Call of Duty 3 Review

The venerable Call of Duty series is one of the many (read: way too many) World War II simulators that actually surprised me with its frantic gun-play, scripted and unscripted events and pure hyperactive mayhem that seemed to best capture the feeling of being in a full-blow war. Obviously, the series has become incredibly popular. This latest iteration takes place in 1944 where you’ll take on the roles of different soldiers from America, Britain, Poland and Canada. While the story is somewhat weak and the previous games have pretty much covered this territory in full, it’s still a hell of a ride.

One of the first things that will jump out at you when you first run CoD3 is the awesome graphics, and it only gets better –this is truly the look of next-gen. From the fantastic character models to the rich landscapes and run-down buildings, every bit of grass, dirt and brick is unbelievably detailed. When you use the iron-sights of every perfectly modeled weapon, you will actually see depth-of-field focus on the object you are focusing on. This means that if you are pointed at a wall, the engine will simulate human vision and blur the area beyond the wall because you are focusing on what you’re looking at. It’s a subtle effect, but strikingly effective at adding to the realism. There are also a number of impressive fires and explosions running throughout the lengthy campaigns.

Graphics, however, aren’t everything — even if they are terrific. It comes down to the gameplay, the story and most importantly, is it FUN? Well, yes, it is. However, being the third title in this series has its drawbacks. If you’ve played the first 2 games you will immediately feel like you’re in familiar territory — very familiar territory. While sprucing up the look of the game and tacking on a plot that is ultimately unnecessary, they neglected to really…change anything. The missions and environments and battles all look roughly the same. I swear, I saw the same trench levels and house levels almost to the exact detail in CoD2. Some things are definitely different, but in the department of the weapons, level design and combat you would simply not notice the difference if it weren’t for the enhanced graphics. This kind of sloppy indifference in a sequel is usually unforgivable. However, CoD gets off the hook because their formula is really fun already; it doesn’t need a huge change.

Sound is another area where this game stands out; if you have optical audio out of a full 5.1 system this game will shake your house. The never-ending hail of bullets punctuated with massive concussive explosives both near and far, while the cries of your squad all around you in positional audio is totally immersing. The actual weapons themselves all have satisfying bangs, and the voice acting is none too shabby, either. You get a bevy of accented soldiers with French, American and British accents, and all are handled relatively well with nothing to shake the illusion.

Speaking of illusion, this game’s attempt to draw you into the experience of war is nothing shy of perfection. However, its shaky plot-line designed to make you think you’re actually a soldier in-between is weak at best. If you’re not getting your objectives or finding out exactly what to do, you’ll likely take the cutscenes as well-needed breaks from the overwhelming action, and pretty much ignore the plot. However, I will say you won’t really miss it too much once you get back onto the action.

How you play is also an important factor here, as I’ve always felt that 3D first person shooters have never meshed well with console controllers and therefore suffer more than their PC counterparts when it comes to the control scheme and accuracy. While I still believe this, CoD has made great strides in making the action feel natural and responsive. You can adjust settings, but it’s fairly well balanced out the gate. But at times, you’ll still find yourself too slow to turn-around or too sluggish to aim for that one tiny piece of a soldier that you can see behind his cover. Since cover is so very important, both to you and your AI opponents will use it often, so a more accurate means of control would have been nice.

The difficulty of this game is also set to easy — even on normal, if you catch my drift. You will quickly clear its 10-15 hours worth of gameplay on the default setting as the AI isn’t too evil, and the motions of combat are repetitive. If you’ve played CoD before you’ll probably immediately want to go at least a notch up from normal right off the bat, which makes things sufficiently more interesting. But that’s a matter of taste, of course.

In your adventures you’ll also be able to drive vehicles and ride in them either picking off bad guys or letting your buddies do it while you drive. These scenes are fun and break up the action nicely. On top of these little distractions are weird mini-games that they threw in to mix it up some. For instance, when you plant a bomb you don’t simply wait there, you have to place it, arm it, and pull the pin and run. This is accomplished by small directional swivels of the control sticks. In another area you’re a rower on a canoe and have to make rowing motions to move the boat forward. You also end up in face-to-face melee combat with German soldiers on occasion and have to frantically push the shoulder buttons to ‘shake them off’ before killing them. They’re very small, quick actions, but they keep what are essentially cutscenes more interesting.

There’s a lot to cover here, but if I had to sum up the experience of playing Call of Duty 3, I would say that it’s an engrossing, frantic and exciting game that you will not regret picking up. It’s a marvel to behold, a lot of fun, and the very pinnacle of WWII simulators. I mention this simply because I would like to ask the world at large to please stop making them, as 50 games are enough to cover the experience. However, World War II sells, and until something better comes along the Call of Duty series will be my weapon of choice to re-live WWII. You won’t be blasted in the face by originality when it comes to the mechanics, but call this an excellent Call of Duty "2.5" upgrade.



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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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