Call of Duty: Finest Hour Review


With the success of Call of Duty on PCs it was only a matter of time before the World War II shooter made the jump to consoles. Rather than a straight port of the excellent PC version of the game console gamers are being treated to their own version of the game, although some of the memorable battles made the transition.

Screenshots
The battle for Stalingrad is fierce.

Call of Duty: Finest Hour puts you in the shoes of soldiers from the Russian, British, and American armies, from the streets of Stalingrad, to the deserts of North Africa, and on to Western Europe. Before each mission you are given a little background information on the soldier you will play through introductory cutscenes. It adds an element of humanity to the game as you learn their reasons and motivations for becoming part of the war effort, but your identity in a mission does not have any effect on the gameplay. This is probably a good thing as switching characters three or so times in each of the campaigns would make the game feel disjoint otherwise.

Like its PC cousin, Finest Hour delivers some memorable missions. The game begins with a bang as you find yourself in Stalingrad on a boat crossing the Volga under heavy enemy fire. As your propaganda officer attempts to motivate you with threats of shooting anyone showing signs of cowardice your boat hits the shore and you are thrown into action with a clip of bullets but no gun to go with it. The developers were obviously inspired by the movie Enemy at the Gates and it makes for some intense action. Not all of the missions deliver this kind of drama – in fact, you will soon find yourself playing a sniper as well – but every mission does deliver some solid gameplay and plenty of action.

In addition to playing various foot soldiers you’ll also have the chance to take on the role of a tanker. You control both the main gun and machine gun while in a tank and firing the weapons is strictly a point and click affair. Sim aficionados may be disappointed that you do not have to account for things such as range and gun angle while firing, but being a tank jockey in the game is fun nonetheless.

Missions in the game are of the heavily scripted, move from one designated spot to the next variety, but the missions are well-designed enough for you not to really notice this while playing. There is always plenty of action and the enemy AI puts up a good fight even though their numbers and starting position are constrained by the script. They do a good job of using cover and maneuvering to fire at you from multiple angles. The AI of your fellow soldiers is good as well. They are actually competent allies in a firefight and their actions are pretty realistic. Unlike some shooters, your allies are vulnerable to enemy fire so it’s not just yourself that you need to look out for in battle.