Just like Medal of Honor before it Call of Duty is now embracing the handheld market. The release of Call of Duty: Roads to Victory marks the series debut on Sony’s portable juggernaut, and for the most part delivers the same intense action and diversity that the series is known for. You will spend the majority of the game mowing down Nazis in broken down German villages all while tossing in some aerial battles and calling down the thunder with air strikes to break up the pace. The big question here though is this enough to overcome the shortcomings that plague all other action titles on the PSP; a second analog stick.
Throughout the fourteen single-player missions you will assume the role of a US, Canadian, and British soldier not far removed from the console iteration. What is different here though is the mission structure. Each obstacle has only one solution and the challenge of accomplishing said obstacle is dumbed down thanks to the included auto-aim feature. This also leads to head shots becoming more of a common occurrence as opposed to a skillful tactic. Activision has also upped the ante with a nice selection of unlockables such as PSP wallpaper for players who earn good rankings on the missions.
The default control scheme is by far the best and should be familiar to anyone who has played just about any other action title on the PSP. You use the face buttons on the right side of the handheld to aim and look around while moving with the analog nub. The inclusion of the aforementioned auto-aim is vital for this port; turning it off will no doubt ensue frustration as the general aiming is jerky at best.
There are also limitations to the control scheme that require you to change your style of play. For instance you can not run and throw a grenade simultaneously. This adds a whole new dynamic to the game play mechanic and requires you to rely on the questionable AI to not see you as you intend to toss the potato masher.
It’s obvious that developer Amaze knew that players would not be able to keep up with the frantic pace of the game without assistance, which explains the inclusion of auto-aim, but they also really took the AI down a notch to compensate even more. Most firefights will star you mowing down tons of enemies without ever taking any damage. This does remove a sense of challenge in the game, but it’s completely understandable as to why they chose this route.
All is not lost however as CoD: RtV is one of the most feature-filled multi-player experiences on a handheld to date. Players can engage in up to six player battles with the traditional set of modes such as Capture the Flag, King of the Hill, and of course the traditional Deathmatch. The downside to all of this is that there is no existence of Infrastructure play to be found. This is most disappointing because at the beginning of the development cycle it was planned to be included. Also noticeably absent is game sharing, so if you want to hook up with your buddies for some WWII action everyone will have to shell out for their own copy of the game.
Visually the game is surprisingly impressive for the hardware it’s running on. You will definitely get the feel of being in the middle of the most famous war in all of videogames. The environments are varied and sport some impressive texture work and the models are astonishingly well animated. The sound is typical CoD fare with incredible sound effects and a superb score, but we still recommend tying on the headphones to get the best all around experience.
At the end of the day CoD: RtV is exactly what you would expect from a pint-sized version of its console brother. While the auto-aim and brain-dead AI make the game a cake walk, it still satisfies in small doses which is the definition of portable gaming. If you are a fan of the series looking for a way to take the action wherever you go then this game is worth checking out. For everyone else this is just another PSP title that misses the mark due to the technical limitations of the hardware.