War is hell, and itâ€™s a big task to review a game based on the stupidest and bravest moments of Manâ€™s endeavours on this planet. So with a heavy breath, I insert the UMD into the PSP and set forth to conquer or be conquered on my Call of Duty: Roads to Victory!
Now I confess, I have never played a lot of the Call of Duty series, but I have saved my fair share of Europe in other versions of the same war. But having never played a first-person shooter on a PSP, I was expecting everything and nothing.
Call of Duty: Roads to Victory follows three groups of allies â€“ the 82nd Airborne, the Canadian 1st Army, and the Elite British Parachute Regiment â€“ over 14 levels. Unlike other titles in the series, Call of Duty: Roads to Victory is a straight forward shoot-the-Nazis, follow-the-path, finish-the-level game with minimal story involved and is only progressed by the little bit of written instruction at the start of each level. While this may disappoint Call of Duty fans if the game was on a console, with a portable version it works thanks to the pick-up-and-play nature of the PSP. But like all wars, the thrill of your first kill wears off and trench-foot will set in, and Call of Duty can become repetitive if played for too long.
The control system is always a tricky beast to hunt on console FPS, but on the PSP the control scheme â€“ the analogue stick is used to move back and forward and the buttons are used to look up, down, left and right â€“ does work. Although not the greatest, it does give you the option of changing them. However, the default setting is your best bet when playing. To help aid in the rigid controls, they have added an auto lock-on feature that helps you target whatever you seem to be looking at. But on the downside, the many and varied weapons that are all standard for Nazi killing have a very short lock-on distance and it can get a little frantic in most fire fights. Mind you, this could have been intentional in order to get you right in your enemyâ€™s face and get a sense of really killing that Nazi-bastard.
The gameâ€™s design does look great for the PSP with some nice lighting effects and general war like atmosphere. Though it seems they did the old â€śgrab a PS2 version remove the cinematics and story line and repackage it for PSPâ€ť. The 14 levels are standard-issue WW2: bombed-out towns, Nazi bunkers, and the European countryside. The missions are all par for the course, so along your way you'll retake bunkers, destroy artillery posts, find Nazi plans, take down the hordes with large machine guns, and use those handy rocket launchers to take out many a panzer. A stand-out level though is set inside a bomber and has you running from turret to turret shooting down Germans, which is a nice change of pace to the normal run-and-gun business.
The sound in these games is generally pretty good and is a big part of setting the mood and Road to Victory is no different. They seem to have used the music and sound from the other versions of the games, so the standard is quite high. The only downside is when a couple of nice orchestral pieces or booming sound effects sound a little tinny because the PSPâ€™s tiny speakers are overwhelmed. The voice acting is fine and they all yell the usual lines for these games, but it does seem a little flat at times.
The multiplayer side of the game gives 2-6 players the standard deathmatch, capture the flag, and king of the hill modes, so while the multiplayer mode is not original, it does the trick. The PSP was built for multiplayer games and the one thing missing from this one that may have saved it is the game share option â€“ because unless your friends are Call of Duty fans and have a copy of the same game, you'll only be playing the single-player missions. Hence, its lifespan after completion is a little short, and game sharing could have at least made it worth playing a little while longer.
When it all comes down to it, Call of Duty: Roads to Victory does a good job of capturing what makes the WW2 games great. However, it feels hollow, and with little story to invest in, it sometimes feels pointless. The game is shorter and with less intensity that these games are known for. If you are a casual gamer and only looking for something to play while on the bus to work or in your spare time, then maybe you should give this a shot. For all you WW2 fans out there, there is not a lot to keep you interested. So in conclusion, Call of Duty: Roads to Victory is not a bad game; itâ€™s just not going to be a stand-out game in the series.