Call of Duty: Finest Hour (GameCube) Preview

By Nick Cheesman 31.10.2004

It seems as if EA are set to loose their kingship of certain genres this year. Konami's Pro Evolution 4 is hot on the heels of EA's FIFA 2005, and now Activision is setting their eyes on the war genre, hoping to beat EA's Medal of Honour series. The Call of Duty franchise began life on the PC, and thankfully its soon to be console version is not a straight port, but a whole new game.

Spark Unlimited, the team behind Finest Hour, is composed of people who previously worked on the Medal of Honour series, not Rising Sun mind you, so it is safe to assume they know their history. Finest Hour does not merely concentrate on the Normandy invasion in 1941 and what followed after, but goes from events in Russia and the Eastern Front, to the campaign in North Africa, playing as British, Russian and American soldiers.

As the Russians you fight in the battle of Stalingrad, as either a Russian conscript named Aleksandr Sokolov, tank commander Nikolai Badanov or talented sniper Tanya Pavelovna. On the British side of things, the battle takes place in North Africa as part of the SAS against Rommel and the Nazi Panzer tank units playing as commando Edward Carlyle. Finally for the Americans, you play as Charles Walker and Sam Rivers completing the invasion after D-Day into Germany. The range of nationalities and locations means a broader view of the war is being shown in this game, which has been unplayable in the past. It is also a welcome change to be reminded that the Allies weren't just Americans.

Screenshot for Call of Duty: Finest Hour on GameCube

The game begins in Russia with the Nazis invading Stalingrad, and a cut scene introduces you to Aleksandr and informs you of his lack of experience and how he like many others merely had rifle ammo put into his hands and was put onto a boat heading for the Russian city. When the level begins in the boat, the fog prevents view of the city, but the sound makes up for it: explosions, screams, gun fire, planes, all erupt out of the mist and all the while you are being yelled your orders, and the information deserters will be shot. Then the fog clears, and you leap out of the boat into the water and make a dash for the shore. People around you are gunned down, screaming as they fall; explosions send up waves of dirt, and constant fire rips up the ground, while you struggle to keep up with your captain. Eventually you reach the trench and a German machine gun keeps you from progressing. As you try to find an alternate way an explosion creates a slow motion view of blood and mud being thrown into the air. When out of the trenches, you find yourself in the streets, running for cover, with Tanya watching your back with her sniper rifle. Another gun turret blocks your path, and men simply charge at it, with no other way around.

Screenshot for Call of Duty: Finest Hour on GameCube

This style of level is not repeated all the way through the game, though what happens here is good representation of the truth of World War 2. Some levels become focused around acting as a team, however not in a Rainbow 6 way, your team mates' intelligent AI means they will act sensibly and try to assist you whenever possible. However they will not do it all for you, if you lag behind they will wait for you to catch up and if there is a mission for you to do, like using sticky bombs to destroy tanks in North Africa, your team mates will not do it for you. The realism implemented into Finest Hour is extremely high, and while one shot will not kill you, sticking out your head from cover while being fired on, will not leave you fighting fit. As well as this, constantly you are surrounded by other troops and often there are several cinematic moments to give the true image of war. You can even save medical kits to use on your team mates, rather than yourself. The game is divided between three different chapters, the Eastern and Western Front and North Africa campaign, and throughout the game a story is being told of the several people you meet, providing the Finest Hour theme. In each level you are likely to meet one of the other characters, who you will likely play as in the next level.

Screenshot for Call of Duty: Finest Hour on GameCube

Vehicle levels will form a large part of Finest Hour, such as driving tanks to attack Nazi airfields, controlling the movement of the tank and turret separately, and being able to use both the tanks machine guns and main weapon. Both Russian and American tanks will be used, as well as a jeep, which you will be the machine gunner of, and not be driving. All the artillery, uniforms, weapons and other equipment in this game is historically correct and Spark Unlimited has gone to great length to make this game as accurate as possible. Recording all the sounds the actual WW2 guns made and going to the WW2 battle sites to map the levels correctly. Even the accents are spot on, and the British aren't stereotyped! As well as this a full orchestra was used to make Finest Hour's soundtrack and it has Dennis Haysbert (From 24) doing the narrative. War veterans have also been on hand with the game to lend real military tactics for the team AI.

Screenshot for Call of Duty: Finest Hour on GameCube

Final Thoughts

Even if the GameCube version is going to miss the online multiplayer, and it is unlikely a four player multiplayer will be added before its release in a few weeks, everything about Call of Duty looks to be excellent, from the accurate portrayal of World War 2 to authenticity of the whole game. And as long as the Medal of Honour engine is used once again, and the Rising Sun controls are nowhere near this game, Finest Hour could easily become outdo EA's Medal of Honour series.






First Person Shooter



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (2 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   


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