So you played Call of Duty and loved it. I did too. In fact, I played the single player to death. Then came the expansion pack: United Offensive. Not only did I play the single player over and over again, but organized a dozen LAN’s week after week so we could play the multiplayer deathmatch and team deathmatch ’till my eyes opened no more. This was, for me, one of the best games of all time.
When an expansion pack is released for most games, it’s a blessing. Generally fixing all the previous bugs and adding more content and maps and the tweaks we seem to beg for post after post, thread after thread, forum after forum. Then sometimes there’s a sequal and the excitement builds like a child waiting for Christmas as the release date nears. Screenshots, trailers and if you’re lucky you’ll get to play the demo, teasing you and warming your credit card for your pre-order. This was myself, waiting for “Call of Duty 2.”
After installing the game, grabbing my favourite can of tasty beverage and corn chips and getting my seat just right, I started on my way to World War history. The intro was typical “CoD” style. A brief history of war and what was to become your destiny.
The first scene is always the same, entering the war zone, getting your hands on your first gun and practising how to aim, fire, throw grenades and move around your environment. Like the first “CoD,” it’s not long before action starts and before you know it you’re in the thick of it. Man, the game looks good. The graphics are sensational. Still very “CoD”-looking but with more atmosphere, more snow in the air, more smoke and a more realistic view of the surrounding warzone. Ah yes and the smoke from your smoke ‘nades is amazing. Throw a smoke grenade, run into the midst of it and look around. It’s all just smoke and it looks fantastic. Awesome for hiding from the enemy as you run through a fire-fight and the smoke grenade will soon become a trusty companion you don’t want to run out of.
The fighting is intense. Very intense. Bullets spray all around as you advance toward the German lines. The AI seem highly intelligent, just as promised. An enemy grenade falls nearby and your fellow soldiers will pick it up and throw it back. To your entertainment (or mine at least) they sometimes don’t quite let go quick enough and although missing that exploding mountain of red jelly, they do undertake some seriously funny gymnastic rolls.
Not just quick to return fire and enemy ‘nades, the AI will flank and hide behind cover whilst re-loading, sometimes asking you for covering fire as they do. Quite a few times I was surprised by enemy AI who hide around corners or behind wreckage then jump out and give you a spray. Shoot them down and wait before advancing, as some of those guys aren’t dead and with the last few breaths of life they’ll draw a pistol and have one last shot at you. For this trait of the AI I give credit to infinity ward.
To my dismay however, the AI seemed to become more and more stupid as the game went on. Numerous times I had fellow soldiers block my way through a trench or doorway with the only way through being left to shooting them, which of course is a big “no no” and after being branded a traitor you start the mission again. In two particular spots the same soldier blocked my way and I had to restart the scene four times before he finally appeared to work it out. This was very disappointing as it added almost an hour to game time, repeating the same scene over and over again.
Further to my already shrinking patience is the new health scheme. No medi-packs to get you back on your feet but a strange and magical power to regain your health by simply taking cover for a few seconds. Well, it works once or twice until you’re obviously bleeding to death and then there’s this highly annoying breathing from your character which is louder than the environment and doesn’t stop… until you’re dead. If you are close to death when you cross a script pointÂ in the game, when you restart the scene you seem to be less able to cop a few rounds. At one point in the game I was stuck in wrecked buildings with Germans all around me and everytime I died I would respawn with the ability to only absorb one or two rounds before dying again.
Before “Call of Duty 2″ was released I glued myself to the internet, finding out all the information I could about a game I’d waited for all year. Somewhere I read about how this version wasn’t as scripted as the original. Yeah? I’d love someone to show me how. The script bugs are terrible. If you rush a stage and don’t blow things up in order then the script hangs and you are unable to proceed any further. I could go on about other bugs that clearly needed ironing out but I think you get the idea.
The sounds have been digitally re-recorded and the difference between this and the original is quite noticeable. The ability to place the exact position of your enemy by their voice or footsteps is still way off, and changing from my EAX3 to other settings didn’t make that much difference. Aside from positional reference, the sounds are great, and the dull thud from a well placed headshot is almost creepy.
So how do I, a massive Call of Duty fanboy, conclude a review on a game that I had such high expectations of? Well if it’s more intense World War historical battle you’re after, then get out there and grab a copy. You won’t be disappointed about how great it looks or how much fun and full-on the game can be. If you frequent LAN’s or enjoy slaughtering your mates (or strangers), online multiplayer is just as entertaining as the original and furthers longevity to the game once you’ve finished the single player campaign. If you’re like me and you were looking forward to new gameplay and more freedom of action then maybe I’d think twice before shelling out your hard earned pocket money.