Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 11.18.05
Introduction:Call of Duty 2: Big Red One developed by Treyarch, and personnel from Gray Matter thankfully give us a new Call of Duty game rather then another expansion pack. The Big Red One is a fine dose of Call of Duty action keeping true to everything the series stands for. Eyes at attention! As I explore the missions of the Big Red One.
The Game: You're first question is probably what is the Big Red One?, well it's easier to explain then it sounds. Big Red One is the name of the military division you play through out the game. The team is based on real 1st Infantry Division of the United States Army. The division was nicknamed "Big Red One" because of its bright red shoulder patch. The teams motto was "Duty First", and "No Mission is Too Difficult" and this translates perfectly into the Call of Duty experience.
Needless to say the Big Red One division was pretty famous and there is even a movie of the same name that was released in 1980 by Samuel Fuller staring Lee Marvin (The Delta Force, Dog Day). Activision did their research and brings us a close to the real setting as the can with authentic in the weapons, locations and events. The Special Edition section of the disc you can go deep into the background of how they made the game right down to the level and sound design, with extra period footage included. If you're interested in the gaming development or a history buff the special edition is for you.
The game takes the player through the liberation of North Africa, tanks included, to an invasion force landing in Italy . Then you follow the epic events at Omaha Beach to get into the real menace in Germany . There is a strong importance to story telling in Big Red One and they really try and put an emotional touch to each character in the game. As your team faces the many obstacles you will see them bonding while showing the effects of war as time progresses. Like Brother in Arms, Big Red One gives personality to men behind the guns, the tribulations, and emotions while tread through the enemy lines.
Everything in Call of Duty 2's gaming world is realistic; they didn't stick to real life for the action. This game is fast, and it has more in common with Doom then Day of Defeat. Big Red One is boosted up like all the previous Call of Duty games you will do a fair amount of following and wild gunning. This game is meticulously planned out and you will always know what direction you have to go, and usually what's going to happen next. Some sequences are really cool, and then other things like invisible walls and respawning enemies are not. Having a planned out run and gun game isn't necessary a bad thing because of the cinematic approach, but if you are a stickler for "real" shooters, you will be disappointed in Call of Duty 2.
I'm sure it wasn't this easy for the brave solders in the war, but for this gamer it was an effortless because the AI in COD2: BRO (Call of Duty 2: Big Red One) is pretty awful. This works on both sides, at times everything seems copasetic, but then you see some really weird behavior. You can be point blank in front of the enemy and they can miss you, secondly you can shoot them point blank and they may or may not bite the biscuit. The enemies along with your team at times follow odd paths and ignore their surrounding and situations and will often wonder around. Topping it all of is that it seems like your team is bulletproof because they absorb bullets like nothing I've seen before. When someone around your squad dies it's scripted, and it will happen over and over. If you happen to replay a section of the game there is no hope for much variation. The whole treatment of the AI shows a few bugs that where missed, and some sketchy situations. It's not enough that it ruins the game, but you will defiantly notice it.
If the single player mission throws you for a rut or you finish the game there is plenty of multiplayer to enjoy on Xbox Live. COD2: BRO supports 16 players in a number of your typical modes like Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and Domination. It's pretty fun even though it's just the basics. The maps are designed with a great deal nice hide outs and ambush areas in multiplayer and it's a lot of fun.
Call of Duty 2: Big Red One plays smooth and is lots of fun if you forgive the AI's confusing logic. Any gamer will be able to jump into this one and find a few missions that get the blood pumping.
Graphics & Sound: Part of the famous Band of Brothers (Spielberg, Hanks TV Show 2001) cast lends a helping hand in developing the visual and audio content for Big Red One. Having this excellent and experienced group of actors really helped the development team home in on what they exactly wanted. Each actor had extensive acting experience as well has been trained in military boot camps. Although, the same effect could have been pulled off by using the normal root animation and non-celebrity actors, this group blends to make the overall product more natural feeling. The unique use of group motion capture was a great idea, and it seems be the right pick because Big Red One comes together seamlessly bringing a human touch to the game.
Besides the obvious good animation and voice over work, the audio is done effectively as one would expect. There is so much going on that you really need a surround sound system to get the full effect. This goes double for the environments; they are always moving and pulsating with action. I did find the textures to be a little rough around the edges, and it could be a little sharper, but considering everything else works it's nothing to complain about. Big Red One does a superb job in the audio and visual department and this is a great game just to sit down and watch someone play because of its masterful full scenarios.
Mojo: I normally don't have as good of time with a Call of Duty game then I did with Big Red One. I let go of my Brothers in Arms love and just went for the ride and it was a blast. Either controlling the massive vehicles, or running and gunning in the streets of Italy , it was all good. I really dug the variety and movie like quality of the experience. Multiplayer was fun and I found a good group of gamers. The mojo is packed in as much it could be and I'm sure everyone can enjoy one moment where they say "Whoa, That Was Cool".
Lowdown:COD2: BRO needs to be seen as a blend between entertainment and gaming to get the most out of the experience. It's not perfect, but Call of Duty's 2 cinematic, action packed missions, and authentic settings will keep you intrigued while the ride lasts.
Game: 7, Graphics/Sound: 8, Innovation: 6, Mojo: 8. Final: 7.5 / 10