When you play a World War II shooter to completion and can't remember a single standout moment, or even which order the levels came, you know something's wrong. Midway's Xbox 360 exclusive FPS Hour of Victory has tried to muscle in on the territory currently dominated by Call of Duty, but falls so far short that it's hard to know where to begin the criticism.
Firstly, it would be wrong to say that Hour of Victory is utterly terrible. While it falls on the worse side of average it's not completely dire, thanks largely to some decent if uninspired visuals. The big problem is that developers nFusion have taken a 32-bit era video game design and slotted it into the Unreal Engine 3. Absolutely nothing about Hour of Victory feels next-gen and the sense of war is almost completely absent.
The hook of Hour of Victory is the ability to play as one of three characters. In true video game fashion you have the hard as nails soldier who has nothing but brute strength and aggression; the stealth expert, who can sneak up on unsuspecting enemies; and the sniper, who quite obviously can take enemies out from long range while atop high vantage points. Each level has sections that can only be accessed by a certain character, so in theory you're able to play each mission three times.
In practice it all seems a little unrealistic and makes the game feel a little restrictive. Why can't the strong soldier kick down a door instead of picking the lock and why is a fairly simple to climb rope not an option to all three guys? The idea of choice is a good one, but in Hour of Victory you have none once a mission has started. Make the game about one super elite soldier who has all the skills and the game would suddenly have opened up into a more diverse shooter.
Of course, simple gameplay can sometimes be fun, but not when core elements like enemy AI are so broken. At times enemy soldiers seem to know what they're doing, but more often than not they'll ignore your presence, wander around aimlessly or just let you wander up and melee them to death - a move that seems more effective than gun-fire. You get to drive a tank a few times and man a turret or two, but these add nothing to the game and seem like they've been included in a desperate attempt to add some variety.
And before you've worked out what's going on with the story, it's all over. For a next-gen game with a next-gen price tag it's far too short, especially considering that there are no standout moments or events. A 12-player online mode with numerous game types is available, but I didn't manage to find a game with more than six players and what's on offer is easily bettered in both of the Call of Duty titles on the 360.
With this winter full of high profile shooters it's almost certain that Midway felt a summer release for Hour of Victory was essential, but what's been released is hugely disappointing - especially on a console that has been relatively dross free. By no means the worst game ever released, but certainly one of the poorer efforts on the Xbox 360.