War game misses its finest hour

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 January, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 31 January, 2005, 12:00am

Product: Activision's Call of Duty; Finest Hour
Price: $199
Pros: Historically accurate weapons and easy-to-learn controls
Cons: Long stretches between events

Let's face it: there are a large number of second world war games on the market and many of these are first-person shooters, where a player's point of view is looking down the sights of a weapon. These include games such as Castle Wolfenstein, the Medal of Honour franchise and the original Call of Duty series for personal computers.

The PC version of Call of Duty raised the bar for the entire genre, with its historical realism and thrilling action. Sadly, this Xbox port by Spark Unlimited of Call of Duty: Finest Hour is a shadow of the original. Don't get me wrong - it's not a bad game, but there are better Xbox games around.

Long cut scenes using actual archival film lead a player into the designated missions, where roles include a Russian soldier and sniper in Stalingrad, a British Desert Rat facing Rommel's panzer tanks in North Africa, and a series of American soldiers breaking through the German heartland.

The campaign pits a player and a small team of artificial intelligence troops against what often seems like the entire Nazi army. These AI squaddies serve as cannon fodder, but they do not die easily. It's all up to the player. The missions are very linear and overscripted - that is, the game relies on a player's character to reach a certain point before triggering the next event. Sometimes it takes about 20 minutes between events. Quitting in the middle or even towards the end of a mission will take the player back to the beginning on the next boot.

Rob Mountfort