|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Amaze Entertainment||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 13, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-6||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Cole Smith
There are simply not enough good shooters on the PSP, and with the release of Call to Duty: Roads to Victory, there are still not enough good shooters on the PSP. What makes Call of Duty: Roads to Victory so dismal is that it's just a mere shadow of the console version of Call of Duty 3. It's as if the developers believe that rabid PSP owners are in such a tizzy for first-person shooter games that they will be willing to overlook a few shortcomings. Unfortunately, those few shortcomings are serious enough to ruin any potential this game had to be fun. Allow me to explain.
First of all, even if this game were great, it's too short. You would not be getting your money's worth. An average gamer will be able to get through all 14 levels in less than a day. There are some standard multiplayer modes that are of the deathmatch, capture the flag, and king of the hill variety. Up to six players can participate, but there are no online modes. You can only access these games via the ad hoc wireless system. And you can't share games. Good luck finding five other gamers with a copy of this turkey shoot.
WWII games are the new millenium's equivalent of those old spaghetti westerns from the 50s. There are just so damn many of them, and there doesn't seem to be any end in sight. This is the war that wouldn't die. But with so much competition, you would expect a series with such a good pedigree as this one to be among one of the finest offered. Sure, the console versions are great, but this PSP version seems like it was thrown together from leftover segments of the console series. The story fails to generate any excitement. A black and white newsreel is shown before each mission to set the tone. The only tone that it sets is that I'm in some old movie theater in the 40s waiting for Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein. There isn't enough personality injected into the storyline to make me feel as though I'm actually taking part in the war.
Only when you complete one of the linear levels will the game save your progress. Not so great for a portable system such as the PSP. Not only can't you save anywhere in the middle of a level, but occasionally the game will crash and you'll be forced to start the level over. Great way to extend the replay value, boys. Another bone of contention is the artificial un-intelligence. The enemy will often let you get so close to them that you could kill them with their own weapons. Even when you can't get in close range, they will often just stand around and let you pick them off as though they were the zombies from Night of the Living Dead. But they have respawning on their side and as soon as you chop one down, another clone will appear to take his place.
Aiming is a mixed bag. For the most part, the lock-on system works well. It's forgiving, but I'm not. There are times when it gets stuck between being too close to fire a weapon and using hand-to-hand combat. In these moments, you're never to sure if you're going to fire on some Nazi at point blank range or butt him in the head with your rifle. Sometimes the controls fail to acknowledge a command and will leave you exposed to a hit. Not that this will be anything new to you because dying is a way of life in this game. The A.I. will be taking pot shots at you from offscreen, and they can be deadly accurate. In these instances, there's nothing you can do about it if you don't see it coming. Firing back is literally like taking a shot in the dark.
Roads to Victory is not all doom and gloom. There are some shining moments to be sure. There are a decent amount of missions, many of which are varied. But they soon become redundant from sheer repetitiveness. It seems as though the moment you start enjoying a particular level, the game senses that you enjoy it and attempts to please you by presenting the same scenario over and over. You'll even see many of the same backgrounds of the burned out ruins reused over and over. At times, I'm reminded of being on a treadmill in a Hanna-Barbera cartoon.
There are a number of different ways to configure the control system, but none of them are perfect. Regardless of which one you choose, you're still going to end up with some buttons that perform double duty, and in some instances, not issue a command at all. On the standard format, the stick controls your movement while the D-pad allows you to change weapons, throw grenades, or crouch down. The precision of the D-pad ensures you won't press the wrong command unintentionally, as you will be likely to if you map these commands to the stick or face buttons.
Aside from killing all of the Nazi clones in sight, the missions include recon, recovery, escort, capturing strongholds, planting bombs, blasting tanks with your rocket launcher, parachuting, and manning turrets while on a bombing mission. As I mentioned, these missions are nicely varied, but they quickly degenerate into a make-work situations that are all too predictable and formulaic. The only real excitement that the game generates is when your life is in immediate danger. And that's only because you'll be threatened with the prospect of having to spend more time playing it.
CCC Senior Writer