XBOX REVIEW: WORLD WAR II COMBAT: ROAD TO BERLIN

This game is so laughable that I have to wonder if the subtitle, Road to Berlin, is in reference to those old, wacky Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, Road Movies. by Cole Smith

February 6, 2006 - There are a lot of WWII games out there. That means two things. The market is hot for such games, and there is a lot of competition. You would just expect World War II Combat: Road to Berlin to be a good game. The fact that it's on the Xbox lends it a credibility that other consoles just can't grant. Of course this is all speculation but it's important to take note of how well some marketing concepts work. Just the fact that the game is available for the Xbox gives it a perceived level of quality. Fans of WWII will no doubt seek it out since there is a rabid market for such games. But once they get it home and find out that it sucks, they feel shocked, betrayed, angry and bitter at the very industry that they have come to love and trust. Hey, that's what you get for not stopping here first.

World War II Combat: Road to Berlin is not a good game and one that, like any war, should be avoided at all cost - even as a rental. It's a rushed job that's full of bugs, poor graphics and bad sounds. There isn't one facet of the game that isn't marred by some defect.

The game takes place in the final days of WWII when American and Russian soldiers are trying to salvage important prototypes, documents and scientists from Berlin. Through 10 missions you will race to find the appropriate items while defending yourself from both the enemy and the allies. Yes, that's right. The allies. Sometimes members of your own battalion will take shots at you. It's bad enough when enemies that are in the distance and virtually impossible to reach are taking shots at you but when it's your own guys you don't need me to tell you how screwed up that is.

A sniper rifle comes as standard issue for a few missions and you can use it to pick off some distant enemies but sometimes it can be too little too late. There is supposed to be some targeting reticle that acts like a radar, pointing out where the enemy is located. It just doesn't work and winds up giving you false information. You can't pick up or otherwise change weapons in each level. You are given a primary and secondary weapon and that's all you have. There aren't even any health packs located in any of the levels. I can get behind realism but if you're going to do it, do it all the way. Let me pick up weapons from dead enemies. Let me carry more weapons in my inventory. Don't make the sniper rifle so slow to load and don't have it reset the scope to default after every shot. Too much to ask? Apparently so.

On the plus side, there is plenty of ammo to be found but the scripted events force you to play trial and error. The lack of health packs places too much importance on staying alive which tends to limit the fun since you'll be less inclined to get into the middle of the action and mix it up.

You'll start back at the last checkpoint if killed. The levels aren't very big and the checkpoints are evenly distributed. In some respects you can play this like a football game, making a little progress here and there, inching your way to the finish line. One thing you will want to take into consideration is passing the final checkpoint with very little heath left. It might feel good to reach a safety area but remember that you don't get any health boosts when you continue from that checkpoint so you might lose it all and have to start the level all over again which is the only place you'll start with full health.

Playing with the bots isn't much fun but you better get used to it because you'll be very lucky to find anyone else online playing this game. The bots just perform the obvious with no finesse or strategy. They seem to have strange ability that allows them to control their weapons better than you can. Aiming is not much of a problem for these supersoldiers. Could it be that the CPU is on their side?

The graphics look like cardboard cutouts of buildings and vehicles. Most of the environmental details such as the backgrounds are basically paintings that permit very little interactivity. Details such as separately animated parts on vehicles, such as wheels or tracks, is virtually non-existence. The overall color scheme is drab and dreary with too much flat earth tone. The announcer delivers his lines with nary a personality and the sound effects are equally weak.

Just looking, listening and playing this game is enough to make one curse a blue streak. So if you want to see no evil, hear no evil or speak no evil, then I would suggest you avoid WWII Combat.

By Cole Smith
CCC Senior Writer

Rating out of 5
World War II Combat: Road To Berlin (Xbox)
2.5
Graphics
Stiff and awkward, like a nerd on his first date.
2.0
Control
Weapon control is very loose making good aiming virtually impossible.
2.0
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Sound effects are voiceovers are weak but if you listen very closely they are telling you to leave this game alone.
1.1
Play Value
The only thing you're bound to repeat is your trip to the store where you bought this game so as to return in.
1.9
Overall Rating - Avoid
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: X, PC
Dev: Direct Action
Pub: Groove Games
Release: Jan 2006
Players: 1 - 4 online
Review by Cole

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best