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Call of Duty: Roads to Victory
Score: 70%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Amaze Entertainment
Media: UMD/1
Players: 1 - 6 (Ad Hoc)
Genre: First Person Shooter/ Online

Graphics & Sound:
Despite oversaturation, I have always been a fan of WWII games, primarily because of my interest in the era. Though Medal of Honor was the first, the Call of Duty series, with the exception of Big Red One, has consistently delivered one of the better WWII shooter experiences. Call of Duty: Roads to Victory is the series' first foray onto the PSP and, although it does manage to showcase the intensity and cinematic feel of past games, it is hampered by the technical limitations of the console.

Roads to Victory suffers from the same problems the series hit on the Xbox and PS2; its scope is bigger than the system can reasonably handle. The game’s atmosphere is undeniably Call of Duty. The camera shakes and there are numerous explosions in every level. Even though it really tries to match the feel and look of the PC and next-gen versions, it ends up looking okay, but not great. Levels are extremely linear and suffer from various technical problems, from poor textures to slowdown to major clipping issues (enemies will repeatedly shoot through walls and other structures).

Audio suffers from the same issues as visuals – they are bigger than the technology allows. The sound effects, music… everything tries to break out but are stifled by the system’s speakers, making them sound tinny.

Call of Duty: Roads to Victory follows the same story layout and pacing as other games in the series. The game takes place over fourteen chapters broken into three sections, each following soldiers from three countries. In the first section, you play as a member of the 82nd Airborne Division stationed in Italy during Operation Avalanche. The second centers on a member of the Canadian First Army. Finally, you play as a commando in the British Parachute Regiment during the taking of the Arnheim Bridge.

Campaigns are introduced with a short black and white clip detailing the history behind the event, after which you are dumped into the mission. Unlike Call of Duty 3, Roads to Victory has a hard time building its narrative. The structure is there, though it isn’t as engaging. The characters lack personality and missions feel shallow. Mission goals are very straightforward, to the point that they are predictable. It is very hard to be surprised during missions since you’ll more or less know what is going to happen before it happens. You know that once you hit a corner, you’ll meet up with a small group of soldiers or a machine gunner. Levels have never been all that open in the series, though they feel more linear that usual in Roads to Victory.

Roads to Victory also features multiplayer for up to six players over Ad Hoc connection only. Infrastructure and Game Sharing are not supported. The offered game modes include Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and King of the Hill.

Enemy A.I. offers little challenge. There are times where you can walk within two feet of an enemy and he won’t realize you’re there, making for an easy kill. At times the A.I. downgrade feels like it is in response to the lack of accurate aiming, so when it is coupled with the auto-aim, it is very easy to kill enemies without trying too hard.

Most of the challenge faced in Call of Duty: Roads to Victory is technical. Again, enemies have the uncanny ability to shoot through walls. There is also a lack of mid-mission saves, which is a major problem for a portable game – especially considering the length of some missions.

Game Mechanics:
The most obvious limitation Call of Duty: Roads to Victory faces is the lack of a second analog stick. This oversight has proven to be an issue numerous times in the system’s lifespan and doesn’t look like it will be going away anytime soon. To counter this problem, the developers have used the same setup that has worked for other games. The Left analog stick is used to move while the face buttons aim. To compensate for the limited accuracy the face buttons offer, an auto-aim system has also been implemented. Rather than having to pin-point an enemy in the crosshair, you only need to get in range and point in the general direction – the red box does the rest.

The system is forgiving and, for the most part, works well; however it is far from perfect. Many of the weapons suffer from a short range, so you really have to get close to shoot. If your target doesn’t see you, this usually isn’t a problem since you can get close without much trouble; otherwise it can be hard to get close without taking damage. Moving targets also prove to be a problem.

All other actions, including grenades and crouching, are mapped to the D-pad. The option to “cook” grenades is also available.

Call of Duty: Roads to Victory is nearly everything that makes the series one of the best WWII shooters on the market. At the same time, the game is clearly too ambitious for the hardware. The developers have done the best they could, but sometimes that isn’t enough.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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