the Germans. Despite being deeply affected by the war, Baker has always been able to snap back to action in the heat of the moment. Moving from building to fiery building, the squad engages in close-quarters combat. Here in these cramped confines, maneuvering for shots is even more difficult, and suppression plays an even more important role.

After clearing out several buildings, the squad reaches the central town square and the two British squads. Using the battle map that you received from the Dutch freedom fighters, you can plan your assault on the courtyard. The German machine-gun nest has the entire eastern half of the courtyard pinned down, while two German fire teams have taken cover behind bunkers on the left side. The British soldiers will fight alongside you now that the Allies outnumber the Germans, but it's still slow moving though the courtyard. We ordered the base-of-fire team to lay suppressing fire on the German machine-gun nest, and then bounced from cover to cover until we found a safe flanking position by the statue in the center of the square. After rolling a grenade toward a German assault team, we triggered another action-camera sequence in which an enemy was blown into the sky, losing a leg in the process.

The Nazi assault on Eindhoven was one of the first major counterattacks of Operation Market Garden.

With the left side of the square cleared, we flanked the German machine-gun nest and took it out with one last grenade. And just as the town square was finally cleared, at which point Baker could've taken a breather, off ran Frankie into a burning apartment to save a young Dutch woman. Baker, screaming after his 19-year-old machine gunner, followed Frankie into the fire. There's no rest for a squad leader. We'll have more on Brothers in Arms Hell's Highway after E3.

Discussion

232 comments
rrmccord
rrmccord

How do I get through the Apartment mission , I keep getting burned up regardless of what I try? Thanks , R.R.M.

BlackCrow2
BlackCrow2

"CoDWaW can suck d*** now, BIAHH is the king of WW2 shooters." It's not even out yet, dummy.

dddddddo
dddddddo

CoDWaW can suck d*** now, BIAHH is the king of WW2 shooters.

wogglies5
wogglies5

(Mocking in stupid voice)"We'll have more on Brothers in Arms Hell's Highway after E3." Where is it? I dont know how long E3 lasts but probably not this long! NEW STUFF! NEW STUFF! NEW STUFF!

GTA4ADWCOD4GAME
GTA4ADWCOD4GAME

I have dreams about dis game. I really want this game and after watchin dat movie about baptism of fire i nearly came if u know what i mean. I was watchin lezbo only joking.

360pauly
360pauly

with u man, i couldnt wait for a summer game to play until they delayed it!!!

Elvis4576
Elvis4576

thoses s.o.b.s better not delay it.... again

wogglies5
wogglies5

The sept date better damn-well hold...:( Cant wait anymore!

WarGrad
WarGrad

So far the Sept date is holding.

ibrahimau
ibrahimau

It will be the best brother in Arms since hillway 30

Torio795
Torio795

There taking the michael about the release date now! Next minuite they'll be saying they wanna release it next year, you watch! There taking the p***!

When it does come out at least we'll have plenty of Nazi's to kill to take out the frustration!

wogglies5
wogglies5

Am I reading this right? The release date says September 23! I thought it was August 29.

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

OMG you can get in tanks, a nice addition to the tactical gameplay : )

grambyte
grambyte

Hmmm, I wonder how this will turn out. It got my attention, but that's kinda it.

gamah_killah
gamah_killah

I really like the night-time look of the game

canana
canana

I can't miss this game.

Cube_of_MooN
Cube_of_MooN

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

carstairs
carstairs

I always liked squad games, this could be good for me :).

king_loei
king_loei

@990benny990 I know the CoD series is not really meant to be as tactical as say, Rainbow Six, or BIA as you mentioned, but they are realistic enough that if you make a simple mistake, It'll be gameover for you. If you want tactical in the CoD games, just start a new game in Veteren and see if you can get to the end of the game with just guns blazing. When you can't, don't even say the game isn't tactical enough.

990benny990
990benny990

awesome this game is gonna be the best of the bia series it seems it has better AI and the grathics is emense!! This is not like any other ww2 game which would be running about shooting at everyone like cod 1 ,2 ,3. This is different because you have to think how to kill the enemy tactically which makes it that much more fun!:D getting it when it comes out for sure!!! cyaa

chechak7
chechak7

one of the most squad-command best games

RonTorque
RonTorque

"disturbing effect of the kind that you would expect from the likes of F.E.A.R., but Gearbox is making a deliberate effort to convey the horrors of war in video game form."...Nice.

