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Hour of Victory

Not those pesky Nazis again! Our favourite fascist friends are up to no good again and it’s your job to stop them!

Sound familiar? World War II has a reputation for being an overused source of material for games these days and Midway is doing little to dispel that with Hour of Victory. It’s fine when the games like Brothers in Arms take the genre in new directions and give it a fresh outlook, but this a poorly conceived and implemented mess.

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“This a poorly conceived and implemented mess”Hour of Victory‘s big sell is the ability to choose from three characters at the start of each mission, which then affects how you play it. Our plucky trio is made up of tough SAS commando Ross, OSS stealth expert Taggart and Ranger sniper Bull, each with their own initial weapon inventory and skills. Levels have certain sections which can only be accessed by a specific character, but this only serves to slow you down as you hunt for the action that your soldier is associated with.

Apart from that mediocre addition, the gameplay is exactly the same as you’ve seen in other first-person shooters, only worse. There’s a fair amount of cover available, but it’s more a case of run and gun than anything. Games like Rainbow Six Vegas and Brothers in Arms force you to use caution and think about your situation because your enemies are smart and are quick to punish you. Hour of Victory, on the other hand, has a collection of hopeless idiots who will never earn your respect.

Once you’ve stepped over the invisible line that triggers the game’s script for a set-piece, a bunch of Nazis will appear, all running towards their predefined destinations. They have no regard for your actions, so you can gun them down as they come. Since they don’t react to your actions or even shoot until they get to their position, you can pick them off with ease. If you’re actually occupying the place where they’re programmed to go, they’ll keep on coming until they’re standing next to you, at which point they finally decide to open fire. They simply have no understanding of context.

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Once you pick up on the fact that you’re facing a cohort of morons, you’ll realise that often the best way to deal with them is to surprise them. Hour of Victory‘s controls include a sprint button as well as a mêlée attack which kills with a single blow, so you can clear entire levels by running up to and clubbing your enemies to death. It’s a shame that there isn’t an achievement for doing so.

It’s hard to believe that the Nazis conquered so many countries with an army this foolish. There are a few stealth levels, where you’ll quickly find that they’re also the least suspicious soldiers in the world. You can practically gun down a colleague in front of them and they won’t even notice. .

The story goes that the Nazis are working on an atomic bomb, but what the Allies should really be worried about is their apparent ability to teleport. Soldiers in Hour of Victory magically appear in rooms with no exits, begging the question of where they came from. This is one of several recurring bugs found throughout the game, with other highlights such as tanks which vanish in front of your eyes. Thinking about it though, maybe they’re teleporting somewhere else.

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“With this lack of intelligence, it’s impossible to respect your foes”Then again, you’ll temporarily forget this anomaly when you realise that your gun has been left empty for the fifteenth time that level. As elite as the trio are, they are particularly bad at realising when they’re out of ammo. Unlike other games where your character reloads almost instantly, in Hour of Victory they take forever and this can often be your undoing.

Even more frustrating than the reloading are the vehicle sections. There are a few times when you’ll be able to drive a tank through a gauntlet of tanks and soldiers with Panzerfausts, but these turn out to be incredibly infuriating. Your own tank is terrible cumbersome and makes navigating the levels a nightmare. While you’re fumbling around, you’ll be sprung upon by numerous enemies who won’t hesitate at making the most of your helplessness.

Of course, it doesn’t help that Hour of Victory looks like an Xbox game. The visuals are downright ugly and completely unoriginal, even for something that’s based on World War II. Every level is a case of déjà vu and only serves to remind you of all the far superior games out there. The audio isn’t much better either, serving only as a flimsy backdrop for the horrors that unfold before you.

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The game’s only possible saving grace is its online multiplayer, where the A.I. can’t wreck the experience, but even this is easily outclassed by numerous other games. Finding anyone else to play with is an achievement in itself, but given the state of Hour of Victory, you can’t really blame anyone for staying away.

There’s really no reason why you would ever want to play Hour of Victory. The gameplay is broken in countless ways and the A.I. is comical at best. It’s an ugly, unoriginal, inadequately tested and terribly implemented mess that has no place in anyone’s game collection.

2 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is the Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in November 2000. Get in touch on Twitter @PhilipMorton.

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