Nov 7, 2007
We're going to be brutally honest here - no one takes handheld ports of AAA games seriously. Blame it on the piles of shoveled-out-there GBA ports from back in the day. The console versions get all the attention, both from developers and gamers, while the portable translation is overlooked and basically DOA. Well, we're not about to say Call of Duty 4 is going to buck the trend, but it's certainly much better than you'd think.
As with Metroid Prime Hunters, you move around with the d-pad and look/aim with the stylus. It's a fairly close approximation of the mouse/keyboard setup, but instantly uncomfortable. One hand is cradling the entire unit while the other moves the stylus. Meanwhile, the same hand that's holding and using the d-pad must also shoot with the L button. It works, but good luck finding a comfortable way to play for more than 10-15 minutes at a time.
Once you settle in to a moderately comfortable zone, however, the gameplay is pretty ok. It's a thoroughly watered-down version of the console game, but you're still hoofing from bombed-out house to bombed-out factory to sea-sprayed freighter, blasting baddies and disarming bombs like the big console boys. To break up the shoot-hide-shoot gameplay, some missions have mounted machine guns or rocket launchers that you'll use to shatter incoming vehicles (resulting in some very nice explosions). Other breaks include touchscreen minigames that (gasp) don't feel horribly tacked on. There's even a whole boatload of voiced dialogue during missions.
It all sounds very exciting, but the actual handling of your soldier is incredibly clunky. You'll get stuck to walls, crammed in doorways and zoom in to fire when all you wanted to do was look around. Enemies take anywhere from three to 20 bullets to die - the exact opposite of the one-hit kills in the console game. Event-spawned enemies and drab visuals add to the dastardly recipe, making this a bubbling cauldron of everything you hated about '90s-era shooters.
Multiplayer is available single card or multi, though our time spent with it was less than grand. The fact that you can play single card at all is a nice plus, especially for those who're considering a purchase, but the levels just aren't any fun. Stick to the solo game and you'll get a decent, serviceable shooter that would have been memorable in 2000 - today, not so much. It does a respectable job of replicating the console experience, but it's still no replacement for the real thing.