You have to give Nokia credit, lately. They release the N-Gage and suffer side-talkin’ shenanigans and websites specifically designed to mock their product. Rather than running home with their tails between their legs, they redesign the product and launch it all over again. Unfortunately, many people didn’t notice and perhaps that’s the greatest fear here as well. Nokia is releasing some damn good games, some exclusive, and Pathway to Glory is one of them. Say what you want about competition or the N-Gage’s chances, the truth is that Nokia is doing everything possible to try to make you notice. Perhaps it’s time you should.
Pathway to Glory is a single or multiplayer (Bluetooth and GPRS) title that sets you in World War II and in control of several soldiers who have unique abilities and stats. They will follow your lead and will continue to follow your orders until you get them killed. It should be noted that it’s in your best interests to keep them alive for the obvious reasons, but also because (a la Military Madness) your units gain and keep experience and fight better because of it. The army is politically correct in that the individuals are each from different countries and their war cries are in their native tongue.
The game takes place in 1943 in the European theatre of World War II, beginning with the invasion of Sicily. Obviously, missions are debriefed and followed up by a history lesson (short one, trust me) as to the background of the operation in question. It’s a nifty-keen feeling to know that what you are doing might have actually been done and had an impact on history.
The game-map that is rendered on the N-Gage’s pint-sized screen is full of obstacles and has keenly placed strategic elements throughout the various missions. Pay attention to maps, devise a strategy based on those maps, or you’ll lose. The enemy AI is decent enough, however while your unit really acts like a unit, they seem to be collectively untied. That’s not to say that they are stupid, they aren’t. They use cover, they shoot you, and they pay attention to elevation advantages.
Your unit has access to various weapons to hump around. The more they are carrying, the less space you’ll be able to move per turn. You can cleverly fire from a crouch (which will help protect you from hostile fire, but will reduce your range) or you can fire from the upright position (which will extend your range, but expose you). You can control what unit(s) are doing what and whether to be aggressive or passive in your assault on a position. Equally, you have access to certain vehicles (tanks and jeeps, for example) during certain scenarios and the wise use of these is tantamount to achieving victory. While we’re on the victory march, you can expect to play certain scenarios for over an hour before you achieve anything, so be prepared. The only thing that might have been overlooked here is the fact that once you make a move, you can’t change your mind. I guess that’s realistic enough, how many commanders have the opportunity to "take back" and order that they just gave?
This game has been billed by Nokia as being one of the best examples of what the N-Gage is capable of, and it is. The music is very strong, and is perhaps among the best handheld soundtracks of the year. Graphically, this game looks better than a PSone game. The sprites are very detailed and the environments and the attention paid to the minute details is astounding. The truth here is that if this were released on any other handheld, people would be lining up to buy it. It’s about time everyone got off of Nokia’s back and went back to being truly objective. The system deserves it and with quality releases like this, King of Fighters, and Requiem of Hell, it’s time to take it a bit more seriously. Nokia isn’t playing around. The bottom line here is that if you’re a fan of Military Madness, Third World War, or Iron Storm, there's nothing here that will remotely disappoint you.