Call of Duty: Finest Hour PS2 Review

Medal of Honour: Rising Sun was largely a disappointment. It just didn’t feel like a MOH game, the new jungle environment was way too plastic looking; the music was shockingly bad and a distant away from the rousing score of other MOH games, it was without doubt one of the most disappointing games of 2003 and this coming from huge MOH fans too. Call of Duty: Finest Hour on the other hand is everything the underwhelming Rising Sun should have been.

It doesn’t come as a huge shock when you learn that many of the original MOH team were involved in Finest Hour and what a job they’ve done too. The graphics may be merely adequate at best, but when you consider the amount that’s going on, it lifts the visual quality from little more than average to “fairly impressive”. The engine generates numbers of soldiers on screen at a time, that any MOH game can only dream of and the war torn environments give an impressive feeling of immersion, which is always a good thing in our book.

Unlike the majority of war based games, which expect you to believe that one man alone won the war. Finest Hour forgoes any of that John Rambo nonsense and has you accompanied for the most part by a team and it’s even possible for many of them to die too, which frustratingly – thanks to their action film hero method of thinking – happens in just about every fire-fight they are involved in, but still it’s a nice inclusion all the same.

Unlike most games which has just America and Germany battling it out, Finest Hour is more realistic in the sense that you get to see things from the perspective of three allied nations: Russia, Britain and America. The characters you control aren’t of the usual silent type either and actually speak during the course of the game, however the game is still devoid of any sort of cohesive storyline, which means you don’t give a toss about the fate of this bunch, which is a real missed opportunity to say the least.

It’s true that largely you’ll be blowing things up or shooting people and watching them die in an oh so satisfying manner, thanks to some stunning death routines. But Finest Hour offers more variety than the MOH series. There are escort missions where you accompany a person or even a tank through a level and a particular tricky mission where you even have to protect a building from an enemy assault for a full ten intense minutes.

Other missions have you in control of a lumbering tank, which to begin with is rather painful to get used to. The game offers you two camera views for these sections, a third person view which is largely useless for targeting your enemies but useful to navigate around objects. The first person view on the other hand allows you to target enemies with ease, but can make travelling round the levels a bit of a chore at times. These levels aren’t as good as the on foot sections and it took us an age to control the bloody things in any decent manner, but they’re nevertheless still a worthwhile addition to the game.

Dying in Finest Hour can be punishing to say the least, as at times large chunks of the game may have to be replayed because of ludicrously placed checkpoints and the fact that your character is far from a walking tank, even on the lowest level of difficultly. On the good side it does give you a good sense of achievement when you do finally overcome the odds and polish sections off that have taken you an almost unreasonable amount of time to complete, not to mention almost driving you to utter insanity.

Once you finally manage to complete the single player game, you might want to try the online multiplayer out. The modes are generic without a doubt and Xbox owners should stick to Halo 2 and Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow, but the PS2 doesn’t have much to offer in this regard, so it’s well worth playing for those who only possess Sony’s machine. The game is unfortunately devoid of any form of offline multiplayer. Which is a bit of a sore point especially for those who don’t have their machines hooked up for net play.

It’s far better than the disappointing Rising Sun in just about every department. The graphics aren’t artificial looking and the music – although not as good as Medal of Honor’s best – is decent, which can’t be said for Rising Sun’s horrendous score. Call of Duty is quickly moving into Medal of Honor’s territory and EA’s next shooter needs to be something special to beat Activision’s fine effort. We predict a bloody battle is approaching and Call of Duty: Finest Hour has currently got the upper hand.