Reviewed by Reznik | 01.16.06
Introduction:If there's one thing the world needs more of , it's more games based on World War II. From FPS to RTS they've covered the bloodiest, most gruesome, and most glorified war in the history of the human race numerous times over. The Call of Duty series garnered attention in 2003 for the most visceral and immersive WWII experience, and was hailed by many as the 2003 game of the year. The sequel (excluding console ports which never quite lived up to the original PC counterpart) comes to 360 as arguably the most impressive launch title to show off what the 360 is capable of, though falls short in one key area.
The Game:From the opening cinematics to the chaotic firefights through various tours of duty throughout the European theatre, quite simply it's the immersion that sets CoD2 apart from it's ever-so-numerous WWII game counterparts. If you're familiar with various WWII movies like 'Enemy at the Gates' or 'Saving Private Ryan' (or if you're quite simply a History Channel aficionado) you'll be familiar with the various areas and missions you'll be re-enacting as you progress throughout the game as the Russians, the British, and the Americans. Geography and events are quite nearly true-to-life, as you storm the Germans to retake Stalingrad as a low-ranking soldier of the Russian army, or as you overtake the cliffs just south of the beach at Normandy (I've 'stormed the beach at Normandy' so many times this slight variation was a welcome change). The personal 'journal entries' and the stock WWII historical footage all help to fully enthrall you in not just the game, but the era.
Gameplay has a strong emphasis on not being the singular hero. You will not be the lone-wolf out to save the universe all by your lonesome, perhaps with a couple squad-mates with simplistic AI to send out as enemy fire fodder while you wait to run out and take down the enemy army single-handedly. While the decisive events for each mission will usually rest on your shoulders, your allies are not just cogs in the gameplay, but actual viable gameplay elements. There were a couple times when after getting lost in the ruins of an entire city, my only saving grace was following one of my comrades, or running out of ammunition while facing an entrenched squad of Germans only to be saved by the fire of my allies. Enemy AI is also well crafted and prevent you from tearing through wave after wave of zombies with guns.
Controls are tight, and familiar which allow for even casual gamers to pick up and enjoy, while having the extra features for more hardened veterans like binoculars and a sniper's breath-holding to steady your long-range shot. There is a lean toward the more 'realistic' side of equipment and weapons, you can only carry two weapons at a time, and (very) long-fuses on grenades. but the infinite ammo on the mounted stationary guns and health-recovery help to keep the game from being too realistic (and therefore not fun ).
The action is chaotic and frenzied, as it should be. Not being able to clearly identify friend or foe at first glance (until the name pops up just after you squeezed the trigger), and enemy fire from somewhere ahead of you help keep the excitement up, and capture the chaos of the battles you're involved in. While the missions are primarily linear with a few multiple objective choices, the levels are huge and varied, and do not disappoint.
Multi-player is where the game loses the most points. Not that it's not enjoyable, with more game modes than just the mandatory deathmatch and the inclusion of objective-based team modes. it's the Live integration that seems a little rushed, not surprising for a launch title that something had to be missing. Offline supports up to 4 players split-screen however don't really bother with less than three friends as even the smaller levels are quite massive. Online supports up to 16 players, and while the action is fun and frenetic, it's the lack of forming parties, and random lobbies that is the multi-player's main drawback. If you have one friend over, the omission of co-op or both playing online simultaneously will probably have you taking turns on single-player.
Single-Player Game: Outstanding 9 out of 10 |
Multi-Player Game: Could be improved 7.5 out of 10
Graphics & Sound:Graphics are top-notch, even on par with the PC version (provided you have the high-end system required for such graphical beauty). The levels are massive and varied, with texturing and elements to really convey the atmosphere of war-torn Europe . Particle effects, lighting, and crispness of detail are outstanding, with obvious perks like the smoke-grenade in full-bloom is simply beautiful, while the little touches like dirt and dust particles on your binocular vision showing the attention to detail that I personally appreciate.
Sound is what put this game over the top. From bombers flying overhead to enemy mortar fire exploding both around you and in the distance, to the shouting and screams of everyone around you, this is what really put you in the battle and makes the game a viable experience . Play this game very loud and let the fully utilized Dolby Digital speak for itself.
Score: Sound over-achieves and Next- gen graphics nets 9 out of 10
Innovation:Not just a squad, but an army. You are not an army of one. AI is fantastic and makes the battles both more realistic and more immersive. While not being an achievement in itself, it has reached a level which earns Infinity Ward some kudos.
The 'Kill-cam' in multi-player is not just gimmicky but can actually be both useful and entertaining. Smarter soldiers will use the kill-cam to prevent 'camping' and close-quarters trench-fights can be relived in all it's guttural glory. More importantly, it can be skipped to respawn as usual.
Innovation: Making a good thing better earns 8.5 out of 10
Mojo:Immersion. I can't stress this enough, this is what makes the game one of the first must-owns for the Xbox 360. You're crouched behind some fallen rubble, there's enemy fire streaming overhead, as the battle rages around you. You peek out just long enough to throw a grenade in a German trench, then rush in with your allies to finish off the last of the enemy squadron. There really is nothing quite like it.
Multiplayer is fun, but lacking. Perhaps I'm just spoiled by Halo 2, but I find myself dabbling with online play at best. There are plenty of items to download from Live Marketplace, the majority of which are gamer portraits, but also include trailers and may eventually include new maps for multi-player. There are also a slew of achievements to be unlocked, although most (except for 'finish training') are all completion or multiplayer awards.
Mojo: 8.5 out of 10
Lowdown:Overall Call of Duty 2 is a fantastic effort, and worth the cash to own this one outright. There are plans to release an update to a bug which (in some cases) erases saved data and fix some lag issues, and Activision says "we [Infinity Ward] are aware of the issues at hand," and the hope is that an online lobby update or matchmaking/party forming will be included and or planned for the near future.
Gameplay: 8.5, Graphics/Sound: 9, Innovation: 8.5, Mojo: 8.5. Final: 9.5 / 10
- The #1 WWII shooter development team returns with an amazing new experience: Developed by Infinity Ward, creators of the award-winning Call of Duty . All-new, unprecedented enhancements from stunningly realistic graphics to seamless gameplay, thanks to the revolutionary COD2 engine, groundbreaking AI, and choice-based gameplay innovations. Beautifully rendered snow, rain, fog, and smoke, combined with dynamic lighting and shadows, make this the most intense WWII shooter yet.
- New conflicts and enemies to face: Call of Duty 2 brings you bigger battles, with more tanks, troops, and explosions on-screen, and bigger scope, with a wide range of locales and environments across the European Theater. Fight "The Desert Fox" across the scorching sands of North Africa as wave upon wave of tanks clash in the desert. Use rocket-propelled grappling hooks alongside your Army Ranger squad to storm and scale the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc against a relentless German counterassault, and slog through urban chaos as a tank hunter in war-torn Russia .
- Rely on your squad as never before: The dozens of Allied soldiers surrounding you are fully aware of the changing situations around them, and will let you know using an all-new, context-sensitive battle chatter system. They will draw enemy fire, lay down cover for you, use foxholes and moving tanks for cover, and warn you of incoming enemy troops and hostile fire.
- Choice-based gameplay: Play through missions in the order you see fit. Will you decide to play first as a sniper or as a tank commander? It's your call. Open-ended battlefields allow you to individualize your tactics and choose the order in which you complete your objectives.
- Multiplayer Mayhem: Go online for intense Axis vs. Allies team-based multiplayer action, building on the hugely popular Call of Duty multiplayer modes.