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Neville Nicholson
10 Apr, 2007

Call of Duty: Roads to Victory Review

PSP Review | How many roads must a man walk down?
Your heartbeat thuds in your ears as you hold your sub-machine gun close to your chest, your fingers clammy in the early morning mist as you make your way past the flaming wreckage of a Panzer. You hear gunfire peppering faintly in the distance as you duck into a nearby trench. Where are your comrades? Gone. Maybe they went on ahead without you after that skirmish… Or maybe their bodies lay strewn in the mud. No time to think about it now. Was that a guard up ahead? Your footfalls are cushioned by the moist, inky soil as you move forward, fingers flexing and caressing the trigger of your weapon as you prepare to make a break for cover. If you hesitate, you’re as good as dead. Your body tenses in preparation as you launch into action… And then, suddenly… “Hello?” You glance up. “Yes, you. Next please.” The bank teller is looking squarely in your direction…

There’s certainly something to be said for being able to enjoy the World War II first person shooter experience anywhere at anytime. If nothing else, it’s a testament to how far portable gaming has come in the last decade. That said, the point is just as easily made that the PC and consoles retain many advantages when it comes to these more ambitious games, and Call of Duty: Roads to Victory serves well to illustrate that point.

At least they remember to drive on the left side while in Europe.

At least they remember to drive on the left side while in Europe.
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If you’ve played any Call of Duty title before, you’ll be in familiar territory here. Very familiar territory – think, your own backyard. In broad daylight. With a map. Throughout the course of this game, you’ll play through 14 levels as American, Canadian and British soldiers, take out machine gun nests with grenades, order aerial assaults on incoming waves of tanks, take down enemy fighters from the turret of a bomber… and maybe even kill one or two Nazis along the way.

As could be anticipated, Roads to Victory’s first “trial by fire” is the controls. And it’s a test that the game barely manages to pass – if only because most PSP shooters are crippled to the same or greater extent. There are four alternative control methods, each with their own pros and cons, with a heavy favoritism toward the latter. Whilst console and PC gamers debate the use of a second analogue stick for aiming in FPS titles, the PSP lacks even this, leaving the face buttons with the unenviable aiming task. As a way of compensating for this, the developers have included an auto-aim feature, and while this proves a valuable asset in some cases, it can be just as often a hindrance, as the effectiveness of the auto-aim can vary wildly. On some occasions, we were looking directly down our sights at a German soldier, firing away happily, yet no bullet made contact, as the auto-aim was being fashionably late and hadn’t yet shown up to the party.

Other glitches present themselves from time to time, including collision detection, failure to register hits, and even the game crashing entirely.

"That's a negative, Ghostrider. The pattern is full."

"That's a negative, Ghostrider. The pattern is full."
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Level progression is strictly linear, and while a few choice sections serve to break up the monotony (the most prominent of which is the opportunity to take to the skies and blast away at swarms of German fighters), the majority of the game is strictly by-the-books. Walk down street – shoot Nazi. Go around building – shoot another Nazi. Several hundred Nazis later, you’ll be wondering where the Nazi-breeding facilities are located, just so you can just plant an explosive device and never have to see another Nazi again.

Despite all this, the graphics hold up well. Though notably inferior to Xbox 360 and PS3 shooters, the game serves to show that the PSP can hold its own against the PS2, producing more-than-acceptable visuals with a generally smooth framerate. It won’t be winning any artistic design awards, but the graphics are clear enough on the PSP’s widescreen, though perhaps a little dark in places.

"How do I tune in Triple J on this thing?"

"How do I tune in Triple J on this thing?"
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The orchestrated soundtrack is what you would come to expect from the Call of Duty series, though there’s very little of it during gameplay. Sound effects are a mixed bag, as whilst each weapon has its own distinct voice, and explosions are loud, the sample rates could be better and the voice acting is generally not quite up to par compared with its console brethren.

