|System: X360, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Nfusion||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Midway||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Q4 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by CJ Irelan
The console gaming front is littered with the bodies of countless games based on the Second World War. Though some have garnered attention for their ingenuity, such as Battlefield 1942, or their graphical prowess, such as Call of Duty on the Xbox 360, the games remain essentially the same. Run through ruined cities, shoot Nazis, drive tanks, fly planes, and attempt to survive.
With only so many battles to choose from and no Achilles-like heroes to put you in the place of, the development teams of the various gaming companies are always on the lookout for something new to insert. Much like bailing water out of a sinking ship, this has mixed success. The latest entry into the WWII gaming world is Hour of Victory, yet another three-word name intended to evoke images of gallantry and daring-do. Midway, responsible for games like Rampage: World Tour, Mortal Kombat, and the Unreal series, steps in to put its hat in the proverbial ring. No stranger to shooters, Midway is looking to do something a little different.
The trailers are less than awe-inspiring. They are filled to the brim with the same cliches that players have been seeing since Medal of Honor. "Three heroes. Three destinies. One purpose. Hour of Victory" as the tagline seems to be the most cinematic yet, much like a summer blockbuster. "I am a soldier and this is my world. Here there is no beauty. There is only pain. There is only death. Every single minute can seem like a year and every single year can seem like a century. War is an ugly trip to hell," the game goes on to say. The gaming community has heard it before, and they'll hear it again. Assuming that there's more than one trooper reading poignant, if formulaic, lines, there is always more to a game than its trailer. What could make a gamer sift through the piles of similar games to pick this one up? A shift in gears, as Midway would have it, is what this game offers.
"We're taking an Indiana Jones approach, versus 'Saving Private Ryan,' to the World War II genre," said Mark Caldwell, executive producer. While it is unlikely that the Ark of the Covenant or the Holy Grail will make an appearance, the theory is certainly a novel one. Gamers who may be sick of gloom-and-doom war games, though accurate in concept, would perhaps be more open to an action-adventure version of this particular horse.
The gameplay switch seems firmly rooted in a totally different game, Brute Force. Players will be able to switch between three different characters with different skills and abilities. While the last thing that Microsoft needs is another Brute Force, the notion is sound. The three characters are simple enough in concept, stealth, power, and precision.
The stealth character, Major Ambrose Taggert is an OSS undercover operative who uses a knife to assassinate his targets while remaining undetected. He can also hide in shadows and speak fluent German, which could lead to interesting opportunities for playing both sides of the field. Other than that, he can clip communications wires and unlock doors to get to other parts of the battlefield. The power trooper is a British SAS commando named Lt. William Ross who specializes in shooting everything in sight and battering down heavy gates to get from point A to points abroad. The sniper, Sergeant Calvin Blackbull, uses his sniper rifle like a fish uses gills and can run faster and leap farther than the others. He can also climb ladders and, as in the latest Call of Duty, hold his breath to draw a better bead on the enemy.
Questions about why one character cannot perform the seemingly simple tasks that one of the others can are already being raised. But then, why does an archaeologist know how to ride a horse or fight on the side of a moving transport truck? Suspension of disbelief is a large part of gaming. If those who play the game enjoy it, then some quirks will slip by. The colorful characters are being made out as the draw to this game, so they should remain true to their character as the game progresses.
Progressing through the game will be linear, with rally points scattered at each juncture to switch from one character to the other. From there, the choice is left to the player on how best to proceed. Though the characters may be broadly different from each other, they all share the ability to drive any vehicle in the game. While it is not thrust upon the player to do so, it does alleviate the straight-forward level design.
The game will use the Unreal 3.0 engine, which means that the game should be very similar to Unreal Tournament 3, as far as visuals. The engine will also allow you to send ragdoll Nazis 30 feet in the air with a single grenade, which is a large change from past games of this type. With a summer release in the future for this game, the fighting men will once more pick up their guns, but will march to a different tune this time.
CCC Freelance Writer