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Mark Marrow
14 Jan, 2005

Call of Duty: Finest Hour Review

PS2 Review | Sadly, this isn’t Call of Duty’s finest hour.
Call of Duty on the PC was a godsend for PC gamers who either enjoyed First-Person shooters or War games. It came out with a bang, took out some amazing awards, and now Activision has decided to bring the world-war classic to the luxury of your home consoles. The transition came at a cost though. The game has been striped of mostly all of the memorably aspects of the original and the game just doesn’t seem to have that special ‘spark’ that sets it aside from the rest.

Russia, Britain & America

Similar to the original Call of Duty, Call of Duty: Finest Hour spans across three separate mini-campaigns that will see gamers playing through the perspective of Russian, British and the American soldiers during certain battles and events of World War II. Gamers will first begin the game in the heart of Stalingrad fighting off German forces in a bid to reclaim the town, then proceed to North Africa to begin the British portion of the game, and finally making a final assault on West Germany from the Americans. Each campaign will see gamers defending locations against hordes of Nazis, leading tank assaults, jumping on the back of a jeep and machine-gunning down incoming Nazis and blowing up a few tanks along the way with some sticky-bombs. The atmosphere of the game remains, as each mission is as exciting, compelling and frustrating as the original. The historical factors are intact and the game continues to keep you up-to-date with the current situation of the war and the armies involved in it – helpful for the gamers out of the know with possibly the biggest turning point in the world’s history.

The newest addition to Call of Duty: Finest Hour is the scripted cut-scenes witnessed during certain missions and the pre-briefing, black and white, footage before each campaign begins, which doesn’t do much apart from giving gamers history lessons. As usual, Call of Duty: Finest Hour begins each mission with a quick briefing highlighting the main tactics and achievable goals for the gamer to accomplish.

Throughout the game, AI-controlled comrades will accompany you and fight along your side during levels. Thankfully, missions are no longer solely dependent on the gamer themselves infiltrating Nazi bases, killing all Nazis within, stealing blueprints and blowing up any remains. No, however, these AI-controlled comrades will help you during your missions with covering fire, tactical movement and will often die. On most occasions, gamers will be able to successfully beat levels without these comrades, although they’re nice to have around during certain missions that’ll see Germans flying out left, right and centre, all of which is too much for one person to take on alone – after all war was never a one-person job.

Friends of War

Friends of War
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Gamers will find themselves going through the game in various situations. Gamers will find themselves fighting alongside fellow comrades, commencing in sniper-based missions, leading tank assaults, riding in the back of a jeep with a machinegun in hand, house-to-house fighting and a lot more that holds enough variety that prevents gamers from getting too bored of doing the same sort of missions over and over again. Missions are as exciting as the next and you’ll often be disappointed when finishing them, since most missions don’t take too long to complete.

Shell Shock

The problem with Call of Duty: Finest Hour is the lack of the much-needed checkpoints in certain levels. Once diving deeper into the game, the difficultly jumps drastically and some gamers might begin to find missions are a lot harder to complete, and these lack of checkpoints tend to hurt the game’s gameplay. There are certain levels in the game that are a breeze to finish, no troubles at all. However, there will be certain levels that are much lengthier and harder where checkpoints are an essential. Most levels are straightforward enough that gamers will be able to wrap their minds around the way each level progresses and will become accustomed to the main track to follow, but it wouldn’t have been too hard to ask for a couple more checkpoints here and there to forbid the frustration of replaying certain sequences over and over again.

Another problem is the controls of the game. Despite there being several different control modes, all made to fit certain gamers needs, there are still apparent problems in each design that’ll make the first couple of hours of playing a little awkward. Since Call of Duty: Finest Hour doesn’t have the luxury of having the freedom of what a computer mouse does it’s a little hard to accomplish the exact feel and style that the original Call of Duty had. Tank missions are a real pain in the butt as well, since the controls are a little all over the place. Sure enough gamers will find themselves mastering the controls in no time, but it doesn’t escape the fact that the controls could’ve been worked around so that these tanks missions run a lot smoother.

Tanktasic

Tanktasic
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The later missions with tanks are no doubt some of the most memorable missions out of the lot though. During the American campaign gamers will have the opportunity to lead an assault on the Nazis in General Patton's Third Army 761st "Black Panther" battalion, a very historical event during World War II. These missions open up some great fun, as gamers will find themselves blasting away at enemy tanks, crushing things and having a bit of sniper-fun with the tank’s long-range cannon.

