"We make war that we may live in peace."
Call of Duty 2 & 3
Release Date: November 2005, 2006
Developer: Infinity Ward / Treyarch
ESRB Rating: Teen
Reviewed by: Brian Wray
The Call of Duty series debuted in 2004 on the PC. The World War II first person shooter had already convinced the PC gaming world of its superiority over any other WWII shooter of the time. It managed this with a solid single player experience that stood out from the competition by de-emphasizing the “lone super soldier” of other similar games, and introduced supporting characters to assist the player in accomplishing his/her tasks. Call of Duty also differed in that the gamer actually played the game from different perspectives. Call of Duty 2 & 3 follows the exact same basic recipe while adding a few new features to spice up the mix.
Call of Duty 2 was released along side the Xbox 360 in November of 2005. Those lucky enough to get their hands on one of the new consoles were treated to a spectacular launch title. The game featured some amazing visuals (for the time). The screen would often be filled with enemy and friendly soldiers battling it out for control of a city or area. Adding to the gritty visuals was the amazing surround sound effect of bullets wizzing by, bombs going off all around our main hero, soldiers screaming in agony. War, even virtual war is heck. The game set the standard for all games that followed. Now a year later, Call of Duty 3 surpasses on all the standards set by its predecessor. Since Call of Duty 2 and 3 are so similar in nature, this review will cover both.
Call of Duty 2 introduces the gamer to four new campaigns, split into three story lines. As with the previous title, each new campaign is told from the perspective of different soldiers; one Russian, two Brits, and an American. In contrast, Call of Duty 3 only has one single campaign, but retains the multiple perspective feature of the previous games. Also Call of Duty 3 finally acknowledges that Canada was a part of WWII. Yuppers, a couple Canadians and Polish soldiers got a bit of spotlight in a war that many must believe was fought completely between the US and England against Germany and Japan. No one ever said the Call of Duty series was historically accurate.
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The gameplay is strictly a first person shooter. Both games offer a large variety of WWII weapons that can be used to blow the enemy to next war. There is no real health bar to monitor in this game. Similar to Halo and Halo 2 on the Xbox, Call of Duty 2 and 3 features replenish able health meter. Take a few bullets, no biggie, just hide for a short while and it will heal itself, but take to many and it’s light out my friend. Each game also features various difficulty levels to accommodate gamers of all skill levels. For the weekend soldier there is the casual mode, a mode that allows players to pretty much let the AI take out all opponents, while the seasoned soldier among us can select Veteran mode which will even make Rambo cry.
Both games also share similar deficiencies. The artificial intelligence that controls everyone but the main player is pretty shoddy at best. I do not expect virtual Einsteins but even the dumbest animal knows to run away when in danger. It always amazed me at how I could find a good spot where I would sustain minimum gun fire and just pick off the enemy one after the other as they all came out a doorway or similar confined structure. The huge pile of dead bodies should have been a giveaway to stay away. In a similar fashion, co-soldiers would constantly run out into the open to be mowed down in a barrage of enemy bullets. I actually enjoyed this as it gave away the enemy location. Also team-mates replenish from an unlimited supply so it’s not a big deal, unless you are striving for a bit of realism.
Both Call of Duty 2 and 3 share very similar visuals. Call of Duty 2 featured a grimy dirty look. Perhaps to demonstrate the actual despair of war, but the game appears bland and mostly void of colour. Even the green fields are subdued, as if also covered in grime. The graphics appear a bit more enhanced in CoD3, but the same depressing tone still resides. The drab looks actually do work for these titles. I have never been to war, nor do I want to, but I can only imagine that a world covered in dirt, mud and shoot of a war torn world would appear very dirty and grimy so do not take this comment as a complaint.
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The strength of the Call of Duty series has been rooted in the incredible single player game but the lasting appeal has come from its incredible online capabilities. Both games offer a similar strong multiplayer experience. Call of Duty 2 offers the options of popular multiplayer game modes such as Deathmatch , Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Headquarters or Search And Destroy. Both games are limited to just 8 players. Again this is not a knock on the game as the level design is such as that there is little wasted time to get into the action. Call of Duty 3 did not vary much from this recipe. Choices now are Battle, Team Battle, War, Capture the Flag, Single CTF, and Headquarters. The only real change is the renaming of Deathmatch to Battle and War similar to Search and Destroy. The only new game mode is Single CTF. Call of Duty 3 does increase the limit of players in one game to 24. The major noticeable change with CoD3 is the implementation of Classes. At the start of each round, players must select one of 7 different classes to fight as. Weapons will be assigned weapons according to the class chosen. This is a similar approach that is used by Battlefield 2 and Team Fortress.
I will highly recommend both titles. If strapped for cash, and only one can be purchased, the choice should come down to gaming preference. Call of Duty 2 features a much better single player experience, while Call of Duty 3 has improved Multiplayer experience. Oh and Call of Duty 2 can be had for $30 or less (even new).