Infinity Ward's highly popular Call of Duty series began solely on the PC as a hardcore shooter with unusually intense military action, but it's since begun to migrate to consoles. The upcoming Call of Duty 3 is currently slated to ship only on consoles, for instance, and soon the PSP will see the first portable iteration of the series with Call of Duty: Roads to Victory, due to hit the Sony handheld early next year. We recently got to briefly check out an unfinished version of Roads to Victory, which will feature an entirely new campaign, multiplayer features, and an increased focus on arcade-style action that--if it works as well as Seattle-based developer Amaze is hoping--ought to set a good precedent for other PSP first-person shooters to follow.
It's no secret that most FPS games on the PSP so far have conjured images of square pegs and round holes, and Amaze has acknowledged that fact. The game will of course offer a variety of control schemes so you can figure out which one works the best--or at least doesn't-work the least--for you, but the developers have accounted for the imprecision inherent in playing FPS games on the PSP by simply requiring you to be less accurate. Instead of making you aim precisely to score a hit on an enemy, the game will give you a generous degree of auto-aim, so you only have to be close, rather than spot on. The level designers have compensated for this aid by ramping up the intensity of the enemy encounters, so while you'll have an easier time gunning down Nazi soldiers, you can expect a lot more of them.
Roads to Victory will let you play as soldiers of three nationalities, as per the series' established formula. According to Activision, you'll take control of "an 82nd Airborne Division infantry soldier, a Canadian First Army rifleman, and an elite British Parachuting Regiment commando," and you'll play through a separate set of missions for each one, out of a total of 13. The game's prerelease documentation goes on to refer to action peppered with "mounted machine gun battles, sniper encounters, and aircraft attacks," so you can expect all the same sorts of encounters you've seen in past COD games.
An ad hoc multiplayer mode will also be available for six players, featuring the same kind of modes you'd expect out of a game like this, such as deathmatch, capture the flag, and king of the hill. On the graphics side, Amaze seems to have faithfully ported the look of Call of Duty (the look of World War II, in other words) to the PSP, from the little we got to see of the game in action, though the level of detail has taken a bit of a hit from the current-gen console versions of the game.
It seems like most of the popular console shooter franchises are slowly making their way to the PSP--in fact, we just posted our review of Medal of Honor Heroes, the other big WWII series to hit the PSP. Will Roads to Victory equal or even top it? We'll find out next year, and we'll bring you more on the game as we have it.