Call of Duty: Finest Hour – PS2 – Review

This is your finest
hour.  A time to stand up and fight for freedom.  A time to put your life on
the line so that others will hopefully not have to do so in the future.  If
you succeed you will be deemed a hero.  If you fail you’ll be treated as a
hero just the same.  No matter what happens, the important thing is that you
answer the call of duty.  That you do not do what is expected of you, but what
every man and woman should do to protect what matters to them most.

Call of Duty quickly became
the new Medal of Honor when it was released for the PC.  It featured the same
composer as Medal of Honor, similar gameplay, weaponry, and a familiar

Call of Duty: Finest Hour
isn’t merely a port of the game you played last year.  This is a
console-exclusive game with content you won’t find anywhere else.  The
controls have been tuned to console gamers’ tastes (once again, Medal of Honor
comes to mind).  Online play is available for those of you with a broadband
Internet connection. 


A significant (and at
first somewhat frustrating) difference between this game and the other war
series is the level of difficulty.  Finest Hour more or less walks you through
the first couple of battles, but once the game gets going, you’re on your
own.  It’s sort of like a pop quiz.  "This is what you do," the teacher says. 
Then all of a sudden they expect you to do it.  No asking for help either. 
Get out there and get the job done.

As I said, this can be
somewhat frustrating at first, especially if you’re not expecting the game to
be difficult.  You’d think with all the hours I’ve clocked in with Halo 2 that
it would help me with this game.  Not the case.  Death can come easily since
you don’t have armor that recharges itself.

Finest Hour’s weapon
selection is superb.  Thompson, M1 Garand, the Browning Automatic Rifle.  It’s
unlikely that you’ve played a war game without firing at least one of these. 
No war game should be without the staples, nor should it be without weapons
from your enemies.  The Browning .30 Cal, Springfield, and M3A1 round out the
rest of the American lineup.  Your enemies get to use weapons like the MP40
submachine gun, the Kar98k, and one of my favorites, the Panzershreck.  It’s
big, made of the finest material, and can take out a tank in just one shot.

There are times when
you’ll be at the helm of a tank or a turret gun.  You may be your company’s
only hope for survival against a heavy assault.  Enemies come on strong and
fast.  Even the scripted attack scenarios will keep you on your toes.  Things
happen that you can’t change – inevitable deaths, explosions, etc. – but
you’re only making it worse if you stand around and do nothing.

The levels are big with
multiple paths to take.  Usually only one of those paths is the correct one,
but the game leaves the door open for you to explore and experiment.  The
extra paths frequently lead to more ammo, health items, or a possible weapon

The Call of Duty series
is trying to be as realistic as possible, so you can’t walk around with more
than one weapon at a time.  Theoretically you might be able to carry two
weapons in real life, but how likely is it that you would do so in the heat of
combat?  Chances are you’d grab the weapon that seemed the most effective for
the situation and dive into action.

This limitation doesn’t
hinder the experience at all.  It did make me think about the situation more
often though.  What lies ahead?  Does the weapon I have load fast enough?  Is
it powerful enough to get the job done?  These are the kinds of questions
you’ll be asking yourself.

The essence of Call of
Duty is its Medal of Honor controls and gameplay.  I won’t call this game a
clone – it’s too much fun to be called that.  But it couldn’t have been made
if the Medal of Honor team hadn’t first laid the groundwork for this

Controlling your
character through bullet- and explosion-filled locations is anything but a
chore.  Strafing is a piece of cake with the left analog stick.  Your aim
loses some accuracy in the PC-to-console translation now that the right analog
stick controls your crosshairs, but as far as console games go, this is one of
the best for aiming.  The programming and constant tweaking made all the
difference.  The differences are so minute at times that you might not even
notice them until you play a first-person shooter with poor programming.

Call of Duty’s visuals
are of the finest quality.  The intro is nearly exact to the intro to Medal of
Honor: Frontline – lots of men in boats, moving toward land, trying to not get
shot by the stream of bullets that never seems to end.  You can move the
camera around to view the action from multiple angles.  The rest of the game
is different, otherwise this would be reason to take the game back and demand
a refund.  It looks great, but I’m glad this is more than a remake of MoH:

Explosions, character
reactions and interactions – it’s top-of-the-line visuals from beginning to
end.  The sound effects are as realistic as I, a person who hasn’t lived
through the real thing, can tell.  Dennis Haysbert provides excellent
commentary on the war at hand.  This is clearly one of the more expensive
games released this year and it shows. 


Love Medal of Honor? 
Love Call of Duty?  Your affection for those games will diminish as your love
blossoms for Call of Duty: Finest Hour.  It’s got everything you love about
the Medal of Honor series: same controls, addictive combat, superior graphics,
and a bounty rustic weapons you won’t see in futuristic or modern-day
first-person shooters.

Scoring Details

for Call of Duty: Finest Hour

Gameplay: 8.9
Medal of Honor-style warfare.  Great controls, stellar action, and several
exciting missions that make the game nearly impossible to put down.

Graphics: 9
A tasty feast for
the eyes – the perfect after-dinner treat that’s satisfying when you stomach
can no longer pack it in.  Not since Medal of Honor: Frontline was released
has a PlayStation 2 game looked so real.

Hey, watch out for
that…!  Oh never mind, I want to see what happens when the vehicle explodes.

Sound: 9
Michael Giacchino
never fails to impress.  His latest epic score is deep and heartfelt,
perfectly complementing the game’s horrific atmosphere.

Difficulty: Medium
One of the more
challenging first-person shooters on the market.  Run-and-shoot tactics won’t
get you very far in this game.

Concept: 7
The original Call
of Duty took the Medal of Honor concept and turned it into the game they
wanted.  Now they’ve done it again, only this time for the console market. 
Their take on first-person shooting is excellent, no argument there.  But is
it innovative?  Does it do something grand that no one else has ever done
before in any shape or form?

Multiplayer: 8.5
Up to 16 players
can shoot to their hearts’ consent, if they have broadband Internet

Overall: 8.7
Call of Duty:
Finest Hour is the best PS2 shooter I’ve played all year.  It’s the best Xbox
shooter as well, second only to Halo 2 (did you really expect any game to top
Bungie this year?).  It’s different from Halo 2, very different, so Xbox
players should be aware of that before jumping in.  Granted, the differences
are good ones.  Some gamers like their shooters to be fast and spacey, like
Halo 2.  Others like their games to be more realistic, more down to earth,
like Call of Duty.  I like both, which is why I must play both.