Despite what videogames have told us in the past, World War II wasn't won with a bolt action rifle wielded by an invincible Hollywood action hero - obviously, it was a conflict lost by many. Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway is relentless in emphasising this with an engaging psychological story and high-intensity combat that both entertains and petrifies you every step of the way.
To hell and back
Hell's Highway does an admirable job of expressing a range of emotions through the story and characters in the cinematics, then capturing them back through the player as they witness the degrading psyche of series-protagonist Sergeant Matt Baker.
A pragmatic approach to gore means that genuine realism translates to gameplay as well; blood sprays and stains as grenades remove limbs and sniper rounds carve chunks off of enemy heads in a way that will disgust rather than delight - but the giddy happiness of mowing down chumps comes full force with the Action Cam, a zooming, slow-motion look at the grisly results of your wicked marksmanship.
It feels out of place, but the up-close-and-personal look at the realism will leave you awed.
The poignant story takes place under gorgeous sunlit scenery as well as gritty cities, and the with smoke, dirt and blood soaring through the air as mortar shells smash and gunshots ring it's easy to become completely engrossed by the authentic experience.
First person strategy
To keep combat fresh along the way, you'll alternate between strategic team-based battles and lone wolf escapades, both of which force you to keep behind cover - which is often destructible - to avoid the dead-eye Nazi opposition. Group fights require utilising the simplistic commands to order machine gun or bazooka squads to suppress or flank the relatively intelligent enemies, adding strategic depth to otherwise straightforward firefights.
These strengths fail to carry over to the online multiplayer component of BiA: HH, which is an uninspired objective-based Counter Strike wannabe that's plagued with crippling lag and frustrating glitches that often left me stuck to walls, spawned without a weapon or shooting a gun that didn't inflict damage.
You'll want to stick to the single player campaign anyway, as the superbly told story of Baker and his unit will captivate you through multiple completions. As the best realisation of WWII in a game to date, Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway explains why war is hell - with loads of "hell yeah!" moments along the way.
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