Hour of Victory Hands-On

We go hands-on with Hour of Victory in an attempt to clear the Alps of German soldiers and make the slopes safe for skiers once again.

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With Call of Duty moving from World War II to a more modern setting, the WWII-based first-person shooter genre is a little less crowded, but there are still plenty of games dedicated to reliving the events of the last world war. One such game is Hour of Victory, due out on June 18th. We got a first look at Midway's upcoming shooter in January, and we recently spent some hands-on time with a different level in a more complete build of the game.

In addition to being useful for killing soldiers, tanks are a great place to keep warm.
In addition to being useful for killing soldiers, tanks are a great place to keep warm.

Hour of Victory follows the exploits of a British soldier named Ross, as well as two American soldiers named Taggert and Blackbull. While the sole difference between soldiers in some WWII games is their accent, Hour of Victory's characters each have their own unique abilities. Ross, the commando, has the most health of the group and is a good choice if you like to "run and gun" your way through a level. Taggert is a covert-op-style character who is best suited for sneaking around, avoiding combat by picking locked doors and using the element of surprise when he is forced to kill. Calvin Blackbull, or "Bull," is a deadly sniper because he can steady his aim by holding his breath. He's also able to get to the best sniping locations thanks to his ability to climb. Though certain levels may be geared toward one soldier's abilities, you'll be able to play through most levels with any character, so you're rarely forced to play the game in one specific way. Many of the game's achievements will be based on beating certain levels with specific soldiers, so you'll want to be well rounded if you're hoping to get all 1,000 points.

The level we were able to spend some time with took place in the snowy Bavarian Alps. Our mission was to ride a cable car up the mountain, infiltrate a German fortress, and then liberate a scientist who has information crucial to the war effort. As the cable car slowly made its way up the mountain, we were able to pick off a couple of enemy soldiers standing guard high atop a transfer station. Almost as soon as we hopped out of the car, another car heading down the mountain arrived with a few more soldiers. Peeking out from cover, we were able to dispatch the new arrivals, board the car, and activate the lift to carry us up to the fort's entrance. But despite our best efforts to be inconspicuous, Nazi soldiers were awaiting our arrival.

Our first task upon reaching the base was to take out one of the squad commanders. These squad commanders are an important presence for the enemy because they can direct soldiers to use suppressing fire, advance on your position, or use other advanced tactics. If you can kill one of these commanders, you'll find that the other soldiers still put up a fight, but it's uncoordinated and more focused on self-preservation. Playing as Ross, we were able to clear the room by force and then push a cart out of the way to advance to the next area. If we had we been playing as Taggert, we could have picked a lock and snuck around the bad guys. And if we had been playing as Bull, we could have used his climbing ability to make our way up to the second floor to take an entirely different path. As we wound our way through the Nazi stronghold, we were able to take out numerous enemies with our machine gun, as well as some well-timed grenades and melee attacks. There were a few breaks in the action where we were able to recover some health (as in Call of Duty, there are no health meters), but for the bulk of the level, the action was fast-paced and rarely let up. We didn't get much of a chance to experiment with different weapons, but rest assured, there's a hefty arsenal of guns in the game. And yes—you will be able to drive tanks.

Just before desert, all hell broke loose.
Just before desert, all hell broke loose.

Hour of Victory is using a modified version of the Unreal 3 engine, so as you may expect, it's looking quite nice. The snowfall was blinding and went a long way toward making the situation feel even more hazardous than it already was in the Alps. There will be no shortage of explosions, and while not everything can be destroyed, there are a number of destructible items in every level. One of the game's most impressive aspects thus far is its soundtrack, which features intense orchestral music that really adds to the game's atmosphere.

Midway knows that there are a lot of WWII games out there and that many people feel the genre has run its course. The developer hopes that the added replayability that comes with having three unique characters, an intense, fast-paced campaign, and online multiplayer will be enough to entice people to take on the Axis yet again. One area of the game that the folks from Midway aren't ready to talk about yet is multiplayer, though they promise the game will have an online multiplayer component to it. We'll have all the details on this important aspect of the game as soon as they're announced.

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