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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.