Video Game Review

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Platform: PS2, Xbox
  • ESRB: Mature
  • Players: 1-16
  • Online: Yes
  • Developer: Spark Unlimited
  • Publisher: Activision
  • Suggested Retail: $49.99
  • Graphics: A-
  • Sound: A
  • Gameplay: B-
  • Replay: B
  • Fun Factor: B+
  • Reviewer’s Wild Card: B+


Activision's latest makes a fine game

By James Stevenson     November 22, 2004

© Activision

While CALL OF DUTY has been stuck on the PC for quite some time, it's finally going to make the jump to consoles. Behind this leap is Spark Unlimited, comprised mainly of the guys who worked on the MEDAL OF HONOR games for EA before leaving after completing FRONTLINE. After playing CALL OF DUTY: FINEST HOUR, it's apparent why RISING SUN wasn't nearly as good.

FINEST HOUR takes place across three different campaigns, the eastern German front playing as the Russians, North Africa as a member of Popski's Private Army, and as the Americans charging into Germany. Throughout the course of the game you'll paly as different characters including a female Russian sniper, a member of the "Black Panther" tank brigade, a British vet, and a Russian teen among others.

Each character has a great story that is backed up with lots of great historical details. The accuracy of the game was helped by survivors of World War II, along with two military advisors. ABC On-Air Military Correspondent and National Review Contributing Editor John Hillen along with Col. (ret.) Hank Keirsey provided information about military tactics of the day to ensure authenticity. You do quickly jump out of each story though, which is my only minor gripe about the stories.

It really shows and one of the most amazing parts of the game is how beautifully cinematic it is. The opening sequence is absolutely incredible as you charge up a hill towards the burning Stalingrad. The vast amount of things on screen in these moments are just absolutely stunning and will give you memories of the bombing of Pearl Harbor in RISING SUN the big difference is that FINEST HOUR delivers well beyond its first level.

The tank missions are a good example of this in one sequence you are blasting airplanes down as they are attempting to take off. Another great example is a jeep ride up a mountain in the desert of North Africa. The cinematic nature of the game never really runs dry.

Other than that, the game is the fairly typical WWII shooter. There are some minor gripes such as enemies death animation being hard to recognize or how grenades work, but none of it really matters in the end as the game is a lot of fun, despite some minor tweaks that can be made in future additions.



would like to see more of North Africa in a future game. It might be one of my favorite campaigns in a WWII shooter. It's such a break from the typical levels that we've played over and over again and it's just naturally beautiful with lots of light and deep blue skies. This was my favorite area in the one-player game.

Outside of that, the multiplayer mode allows you to jump online with 15 friends and get into all of the typical game modes. It's a great addition to the game, particularly for PS2 owners who don't have the ability to play HALO 2 online and have had their fill of UP YOUR ARSENAL.

CALL OF DUTY: FINEST HOUR looks great, particularly the animation and the weapons. At a press event recently we were handed mock replicas of WWII-circa weapons and it was pretty amazing to see how well they have been recreated. The levels look great too and this is a beautiful game all around. There is also fantastic sound. The music will invoke your emotions in the way the best John Williams soundtracks do. Gunfire and other sound effects are recreated exactly was well as their weapons are graphically modeled.

Fans of WWII shooters can't pass this game up. It's the best of its kind on the consoles with the historical details, cinematic gameplay and fun factor overwhelming some unoriginality and glitches. Any World War II buff or first-person shooter fan heed the call.

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