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First-Person Shooter
Spark Unlimited
November 16, 2004

Call of Duty: Finest Hour

Yesterday we were given the opportunity to check out an early demo for Call of Duty: Finest Hour. Behind the controller was Thaine Lyman, Executive Producer on the title, along with Scott J. Langteau, CEO of developer Spark Unlimited, as his right-hand info-man. Thaine took us through one of the levels featured in the Russian campaign. On Christmas Eve, 1942, Russian troops made an attack on a german airfield that was preparing to send supplies to Stalingrad in order to replenish their infantry. These are the events that transpire throughout the level on display.



In this level, the Russian tanker finds himself inside a T-34 along with a couple others alongside him. When the command is given, the tanks roll out of their station and begin the assault on the airfield. From what we saw, there are three different ways to control the tank. The first view is from inside the tank, where you can see whateverís in your line-of-sight. One of the better advantages to this view, besides the targeting reticule is the ability to zoom in and out. Thereís also a third-person view, where you can check out your immediate surroundings. Finally, thereís an unbutton view wherein your character pops out of the tankís hatch in order to fire away with their equipped weapon. This can be useful for turning quickly in order to take down panzershrek troopers.

As the tank rolled along, objectives would pop up at the very top of the screen. At the beginning of this particular level, the goal is to destroy nine planes throughout the air strip. Although it wonít be easy since youíll be up against a lot of ground troops as well as enemy tanks. Whatís great about fighting enemy tanks is the ability to destroy them in a couple of different ways. If youíd rather not destroy them with tank shells, you can line-up the side in your sights and fire a shell at the tracks. This will immobilize them, but wonít necessarily stop them from firing at you.

Although while doing their research on this title, they were told that one should never get out of a tank, there has to be some exceptions in order to make the gameplay a bit more interesting. For that reason, vehicle levels arenít just about riding around in the vehicle. At a certain point, the tanker had to get out of the tank and continue on foot. Here, we saw a variety of different weapons such as the PPSh, which is a Russian engineered submachine gun. Also known as the Burp gun, the PPSh could be seen as a highly effective killing machine. However, we also got to see the DP in action, a Russian light machine gun with bi-pod firing. Other different abilities were shown as well such as crouching, going prone, melee attacks and lean-in firing.

We also learned some technical aspects regarding the development of the game. In order to capture real-time and realistic lip-synch, they sent the lines of dialogue to the Jim Henson Workshop, which completely turned around the quality. In fact, the level of quality went up extremely high in only one day of work. Aside from that, they finished recording the score, composed by Michael Giacchino of Medal of Honor fame, using an 80-piece orchestra on Monday and the 50-person choir on Tuesday. These numbers are significantly higher than anyone at Activision has worked with. From what we heard in the level on demo, itís going to be amazing to listen to.

word on the street

Teamwork. Call of Duty is what it is due to the sense of accomplishment within a team rather than as a lone man in other WWII first-person shooters. In fact, thatís part of the reason why the game won so many awards last year. In order to capture the feel of the game within the console universe, theyíve still implemented the feeling of teamwork. Not only that, but with completely new levels, weapons, characters, environments, sound, music, and anything else that involves the game, thereís sure to be something here for PC gamers along with console gamers to enjoy.

press release notes

  • Unique storyline, missions, and battlefield environments.
  • Intense cinematic battlefield conflicts that, until now, only big budget Hollywood blockbuster movies have been able to portray.
  • Unsung heroes fighting as part of a crack squad through the chaos of battle.
  • Playable perspectives from three different allied sides--American, British, and Russian.
  • Authentic weapons, vehicles, environments, combat missions, and the real sounds of war.


Although it was a very early build and it was running on a PS2 test unit, Call of Duty: Finest Hour is looking amazing. We honestly canít wait to get our hands on it and check it out for ourselves. You can expect the game to be released in the fourth quarter of 2004. Stay tuned for further coverage of this title as the development continues.

Staff Avatar Austin Starr
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"If life's not beautiful without the pain / well I'd just rather never ever even see beauty again"

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