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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Shooter

 

Publisher

Activision

 

Developer

Infinity Ward

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

Q4 2005

 

 

- Gorgeous graphics and effects

- Variety in campaign play

- Addictive and engrossing

- Good enemy and team AI

 

 

- Not much new, which is only really a half con

 

 

Review: Call of Duty (PC)

Review: Call of Duty 2 (360)

Review: Brothers in Arms: The Road to Hill 30 (XB)

 

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Call of Duty 2

Score: 8.5 / 10

 

I loved the first entry into the series and the expansion pack to Call of Duty. There have been a lot of first person shooters based on World War II in the past few years and I think the Call of Duty series is the best of the bunch in terms of creating an engrossing cinematic single player campaign. Although I'm not a fan of multiplayer gaming, I know that many people liked the original as well for its solid offerings. This sequel to the series also offers a variety of multiplayer game modes as well as a single player campaign worthy to follow the first installment.

 

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If it weren't for the title when you first start the game, you might think you were playing the first Call of Duty. The game menus look the same as the original. When you die and reload, you are treated with a variety of quotes from various historical figures on the subject of war, just as you were in the first game. Once you start playing though, you won't mistake this game for the first one. The real change to be seen in the sequel is the graphics. The requirements to get a smooth gaming experience may be steep for some, but as I recently upgraded to a 7800GT with an AMD Athlon 64 based system, I was able to crank up the settings and enjoy some truly spectacular visuals. The effects are breathtaking and the full scenes of fierce battle in a variety of locations look fantastic.

 

Next, although the game is once again broken up into a Russian, a British and an American Campaign, the content of each is different enough from each other and from the original in order to keep things interesting. The Russian campaign once again has you fighting in artillery ruined cityscapes. Although these were my favorite missions in the original, these are the ones I found the most similar to the original this time around. Although I still enjoyed the Russian campaign, it was my least 

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favorite among the three. The city battles are intense and tough, but there were too few truly interesting twists through out. It does serve as a spectacular introduction to the game though for revisiting fans and for new players alike. I'll also note that it is only in hindsight after having completed the game, that I preferred the other two campaigns to the Russian one. When you first start playing through the game, starting with the Russian campaign, I have no doubt that you will not believe that the game could be any better.

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But it does get better with the British and American campaigns. With the British, the majority of the campaign takes place in the North African Desert, with it eventually come back to clear up the French town of Caen. One of the highlights of the British campaign is your ability to pilot a tank through the desert battles. The historical style briefings between battles serve up interesting knowledge about the context of the battles and in this mission, this integration was excellent. Because the German tanks had a longer range, the British had to use the cover of dust kicked up in battles to outmaneuver and rush the German tanks in order to be effective. You're told this in the briefing but then having to play through this with the excellent level design was a treat. Also great in the British campaign was escaping from a Tunisian village in a jeep was also fantastic. You eventually get stopped, but the retreating fight is equally intense.

 

The highlight of the game is the D-Day landing at the cliffs of Pointe Du Hoc. Here, you will have to scale a sheer cliff while artillery and enemy fire rains down from above. It's a great battle that seems unimaginable with regard to how the objectives were actually accomplished back in the day. The frantic rush to cover your ascending allies with sniper fire is just that; a frantic rush. Another great mission is the battle for Hill 400. Here you will need to advance on entrenched German artillery positions a-top a hill and then hold that position from a relentless German counterattack. The constant attack from all around once you are a-top the hill leads to plenty of crazy firefights.

 

The bulk of the remainder of the missions play somewhat similarly; this is after all a World War II shooter. You will be clearing many bunkers, ruined houses and entrenched enemy positions. While these do not stand out as the missions above do, because they are the bulk of what makes up the game, it is a good thing that it is as solid as can be. The enemy AI is good and will attempt to gain and control the best firing positions as well as try to flank your position. Likewise, your team AI will follow your lead and cover your advance if you attempt to flank, and they will advance head on when possible as well. The enemy will also use a lot of grenades should you attempt to dig in and suppress their position. The level design leaves nothing to be desired as different gaming styles will find it is possible to achieve their objective the way they want to. There are many entrances to buildings and many positions that allow alternate routes to flank upon.

 

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There isn't too much that is new to the actual gameplay itself though. This is both a good and bad thing; good because the original was just so darn good, but bad because I for one do like to see new ideas in sequels. However, what has been changed, I found to be all fantastic improvements. First, there are no more health packs, and there is no health meter. Now, if you take too much enemy fire your screen will start to glow red around the edges. This effect becomes more intense as you take more fire until you are eventually killed. You can recover when you start to see the edges glow red by taking cover and not taking any more fire until the effect wears off. Of course, you can keep fighting and hope you don't take any more damage.

 

A fantastic introduction is the implementation of smoke grenades. Not only does the effect look absolutely fabulous, its implementation into the gameplay is equally great. When there is no other choice but to advance forward through direct enemy fire, smoke grenades are invaluable for actually making such an advance possible. This also leads to some nerve wracking moments when you find yourself face to face with enemy troops behind their lines. Luckily the melee attack is effective for these situations. However you will also find that the enemy AI provides some harrowing moments with the use of the melee attack where German troops will let out a blood curdling scream and charge at you with the butt of their rifle raised, ready to connect with your head. I found these smoke screen battles to be among the most rewarding as you can really affect the effectiveness of your unit's attack by pushing deep into the enemy ranks and attacking their position from within.

 

Call of Duty 2 is fabulous and should not be missed by any fans of the first person genre. The campaigns contain historical battles that havenít been previously covered, from what I have played and the exceptional production values must be seen. There are many great World War II games but in my mind Call of Duty 2 is the best of the bunch.

 

- Mark Leung

(December 28, 2005)

 

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