Call of Duty: Finest Hour PlayStation 2
Developed by Spark Unlimited
Release Date: Out Now
Imagine taking one of the most action filled World War II FPS games on the PC and doing a version of it on the PlayStation 2, a console which has showed it's age a little in recent times. You'd be forgiven for thinking the whole thing would be a fiasco with a poor frame rate and key elements of the game dumbed down to suit the components of Sony's console. This is exactly the kind of experience that I was expecting when the review code dropped on the Deaf Gamers' welcome mat. Surprisingly though this isn't the case at all and Spark Unlimited have given PlayStation 2 gamers a real taste of that magical Call of Duty experience.
Call of Duty: Finest Hour is a whole new story. It all begins in familiar territory as we are back in World War II on the Eastern Front, in Stalingrad, playing as the Russians who are trying to remove the presence of the German soldiers. As with the PC version of Call of Duty you won't play as the same character all through the game. Initially, as just mentioned you'll begin as a Russian soldier but you'll also play as a British soldier and a US soldier throughout the course of the game. The Russian missions, where you play as a conscript, are quite easy but when you progress to the British ones (which are set in North Africa) there is a noticeable increase in the difficulty and the US missions (which see you back in Europe) are even more difficult. Anyone who has completed the PC Call of Duty will have no trouble with the difficulty level in the game though and the control system is a comfortable one that works well which of course makes things easier. The missions are linear affairs but the same thing could be said about the original Call of Duty and it doesn't really make the game any less exciting, although it does mean there is limited replay value.
Not content with simply providing single player action, Spark have also added online game play. Online play supports 16 players online and offers four game modes. Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag and Search and Destroy are the modes you can play. Online play does support voice communications which could prove awkward for deaf gamers, especially if you're not playing exclusively with other deaf gamers. I did experience a small amount of lag but nothing too serious.
Obviously Finest Hour isn't going to look as good as Call of Duty on the PC but it does a good job nevertheless. Most of the environments look good although there are a few bland areas of the game. Slowdown can be seen when the action gets very hectic or huge explosions occur etc., but for the most part it's a smooth experience. Character models and animations also look good and certainly compare well with anything we've seen on the PlayStation 2 to date.
Finest Hour does have subtitles (subtitles are on by default) but unfortunately not everything is subtitled. The games cutscenes are not subtitled, which is disappointing, but on the whole the game isn't too bad at all for deaf gamers. Important conversations and orders are given in text as well as speech. The name of the person speaking to you is also given (in a different coloured text) to make it clear who is talking to you. Call of Duty often puts you with other soldiers and their names appear in text next to them. The colour of this text indicates the status of their health. Your objectives are given in text and can be recalled by pressing the start button. You're notified in text when a checkpoint has been reached. A hand icon indicates when an item can be picked up which is always useful. An icon will tell you if you are aiming at a soldier who's on your side, so you shouldn't shoot any of your own men by accident. Finally you have indicators to show which direction you are being fired at from and you also have the compass which shows you the general direction you should be heading.
Out of the recent FPS games we've seen on the PlayStation 2 such as GoldenEye: Rogue Agent and Killzone, Call of Duty: Finest Hour is the most enjoyable we've played. The single player game is guilty of being rather short (around 10 hours play at the most) but it's been engrossing stuff and it's a real shame that it does have little replay value. The online side of the game seems to work well but it's not up to the standard of the single player game. We started off the review by saying most would have imagined a Call of Duty game to have been a complete mess on the PlayStation 2 but Finest Hour is far from it and in places it's managed to capture the cinematic quality that the PC's Call of Duty has. Finest Hour doesn't have as many memorable moments as the PC game but there enough special moments here to satisfy most people and it's great to see that the Tank combat has again been included. If you're looking for a quality FPS experience on your PlayStation 2 this Christmas it has to be Call of Duty: Finest Hour.
Game Rating: 8.0/10
Call of Duty comes to the PlayStation 2 and it can be considered a success. Whilst the game never reaches the excellence of the PC Call of Duty it's still a very enjoyable game with a solid online mode. Without a doubt it's the best FPS game on the PlayStation 2 that's arrived in time for Christmas.
Cutscenes and some peripheral speech are not subtitled but it's still enjoyable for deaf gamers.