Lock & Load

The weaponry in Call of Duty: Finest Hour is a bit awkward at times. Like previously, gamers will be able to get their hands on an array of weaponry at their disposal, such as automatic weapons all the way down to rocket launches. Each weapon has their own advantages, feel, sound and look. For example when firing a PPSH submachine gamers will find that the accuracy of their shots won’t be on target as the cross-hatch is indicating, since the weapon is an extremely powerful and is hard-to-handle. Whilst on the other hand you’ll have a Kar88 rifle that’ll barely effect your movement or accuracy.

Gamers will only be able to carry up to two weapons at any given time, along with grenades or any other type of explosives. The main issue with grenades however, is how they’re used. Gamers have no control over how far they’ll be thrown or how long they can ‘cook’ them up for, since gamers will simple press a button to activate an animated sequence of your character throwing a grenade. Another huge issue is the fact it’s hard to tell whether or not an enemy is dead, dying or still alive. Despite there being a red crosshatch that indicates that you made a success hit on an enemy, you don’t know if they’re dead or dying. Dying consist of enemies going through over-acted death animations. Some of the animations make the game look more realistic sure, but it usually presents confusion in knowing if the enemy is still alive or jumping around in his death sequence.

Never Fight Alone

In addition to the 10-hour single player mode, some gamers might find themselves participating in Call of Duty: Finest Hour’s multiplayer mode. Again, for reasons still unknown, multiplayer is simply an online-only mode - I really feel sorry for those Gamecube owners out there. The game would’ve been a perfect outing for a simple four port controller (and maybe some additional AI controlled bots) death match, capture the flag or any of the other magnificent multiplayer modes found in most common First-Person shooter titles of today’s generation. For those interested in the online multiplayer, the Xbox and PS2 versions of Call of Duty: Finest Hour allow up to 16 player online action. The traditional multiplayer modes remain - Deathmatch, Team death match, Search and Destroy and Capture the flag – and there’s a selection of eight different maps to pick from. The multiplayer mode is plagued with terrible flaws that make this mode quite frustrating to watch and play. Animation is often missing, such as there being no leg movement from characters, and oddly enough there’s the option for players to change teams at any given time. Obviously no one likes to be on a loosing team, so changes come up often. The online mode doesn’t offer enough players to go up against and obviously other gamers realise that Call of Duty: Finest Hour doesn’t even begin to touch the success of the original’s multiplayer action.


A War Of Wonders

Presentation of the game is above average and will surprise gamers on certain occasions. Environments are detailed nicely, character models a well defined and detailed and the effects of explosions from bombs, grenades and tanks tend to look pretty well done, despite causing slowdowns at times. The texturing in a lot of the areas in the game looks very rough and plain. Call of Duty: Finest Hour also suffers from some noticeable slowdowns during the more intense and action-packed missions.

Fire in the hole!

Fire in the hole!
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On the audio side of the game, you wouldn’t expect any better from a Call of Duty title, as most of the audio produced is as atmospheric as the original’s score. The mixture of tracks throughout the game builds up a great mixture of compelling, petrifying and exciting moments that’ll immerse gamers into the dark and action-packed world of Call of Duty.

Tomorrow’s Another Day

No, Call of Duty: Finest Hour isn’t particularly Call of Duty’s finest hour. It’s a good attempt, but the game is missing several elements, produced in the original, that makes this game lack that unique and fresh feel that the original Call of Duty had. The transition from PC to console has hurt the game in several areas of presentation, audio and that natural spark that’s presented in a lot of today’s PC titles. The intense and dark feeling of Call of Duty has changed into a very bland First Person Shooter title that’s trying to be like all the other War-based First Person Shooters out there. The controls aren’t as accurate as the original, the look and feel of the game is nowhere near as successful as the original and the multiplayer is just a poor attempt that has hurt this game greatly – for crying out loud it’s a console, it needs bot supported multiplayer maps. Aside from all the problems that plague this game, Call of Duty fans will most likely be the only gamers out there that’ll appreciate Call of Duty: Finest Hour for what it is. For anyone else wanting to experience the game it’s highly suggested to give it a rent, or at least wait until a decent price drop is made.
The Score
A game that doesn’t particularly tower over any of the other wartime First Person Shooters out there and Call of Duty: Finest Hour has proven that this franchise is strictly a PC title. It’s not worth the trouble when there’s greater wartime FPS out there or coming up. 7
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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2 Comments
9 years ago
bit of a shame...

CoD on PC is up there amongst my favourite PC FPS games... i think still have to rent this...
9 years ago
I think Activision should stick to Infinity Ward. United Offensive and Finest Hour were both below par. Seems that COD is turning out to be MoH
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now
Publisher:
  Activision
Developer:
  Spark Unlimited
Players:
  1-4

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