It only took me one more level to realize how painful this journey is going to be. The Call of Duty games on the sixth generation consoles were never highly praised in their day. They were made by a company called Spark Unlimited, and while Activision gave them a decent sized budget, the constraints of the sixth gen consoles are blatantly obvious. In 2004, when Finest Hour was launched, console FPSs were still lacking any sort of real identity. Halo: Combat Evolved led the pack but most shooters did not follow suite in terms of controls, shooting mechanics, and overall feel. Finest Hour may have implemented iron sites, but the rest of the controls were mapped all over the place and it is difficult to go from the flawless controls in Halo to Finest hour.
Not only are the controls flawed, they aren't extremely responsive. There seems to be a major disconnected feeling between moving the analog sticks and actually moving your character, the characters don't feel well grounded in the environment and seem to float along, and the shooting mechanics also leave a lot to be desired. Shooting the weapons doesn't feel like it has any impact on the environment or in your hand.
I don't want to say these flaws make the game terrible. In 2004, there wasn't many FPSs on the console to compare Finest Hour with, so the bulk of the low scoring can be attributed with the game design itself. Also, it's not fair that I'm comparing modern shooter controls with something from 2004. However, while I'm only two levels in, the level design is rather lackluster. AI opponents seem to spawn out of nowhere and lack basic common sense, friendly AI just drops dead for no reason, and the visuals are extremely muddy. I understand this game had to run on the PS2 and that they were trying to get many AI characters on the screen at once, but a brown on brown color pallet does not help anything, especially when the lighting is about as sophisticated as DOOM. Though, I do have to give them credit for keeping a relatively smooth FPS with all of the AI models on screen.
|Above: Spark Unlimited's idea of art direction.|
I don't want to rag on the level design to much only being two levels into the game. I will say that all of these elements combined, my initial impressions of this game aren't to good. I'm going to have to force myself to get through this.