Call of Duty 2: Review
Call of Duty 2 is the newest WWII FPS (First-Person Shooter) to appear on a Microsoft console, and the first ever for the new Xbox 360.
World War II is probably one of the most analyzed wars of modern times. It has become an extremely popular subject for video game developers and publishers in the last 3 years. I’ve played through Call of Duty 2 for the Xbox 360 and recorded my observations below.
Call of Duty 2: The story
Call of Duty 2 puts you in the boots of three different soldiers in three different areas and timeframes of the war effort. The first scenario has you playing as a Russian infantryman fighting off the invading German army. In the second scenario, you see action as a British soldier fighting the Axis in Africa. The third and final scenario has you playing as an American soldier during the final Allied push into the German homeland.
In between scenarios and missions, the “storyline” is advanced by a diary entry on the loading screen describing the main objective of the next mission. Periodically, still photography and voice-overs supplied by “The Military Channel” document your progress through the larger events of the war.
The control scheme is pretty much the same as any other shooter you might have played on a console. Shoot, reload, jump, etc. Nothing new there. You can also crouch while running and go prone and crawl for cover. Be careful while crawling, because your targeting reticule goes away when you move. I guess you can’t crawl and aim a rifle at the same time. That sounds reasonable enough.
One odd omission in Call of Duty 2 is the inability of your character to peek around objects. I felt rather jealous watching my computer controlled squad mates hiding behind cover and peeking around the corner to spot the enemy. I was forced to move completely from behind cover on several occasions, or even stand upright in the middle of a firefight to spot my shooter.
A few of the missions stray from the usual shooter mechanic and allow you to take control of a mobile gun. In a few missions, you get to ride on top of a vehicle while fending off the enemy troops with a machine gun or a rocket launcher. In one set of missions, you actually get to pilot a tank and control the main gun at the same time.
I was able to transition between control schemes without any problems. These sections were a short but welcome change of tempo that keep you from being overwhelmed by some of the longer gunfights.
Graphics of Call of Duty 2
This is a really nice looking game. It’s not quite a revolutionary advance in graphical quality, but I can definitely notice when I’m playing an original Xbox title now. An increase in polygon count was probably the most noticeable change for me. My fellow squad mates didn’t look nearly as blocky as they would on the original Xbox.
The smoke grenades really made me say “Wow!”. The smoke clouds actually seem to have a depth and presence in the game world that I’ve never experienced before. I’ve never actually thrown a smoke grenade, but the effect seemed realistic:
Visibility decreases slowly as you move into the cloud. Once in the middle of the cloud, you can’t really see ANYTHING, and as you walk out of the cloud, the world slowly comes back into view. The change in visibility was so subtle that I was able to easily find just the right spot on the edge of the cloud that allowed me to pick off the enemies under cover.
The screen layout is minimalist. Your health has the ability to regenerate, very similar to Halo. If you stand in one spot taking damage, your health decreases accordingly, but will begin to increase once you take cover. As your health decreases, instead of seeing your health value decrease, your screen starts to get red and bloodshot around the edges. After getting shot five to seven times in a row, I was definitely able to tell that I was about to die and I needed to take cover. Fast!
There’s also an onscreen indicator that appears anytime there’s a live grenade bouncing around on the ground in your vicinity. It even shows you badly aimed grenades from you and your squad mates.
The sound effects and musical score are both top notch. Lots of really subtle sounds come through clearly. This helps a lot when trying to clear a building full of enemy soldiers. On the other end of the spectrum, explosions sound powerful and dangerous.
Despite the almost non-stop gunfire in certain sections, the sound never really grates on your nerves. All the samples used for the weapons are high quality and most have a very distinctive sound.
Your squad mates are quite the chatty bunch. Besides the normal “Eat this!” CPU soldier banter, they actually contribute quite a bit to completing your missions. There were only a few times when I had to consult the Mission Objective screen.
Most of the time, I was given clear and concise instructions from my squad leader. “Enemy Sniper! Second Floor, Blue building!” It really helps to keep you immersed in the battle.
As you might know, every Xbox 360 title has a minimum of 5 gamer achievements attached to it that must total up to 1000 points. They’re pretty well distributed in this title. You unlock one for completing the training mission, and one for completing the game. You also get one for completing the game on any level above “Normal”.
After that, the rest of the achievements are attached to the various missions on the highest difficulty level. I normally don’t replay first person shooters, but I’m actually considering replaying this one on “Veteran” to add those extra points to my gamer card score.
I haven’t spent a lot of time in the multiplayer mode, but it seems to have all the usual game modes: Capture the Flag, Free For All, and Team Based Deathmatch were all accounted for.
All the Xbox 360 titles benefit from the integrated “True Skill” system as well the new reputation system. The former, allows you to be matched up with people of a similar skill level. The latter, allows you to rate trouble makers and other disruptive players, forcing them to play amongst themselves for the most part.
At this time, there are no multiplayer maps. The only content I saw was the free trailer and the gamer card pictures. You’ll need marketplace points to purchase the gamer picture packs.
In the end, Call of Duty 2 for the Xbox 360 was a fun ride. Not a lot of new ideas in the execution, but definitely a well polished title.
Small things like the simplified HUD and the grenade indicator are good examples of details that demonstrate the developers’ commitment to giving the player an immersive experience.
If you’re looking for a high quality, well assembled shooter, Call of Duty 2 won’t disappoint.
- High production values. Very immersive implementation
- Good use of positional 3D sound
- Missions are varied, logical, and easy to follow
- Varies little from other WWII shooters
- Inability to lean around corners