Genre: WWII First Person Shooter
Release Date: Summer 2007
I am rapidly beginning to develop the opinion that someone in Germany managed to torque off the entire video game industry at once, and now, if we were to carefully study the faces of Nazis in first-person shooters, we would be able to figure out who it is. By now, we have all shot this man approximately 36,000 times, and apparently, he has not yet received enough payback.
After several years’ worth of exhaustively historically accurate WWII first-person shooters, Hour of Victory is something different. NFusion, the developers, compare it to Indiana Jones, as opposed to Saving Private Ryan; it’s a high-octane action movie, with physics and gameplay to match.
Hour of Victory is set in the African and European theaters of the war, leading up to a march on Berlin. You play the game as one of three elite operatives who have been tasked with changing the course of the war, and who no doubt both chew nails and spit staples.
As you play through each mission, you can switch between the three characters at certain checkpoints, thus changing how you can play through the game. Major Ambrose Taggert is an infiltration expert, equipped with a silenced Sten gun and combat knife. He can pick locks and cut barbed wire, sneaking through buildings and around entrenched opposition. Conversely, Lieutenant William Ross of the SAS is more suited towards frontal assault, with more stamina and physical strength than the other characters. Finally, Sgt. Calvin Blackbull of the U.S. Army Rangers is faster and more agile than the others, allowing him to make jumps and climb over obstacles that’d stop the other two characters. Blackbull is also a trained sniper, allowing him to pick off enemies from a safe distance.
Each of the three characters will thus allow you to take very different approaches through each of the game’s levels. For example, in Las Vegas recently at Midway Gamers’ Day, a city level of the North African campaign was playable, with Taggert and Ross as selectable characters. Ross was equipped with frag grenades and a BAR, allowing him to run in and kick the hell out of people in a toe-to-toe deathmatch, much like a typical WWII FPS.
Playing as Taggert, on the other hand, made it a slower and stealthier game. Taggert doesn’t have Ross’s firepower, so playing as him, I had to break into the buildings along the sides of the road and slip around to the back of the enemies’ positions. When I encountered a machine-gun nest, Taggert could clip some barbed wire, pick a few locks, and sneak around behind the fortifications to slit throats. Ross, however, had to grit his teeth, snarl something memorable, and just charge the nest with guns blazing.
As either character, you can take a lot of damage, which will slowly regenerate after you hunt cover. As with movie logic, it seems that any time you’re hurt in Hour of Victory, you’ll be able to walk it off in a few seconds. That, plus its high-energy shootouts and its allowing you to carry a hilariously large number of weapons and grenades (a feature that admittedly may not be present in the final version), makes it a very different kind of game from the overly scripted likes of a Call of Duty.
Hour of Victory is an Xbox 360 exclusive, and while it’ll have options for online multiplayer, those options have yet to be finalized. Deathmatch is, naturally, a lock, but other modes are still being discussed. (I asked for online co-op, but who knows if that’ll happen.) If nothing else, it should be coming out right when Call of Duty 3 is beginning to lose its luster, ensuring that unless you want it to, World War II need never end.
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