Handheld first-person shooters usually do not get my attention or respect. Perhaps this is an unfair bias on my part that is used to playing such games in the wide-open expanse of a television screen, but it is something I’m fairly settled upon. That’s why I’ve been surprised as hell at the fun I’ve had playing Activision’s Call of Duty: Roads to Victory for the Playstation Portable (PSP). Even more surprising, though, is the fact this is an enjoyable game, despite one seriously hefty flaw.
The biggest problem the game has, by far, is the controls.
Even though you’re given the choice of four preset configurations, only the first one (where the analog stick moves you and the four face buttons are there to aim you in the right direction) comes anywhere close to getting the job done. While you can get accustomed to it enough so that you’re able to ultimately get through and enjoy the game, the set up just doesn’t come anywhere near the “quick-response” timing that first-person shooters need in order to keep up with the action.
Hell, if you’d have simply been able to use the analog stick for aiming at all, perhaps that might have made a gigantic difference. As it is, you’re left with sluggish movement thanks to sluggish controls. This might have been okay if the speed of the game took that into consideration, but of course it doesn’t. Instead, enemies run around without a care in the world that they’re twice as fast as you’ll ever be. Fun stuff when you’re trying to dash about in a combat zone — not.
Having said all that, the game does feature something that helps to take the sting off of that particular frustration by including an auto targeting adjustment on the control scheme. With a simple change, it suddenly becomes nearly impossible for any of your shots to miss. Seriously, there were moments when the auto-target had locked onto something way to the right of the screen, and even though my gun (and character) were decidedly pointed to the left, the bullets apparently slipped loose the boundaries of physics and found their way to the target.
Add to that the fact that you can zoom in and help the auto-fire instantly target onto an enemy, and you arrive at a point where you don’t notice the fact that you are pissed off at the control scheme.
Auto targeting. It had me at “hello."
Now, after reading that, you might think that this is all headed in the direction of becoming a negative review. For the first 20 minutes of the game it certainly wasn’t a far fetched idea to me. After those 20 minutes had gone by, though, I found myself drawn into the gameplay itself and never really looked back (or up) until I had run completely through the “American” chapters of the game.
There are also Canadian and British chapters, as well.
There was just enough packed into the game to resemble what I love about WWII shooters, that it just drew me in — rushing about in combat situations, slithering around on your belly as you try and get the perfect sniper shot, dodging bullets from all directions as you try and lay that explosive charge on the side of the enemy tank or manning the various machine guns on a bomber — it was great fun. Add to that the fact that the graphics are damned nice and the sound is simply amazing for a handheld system, and we can both arrive at a place where I’m comfortable with saying that this is a good game and worthy of purchase.
Something else to keep in mind, although it didn’t benefit me as this is a one-and-one-only PSP household, is that “Call of Duty: Roads to Victory” comes with a few multiplayer options for up to 2-6 p layers, including Death-match, Capture the Flag and King of the Hill modes.
Were it not for the wonky controls I’d be giving this four out of five stars, instead of the three stars that I am giving it.
Call of Duty: Roads to Victory is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Blood, Language, and Violence.