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Call of Duty

Developer: Infinity Ward
Publisher: Activision
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Players: 1-32
Similar To: Medal of Honor: Allied Assault
Rating: Teen
Published: 12 :23 : 03
Reviewed By: Ryan Newman

Overall: 9 = Must Buy

Screenshots

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Minimum Req.: P3 700mhz, 128MB RAM, 32MB 3D video card, 1.4gb hd, 8x CD-Rom
Reviewed On: P4 2.5ghz, 512 MB DDR RAM, GeForce 4ti, Win XP Pro

Intro

If there is one event in history that gaming has covered well, it's World War II; not that that is without good reasons, mind you. While many gamers are beginning to scoff at any title with the slightest hint of backtracking to the 1940s to play as either the Axis or Allies, there are always a few standout titles that make going back worthwhile. With Infinity Ward and Activision's Call of Duty, players will get a cinematic and visceral, although linear, chance to play as a Russian, British, and American soldier in one of the better first-person shooters to have come out in some time.


Gameplay: 9/10
Starting off as an American paratrooper landing behind enemy lines to make preparations for D-Day, players will get their first taste of artillery and air bombardments, then proceed to lay siege to and storm houses. From playing the gunner in a car chase that spans several towns and close calls with tanks, to following a squad as they blow up AA guns, the action is fast and constant. Then, as a British soldier, players will hold off waves of infantry and armor as they protect a crucial bridge and also make a daring raid on a POW camp to save a captured officer. The ending segmented campaign comes by way of a Russian soldier who is joining in the defense of Stalingrad with a segment that feels like Jude Law should be popping up at any moment. Rounding out the campaigns are quick ending missions for each, all wrapping up each country's contribution nicely.

While that was a summary of what will go on, taking part in all campaigns is a much more nerve-wrenching experience, with relentless assaults on soft positions (Soviets beating back panzers and waves of infantry as they attempt to storm a three story Soviet-held house) and making mad dashes for panzerchrecks to halt approaching tanks. With the ability to only carry two weapons - which can, fortunately, be two heavier weapons and not just a pistol and rifle - deciding what weapons to swap out for anti-armor weaponry is vital when considering that the tank-poppers are a one-shot deal. Fortunately, the ability to peak has been implemented so as to offer the prudent player a better chance of survival. There is also secondary sight for the weapons, this has the player holding the weapon up and taking careful aim, which slightly zooms in and offers a better rate of accuracy, but suffers from causing the player to move slower. To get the best accuracy and coverage, the player can kneel or lay down for maximum efficiency. Every weapon and ability will be fully utilized throughout the fighting, as combat takes place in both city and open country.

However, for all the intensity and realism the battles muster, the game is also extremely limited in how it is played. The best example of this is that closed doors can't be opened, which is also stated at the beginning of the game. The knowledge of closed doors not being able to be opened helps to keep the pace fast and the path to success clear - thanks also in part to a compass that displays where an objective is, complete with arrows showing if it is above or below the player - but, it also demonstrates the confinements placed onto the player as they aren't allowed to come up with more interesting strategies of their own. Far too often is the player able to find out exactly what will be happening, leaving little room for constant surprises.

Some of the situations created from the forced pathways also lead to some of the more intimate and memorable encounters. So, there's definitely a trade-off aspect, but I still believe there could have - and should have - been more leeway given so that the player could be a little daring.

There are also some great levels in-between the standard levels that really help to break things up. A few feature car chases, with hillside roads and war-torn villages getting the most attention, get the adrenaline bumping, but I certainly wasn't expecting to take control of a tank. In the Soviet's portion, the player gets to command a Tiger and take out a few waves of incoming panzers and troop transports. This isn't Operation FlashPoint, so the controls are far more forgiving, but serving as a way to add variety and to express the progression of the war, it was an excellent choice. There will also be a time when the player has to take control of an AA gun and mow down some planes and troop reinforcements.

Call of Duty is about the most polished first-person shooter that one could hope for. From the scripted sequences to the squad leader barking out orders and fellow squad mates rushing to meet their commander's demands, a little war plays out right in front of the player, and quite often it's up to them how much they want to participate. Although I can't say I'll play through it again, the first experience was at times enthralling and at times frustrating, but a memorable - if short - one nonetheless. With a decent multiplayer mode, I have a good reason to keep it on my hard drive.

Graphics: 9/10
Just about everything looks good; from player to tank models, everything looks solid and has a good amount of detail. The cities and villages look great, with damage done to most structures giving a good sense of the carnage that took place before and after. Firefights will result in bullet holes everywhere and chunks of concrete and wood flying off structures; those details also give the weapons a feeling of actual power. Aside from some random foliage oddities, just about everything in Call of Duty was up to snuff. On particularly neat trick was the slow motion mode that would result from being too close to an explosion: the screen would become blurry and movement would leave trails behind objects, it was very surreal.

Sound: 9/10
The sound is particularly good, with the sounds of battle being distinctive and loud - very loud. Vocal commands are stern but can be drowned out by incoming fire, which is actually warranted and welcomed. Lulls in combat produce sounds of feet stammering across wood and grass, as well as the hustling of uniforms and weapons being reloaded. The music is also good, when it is heard, but it rightly takes a back seat to the effects, making the combat seem much more intense.


Control: 9.5/10
After so much Day of Defeat, it took a while to get used to having to stand back up after going prone and crouching, instead of simply releasing the key of each respective action, but it made sense to have it like that; being, at times, a tactical game, keeping your character in a specific stance for a while would mean some hand-aching if another method was used. Weapon selection uses the old Half-Life method, which still works well, and using the secondary aiming site is as easy as right-clicking, complete with random spurts of inaccuracy. In all, the easy-to-use system keeps everything going at a brisk pace.

Overall: 9/10
Despite its scripted sequences and linear style keeping the campaign replay value low, the initial experience is strong enough to warrant a high recommendation. The multiplayer component is basic, but serviceable as the weapons are handled in such a way that it makes the typical run-and-gun modes seem like much more. A cinematic and visceral, not to mention gorgeous, experience makes Call of Duty a first-person shooter well worth owning.

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Related Links: Activision
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