Last year Infinity Ward made a spectacular debut with their first title Call of Duty. Call of Duty for the PC completely redefined World War II games and raised the bar for those trying to do a war game in 2004. With success already on the PC, a console version was in development and obviously things had to change. Like Medal of Honor, the console versions needed a rebuild from almost the start. Spark took hold of the project to completion and while the game is fairly decent, it is a shame they didn't have the spark to polish it as much as the PC version. Unfortunately, like Medal of Honor: Rising Sun, this just does not live up to the PC game.
Call of Duty Finest Hour contains five storylines, which is actually two more than the PC. In only one instance do these two story lines overlap. Throughout the game you play as a Russian conscript, Russian Sniper, Russian Tank, British Special Forces troop and regular US soldier. The game is of course set in World War II and while there aren't many famous battles to fight such as D-Day (which really has been done and dusted many times) there is a lot of intense action but the storyline does have one problem, which is discussed further in the review.
Call of Duty Finest Hour like it's PC counterpart is played from a first person perspective. Most of the time you either have to just reach an area, blow up some enemy equipment or rescue a soldier. Fairly run of the mill if you have played the PC version. There are a few things which differ from the PC version however. While some of the missions may seem familiar, they have changed quite a bit and also the characters you play as are different. The only mission we truly recognised to be the same as the PC game is the first mission, which is the Stalingrad mission, PC players will know that leads to quite an intense start to the game.
Another change is that occasionally you can give commands to other troops to open doors for you while you take cover. Unfortunately this only seems to occur in the very early stages of the game which is quite a shame as it improves the game somewhat and gives it a very Rainbow Six 3 feel. Also with the added characters, there seems to be much more character development in this game. As you progress through you take control of new characters who all have a story, played out in cut scenes however one other nice touch is that occasionally you will run into previously playable characters again. While this may seem like a better scenario than the PC game, the structure has led to a few problems.
Having five storylines is great but there is a few problems associated with this. First of all the character development is not as fleshed out as it should be. There is more here than the PC version but the fact that most of the time you only play characters for one or two missions before moving on, restricts the development which can happen. Another problem associated with this is the length of some of the campaigns. The British one in particular is extremely short and you're just getting into the storyline when all of a sudden the US soldier campaign begins. Admittedly the British missions are difficult, leading to lengthier play time but we would have liked to seen more considering these guys are the special forces and have much different equipment to play around with. The game is also fairly short and can be finished in a day easily.
Call of Duty Finest Hour may not be the most difficult game but really the challenge comes from the sheer number of enemies rather than any brains they may have. One issue that you will run into is a lack of ammunition. You will be picking up enemy weapons in an ongoing fashion and while this allows you to try out a variety of weapons, it does add to the challenge. The level design sometimes 'conveniently' blocks your way giving the levels a very linear feel and there is no doubt that this was done to make the player complete a level certain ways, it's when you discover another way which is blocked and makes a task easier that it becomes frustrating and completely inexcusable.
There are some great missions in the game but to go with the great there are some boring repetitive ones as well. Some levels you will be driving vehicles which is pretty cool, and others you will be hiding behind tanks taking cover in enemy areas or charging up a hill taking on wave after wave of soldiers. However it is here that another disappointment rears its ugly head and that is the graphics. They are not that bad but considering the technology of the Xbox many would have expected more.
One area where the Xbox version really shows its true colours is the online component. Xbox Live is fully featured in the game with all the game modes returning from PC available. Multiplayer is also available via system link. The game does not support Xbox Live 3.0 however and no clans or teams can be made for the game.
Call of Duty: Finest Hour is not a bad game but it unfortunately pales in comparison to the PC version. Those who only have the consoles will find a fairly decent game but considering the PC version now has an expansion pack and is probably cheaper to buy, then it's hard to recommend this game over Call of Duty PC to those who have the PC to play it.