GTARulez
GTARulez

its goina be one fun game

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

Put simply, this will be great! I love 'Tactical' shooters, a WW2 setting is very refreshing.

BontraXenderKyl
BontraXenderKyl

I wouldn't compare MoH and of course not CoD to that disappointing game. If this game won't improve itself Brother In Arms isn't in my 'List' anymor.

zambaretz
zambaretz

the best WWII game ever! I compare COD and MOH with old war movies... lot of action without realism! when I am playing BIA I feel like I am in war, this games have the real feeling what happens in WWII. like difference within Band of Brothers/Saving Private Ryan and the rest of war movies

gamehell321
gamehell321

BIA isn't about American Heros, it's about a group of American and British soldiers trying to survive a failing Operation, and trying to save each other.

mickthegreat
mickthegreat

So bored of the standard American Heroes saving the day with WW2. Wish they would do something different. :

BoaMo121
BoaMo121

Just because u cant laser designate a target doesnt make it not worth playing which brings to mind why dont devleopers use a system to call in in artilery strikes using radios in WW2 games.

50pepsi
50pepsi

If all ww2 games are the same then all modern combat games are the same? Anyways get off COD4 nuts with the good graphics crap,it has COD2 graphics with shaders,The game has basic AI who do not flank,the game has FIXED trees,even halo 3 had moving leafs. This is gonna own COD4 and all the other COD's ,not cause its run and gun like those games but cause they put TIME into it and made it great,This game isnt rushed out ever year as COD is. This game tak

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

Please dont get me wrong, im not slating COD5 as its not even out yet, however i reckon its a pretty safe bet that it will be fundementally the same as all the previous installments of the COD WW2 genre (except you can swim in COD5) allbeit with pretty graphics.

Torio795
Torio795

' thenephariouson ' Your completley right mate. This game is going to be big and there's no doubt about it!..This game is going to involve more tactics than all of the call of duty's. This game will put call of duty 5 to shame!

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

klinsi "Unfortunately... there is CoD WW too ! Considering all WW2 game is pratically boring beside blowing & emptying all our mags into Kraut heads" Your havin a laugh right?? COD1, 2, 3 & probably 5 are parctically the same as all MOH games (run around and shoot ****), whereas BIA requires a little more thought (probably the reason you dont like it), whereby you have to plan an attack as opposed to simply running around guns blazing, this is just one element that seperates it from all other 'run of the mill' WW2 shooter.

klinsi
klinsi

Unfortunately... there is CoD WW too ! Considering all WW2 game is pratically boring beside blowing & emptying all our mags into Kraut heads... Plus judging by the review, apparently the AI is still dumb that allowed them to be flanked again & again since BIA 1st ! And what ? OUTNUMBERED the enemy ? even the Baker company is TOTALLY INVINCIBLE when being outnumbered ! So what gonna happened... instead when the Baker outnumbered the enemy then ? still invincible ! They should improve the gameplay & implemented the new gameplay like calling air striker, can take enemy prisoner, escape from enemy pursuer without any weapon, etc that makes the game FUN ! Well.. in the end, baptism of fire just mean blowing all who oppose us !

K-Grogg
K-Grogg

Looks intense, finally a game that doesn't portray the illusion that war is all fun and games by making it all seem easy, bright, and having enemies look un-affected in death. The leg coming off kind of re-assured me that they were going all out!

Player5KJ
Player5KJ

Wait Marsh the guy that talked to red in earned in blood if thats him OH CRAP

bob1lurati
bob1lurati

Looks great, I'm stoked to play this when it comes out

Hesam_Titan
Hesam_Titan

Hi all you game spot! I think is good game and good world of war 2 war like medal of honor and call of duty and i play this game,and i waiting for this game... I waiting.............

mingfu
mingfu

GONNA BE THE BEST BROTHERS IN ARMS GAME!!!!!!!!!!

migver
migver

I think it's gonna be a great game as the past ones. Maybe better.

Hungry_bunny
Hungry_bunny

Hmm, not an ordinary "98% action" "2% story" WW2 shooter?

choton
choton

It seems this one will have heavy emotional effect on the player while playing it. Have been waiting for such a stuff for a long time. Hope it will be worthy.