What is less forgivable is the AI – or rather, the lack of it. Perhaps towards the end of the war, the more intelligent Nazis had been killed off. Such would be the only remotely logical excuse for the behaviour of the soldiers in this game. The ones with more than a half dozen brain cells left will stand in the open to return fire, while the less blessed individuals will simply stand there while you approach, and only make an effort to fight back when you’ve riddled their bodies with bullets. Who knows… Maybe they’re pacifists. There’s little literature documenting the long-term effects of Ghandi’s non-violent resistance philosophy on Nazi Germany.

In a way, though, it’s fortunate that your enemy is as mentally ill-equipped as it is, given the game’s lack of checkpoints or mid-level saves. Which, aside from being an annoyance in any title, is especially poor form for a handheld game.

You call that a tank? This is a tank.

You call that a tank? This is a tank.
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Of course such design flaws are made moot when online multiplayer is provided… which, unfortunately, it isn’t. The game supports up to 6 players in traditional game modes such as Capture the Flag and Deathmatch in Ad Hoc mode, which can be entertaining with friends… if such friends own both a PSP and a copy of the game, as Game Sharing isn’t supported. If you do manage to get involved in some multiplayer mayhem, you can take some solace in the fact that your companions are going to have as much problems aiming as you do.

In the end, Call of Duty: Roads to Victory is a mostly unremarkable title with generic gameplay and serviceable – if still substandard – controls. Its one redeeming quality is that it’s still one of the best first-person shooters on the PSP – which, conveniently, is a bit like being the most polite Frenchman in Paris.
The Score
A valiant effort for what it is, but still falls short in terms of control and level design. But if you absolutely must have your World War II fix on the go, you could do worse. 6
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Call of Duty: Roads to Victory Content

Call of Duty: Roads to Victory Preview
20 Feb, 2007 Spoiler alert: We won!
Call of Duty: Roads to Victory storms into view
06 Jan, 2007 All out war in your pocket.
Call of Duty: Roads to Victory detailed
27 Oct, 2006 First images revealed.
5 Comments
7 years ago
This is definitely a fun game- probably the best FPS on the PSP, alongside Brothers in Arms.
7 years ago
i thought brothers in arms on the psp was perfectly playable. of course it was abridged quite a bit in relation to the console versions but i still had a great time with it. despite the occasional horrendous frame rate dip, which would redner it unplayable at times. the thing that grated the most was that i had played all of the missions before. lazy development by ubisoft. at least roads to victory is an all new game.
7 years ago
Many people state that a single analogue stick automatically renders FPS titles on the PSP a few notches below standard even before said game is released. I can think of an FPS game that was, and still is exceptionally popular to this very day that was played with one analogue stick. GoldenEye on the Nintendo 64.

Why not delegate this control scheme to the typical PSP first person shooter?

* Analogue 'nub' (I hate that word) - Move forward and backwards and turn left and right
* L Trigger - Reload / Hold whilst pressing up or down on Analogue Nub to cycle weapons.
* R Trigger - Brings up Aiming Reticule which is moved around with Analogue Nub
* [ ] - Strafe Left
* X - Fire
* /\ - Toggle Crouch / Look Up or Down when holding /\ in conjunction with Analogue Nub
* O - Strafe Right

D-Pad Up - Misc / User Defined
D-Pad Down - Zoom Weapon
D-Pad Left - Misc / User Defined
D-Pad Right - Misc / User Defined
7 years ago
Yes, but Goldeneye has not aged very well. Have you tried picking it up recently? It's extremely frustrating in single player, and the real advantage comes in multiplayer simply because everyong has to suffer with the game's flaws. If Brothers in Arms or Call of Duty on the PSP were released at the same time as Goldeneye, we'd be trumpeting them to this day as well.
7 years ago
At least Sony should get the 2 analogues in the PSP2. It's a little frustrating that this brilliant bit of hardware is gimped by not allowing devs to effectivley port a range of popular console titles and genres. I'm a little sick of PSP driving games.

Syphon Filter does seem to have pretty decent controls IMHO, and I think it's on of the best PSP shooters. I was looking forward to COD, but I decided to reserve my judgement until I read some reviews.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  28/03/2007 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $69.95 AU
Publisher:
  Activision
Genre:
  Shooter
Year Made:
  2006
Players:
  6

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