Day of Defeat
Downloadable content is easily one of the best new features to grace this current generation of consoles. Allowing gamers quick armchair access to scores of demos and extra maps, armor, and whatnot, some content is outstanding and a blast to play while some merely scratch the nostalgic itch. Still, this service is a cheap, efficient way for pushers…AHEM…publishers to give game junkies their much-needed shot in the arm. So why did nFusion and Midway not take advantage of this feature with their World War II-themed Hour of Victory?
[image1]From the beginning, it’s clear the “victory” in question is surely not won against its FPS forbearers. The “hour” is short, visually bland, and completely devoid of content and atmosphere. Can retail shelf-fodder truly have a cheaper, more lucrative deployment scheme than this? If anything, Midway could’ve cut the cost of mass producing CDs.
One of the first notable things about Hour of Victory is the visuals, and not in a good way. While they are mostly bland, they are rendered with Unreal Engine 3.0. So you can expect impressive explosions and very smooth surfaces - maybe too smooth. Even rock and sand are polished with shoe-shine smoothness. Furthermore, though character models are fine, their movements are amazingly stiff and their eyes are completely dead.
Marching across Europe and North Africa, players have the option to play as one of three soldiers who each possess specific skills. You can infiltrate, snipe, perform silent kills with Major Taggert; climb conveniently placed ropes with Sergeant Blackbull; or go in guns blazing with Lieutenant Ross. The ad copy will have you believe that these three separate characters lend to three separate experiences. Wrong!
[image2]Each level begins and ends pretty much the same despite which soldier you select, apart from several short alternate routes. For instance, while Ross walks up the street laying waste to everyone; Taggert can pick the lock on a suspiciously glowing door, sneak around the fracas, and reappear on the same road a few doors down.
Sgt. Blackbull’s path is usually the high ground, but it’s not much different than the same path as the other two. Worse yet, he can’t even carry his own rope. You have to keep an eye out for unlikely ropes, strategically placed around the battlefield. Seeing all the alternate routes and knowing they all lead to the same place just a short distance later destroys any replay value this gimmick may have had.
But really, what’s the point? Splitting abilities between three soldiers leaves each one hamstringed for no reason I can figure out.
Each of the three soldiers can carry just two guns and a grenade, so why can’t one guy do everything? It’s not like they’re deciphering enemy codes or flying airplanes. In fact, the game features tanks that all three can operate. So they all received tank training but only one knows how to climb a rope, and he’s not even skilled enough to bring his own? Moreover, if the rope is already there, tethered and all, why can’t the other guys climb it? Are they allergic to rope?
I wouldn’t be surprised if this game began with the idea of one playable soldier across the single-player campaign. It seems someone had a “cunning plan”, hoping to add phantom replay ability and the illusion of complexity by dividing up that one soldier’s abilities into -- and I quote--“Three unique POVs”.
Now, this wouldn’t be such a problem if battles were intense and required lots of strategy, but sadly, the enemy AI is about as dense as the game design. Sure, enemies duck for cover and fire while hiding behind objects. But they always come out and not always for you. Often, it seems they come into view just so you can get a better shot at them. Why else would a hateful Nazi come from behind his safe cover with his gun lowered and just stand there?!
[image3]Also, the game’s bark is much worse than its bite. The sounds of war are all around you - too bad the war isn’t. Sure, firefights can be frenzied and tense at times, and sprinting causes the screen to jerk and sway providing the frenetic experience the game lacks. But enemies are few, and after they’re dispatched, you’ll spend a good deal of time just trying to figure out which way to go.
However, this is an exercise in the inevitable, because Hour of Victory is a brutally linear affair.
Online play yields little redemption. The multiplayer was nearly impossible to test as I found no other players to get a game going. To its credit, you can play Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and Devastation, where each team must destroy a series of bombs before the other. Sounds interesting, but apparently not that much, since no one is playing it.
Hour of Victory is seven hours of virtual failure. The end result is empty, hollow, and more like a free demo download than a solid retail seller. Appearing as a no-cost or even a five-dollar download would’ve saved Midway much money and much scathing from game editors. Dismissed!