November 17, 2007
“Not another World War 2 based first person shooter!” the gamerholics cried out when the gaming company Midway announced their newest title, Hour of Victory for the Xbox 360. With so many World War titles being released in recent times, for example the Call of Duty and Medal of Honour series’, the gaming public were gradually becoming bored of killing countless amounts of Germans; so has Midway done enough to convince the dedicated gamers to dip into their pockets for Hour of Victory? Carry on reading to find out…
As previously mentioned, the game is set in the World War 2 genre; nothing new there then! So what new ideas does this title bring to the gaming world? Not a lot if being truthful. The main selling point of Hour of Victory is that the game allows you to play through the single player campaign through three different viewpoints; an aggressive machine gunner who takes no nonsense, a sniper, and a stealth specialist. The three different soldiers allow you to adopt different tactics to take out the opposition and complete your missions throughout the game, and this adds a large amount of playability to the game. Firstly we get introduced to Ross, the hardened soldier who will take no crap from the Germans; his specialities include being able to take more damage than the other characters in the game, and therefore is a good option to have during large gunfight levels, and a perfect choice for the gamers who like to adopt the “run and gun” tactics. Ross is also able to remove certain obstacles throughout the campaign which the other characters do not have access to; pushing these obstacles out of the way with Ross allows you to take alternative paths throughout the levels, and on occasions, short cuts to your main objectives.
The sniping geniuses out there will grow fond of the character Bull; Bull’s main strength is with the sniper rifle, and he is the only character throughout the campaign that is capable of using it. To allow the full use of the sniper, high positions are best so that you can pick off enemies below right? Correct! And this is where another of Bull’s specialities comes into play; ropes in specific positions are located throughout every level of the campaign which only Bull may climb; this allows you to take short cuts throughout the level and also have an advantageous point to use the sniper rifle from. Pretty cool eh? Yeah I thought so too. Last but not least, we have Taggert who is a stealth specialist. With so many stealth games on the market these days such as Splinter Cell, Taggert may become a popular player with the gamers who pick up a copy of Hour of Victory. Ross has the power to sustain damage in battles, Bull has the sniper rifle, so what does Taggert have? The ability to kill enemies via throwing knifes, or alternatively sneaking up behind his enemies and giving them a quick stab in the back. However, Taggert is only able to throw 5 knifes per level so the ammo is limited; a plus point to this is that the knifes can be picked up to use again. The throwing knife technique requires good accuracy and can be frustrating at first, and this may put a few gamers off playing as Taggert. Locked doors are located throughout the levels of the campaign which only Taggert is able to unlock; simply go up to the door and hold the X button to see an animation of the character pick locking the door and entering into the new area. These secret areas allow you to progress through the levels quicker and without taking damage, and therefore this can be an effective way to complete the campaign.
The one other control-related idea worthy of noting is the ability to sprint. This is easily done by holding down the left bumper button on the controller, or alternatively clicking and holding down the left analogue stick. This allows you to escape situations if you are low on health, or simply achieve objectives and finish levels at a quicker pace. A blue bar appears in the bottom left of the screen when this feature is used, which represents your players stamina levels. When the sprint technique is used, the bar gradually turns to red meaning your player is tiring and you will soon have to stop. Approximately 8 seconds of sprinting time can be used before your character comes to a halt, resulting in the stamina bar gradually increasing again. This is a nice feature that adds to the playability of the game and offers something different from the other first person shooters currently available.
Is the game challenging I hear you ask? Before you begin each section of the game, there are 4 difficulty settings available for you to choose; Easy, Normal, Hard and Veteran. However, completing the game on Veteran difficulty is very achievable; five shots can be taken before your player hits the deck, whereas in other games of this genre, it takes only one or two shots before death is upon you. In contrast to veteran mode, easy mode is not so easy on certain missions. You often find yourself surrounded by enemies, which is not an easy situation to get out of even on easy difficulty. I found myself dying on numerous occasions whilst playing through the campaign on easy difficulty and this makes me believe that although there are four different difficulty levels, the difficulty does not differ enough between them. There are two main levels throughout the campaign which most gamers will struggle with, and these are called “Maelstrom” and “Critical Mass”. Be prepared to give these missions a couple of tries before being successful…
The graphics are neither abysmal nor do they bring anything new to the Xbox 360. A similar style of graphics can be found in the game Call of Duty 2, also in many other titles in the first person shooter genre. Improved graphics can now be found in games also in this genre such as Call of Duty 3, and this may put gamers of playing a toned down game. The game uses the Unreal Engine 3.0, the same games engine that the unprecedented Gears of War uses and therefore better graphics should be expected of this game.
The Hour of Victory achievements consist of both single player and multiplayer achievements, and this seems to suit most modern gamers. The single player achievements are rewarded for completing the level with each of the three characters, resulting in you having to play through the campaign on three separate occasions if you require all the achievements this title has to offer. The multiplayer achievements are also simple, and include all three modes which this game has to offer. These are Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag and Devastation. Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag explain themselves; the unique mode Devastation is where players race to find a bomb located in the level and deliver it to their opponent’s machine in order to blow it to smithereens. There are only 6 maps to play during your multiplayer career with Hour of Victory, and this seems like a small amount in comparison to other games of the genre, such as Call of Duty 4, which has approximately 15 maps to keep you occupied throughout your multiplayer experience.
The audio in Hour of Victory is pretty impressive, but at the same time certainly not groundbreaking. Each of the characters have unique voices which match their character well, and there are nice orchestral pieces throughout the campaign as you move through levels and come under heavy attack from the enemies; both of these features help to make you feel more involved in the single player experience, and you’ll feel like you want to indulge more into the game.
I was certainly hoping for more on the visual side of thing’s with Hour of Victory, especially when considering the games uses the Unreal Engine; the same as Epic’s Gears of War. For a next generation console, you’d want more than Midway have offered us. The games graphics would be pushing original Xbox pretty hard, but when it comes to the Xbox 360, it’s only lifting a measly 5KG of weight instead of it’s max of 30KG.
Being able to play through most missions of the campaign mode with three different characters helps to add playability to the game. The experience will be different with each character as you take different routes through the levels and use different tactics in order to get the upper hand on the enemy. However, the lacklustre multiplayer with only 6 maps will not help to keep you hooked on the game for a lengthy period of time.
The game is delivered to the user in a respectable manner, with easy to navigate menus. One of these menus is the option to view your achievements; simply click this link and up pops the achievements you’ve received and still need to earn in the game. This is a nice little feature, and helps to save time navigating your gamercard and the Xbox Dashboard.
There is a nice mixture of both single player and multiplayer achievements, around 75% and 25% respectively. However, unless you thoroughly enjoy the game the first time you complete it, you may not have the motivation to play through the campaign another two times with the different characters in order to gain the achievements. The mediocre multiplayer may also make it a chore for some to achieve the online achievements. For those thinking of boosting for online achievements, it is easier said than done in this game; you’ll need 6 people including yourself to enter a ranked match, whilst hoping some random person doesn’t join whilst your setting the match up and getting everybody together.
Hour of Victory provides little unique features to the first person shooter genre and presents these with poor graphics by today’s next generation standards. The three different characters and online play help to add playability to the game, but not for long enough. I would only recommend fans of the World War 2 genre to purchase this game; even the keen first person shooter fans may be put off due to the poor graphics and poor AI seen throughout the campaign levels.