War inspired games have featured heavily on games consoles especially those featuring World War 2. Many of these games are based around first person shooting and with the subject matter being WWII, it seems to be as good an excuse as any for players to wield weapons and start shooting. Well, Call of Duty 2 has arrived and whilst being the same game as the PC version is not the same as the Xbox “Big Red One” version. Call of Duty 2 on the Xbox 360 is a World War 2 first person shooter that puts the player into the shoes of 5 different heroes from USSR, USA, UK as they battle through different campaigns. If there was a hell on earth then Call of Duty 2 thrusts you deep into the heart of it.
Starting the Russian story, players are immediately thrust into a training mission which starts off as you would expect but then throws you into the thick of it whilst teaching you the mechanics of the game in the process. Imagine a rollercoaster and the steep climb it has to make before reaching the top and speeding off; well that’s the training level which is the steep ascent into the incredible journey that lies before you. Once the easy training has been completed, players can begin the game proper and find themselves once more in the firing line. It is at this point that the game splits into 3 groups in terms of the game’s difficulty depending on what you choose. Playing on the easy setting will mean that players can pretty much mop up with little regard for ones health. The regular setting is challenging and probably will be the most enjoyable for the majority of players. Using cover wisely and not rushing in blindly is perhaps key to playing as death can come swiftly. Lastly we have hardened or veteran difficulty which puts the game into a more realistic shooter. Veteran requires slow paced combat and planning of moves in conjunction with using all the tools around you. Veteran is almost like a different game compared to playing on the lowest difficulty and ultimately is lot more rewarding.
The first thing you will notice is the level of atmosphere the game has and this begins with plenty of audio phrases from your fellow men as well as the opposing Germans shouting orders at each other. The war torn environments are presented very well and with the nature of grenades, bullets going off all around you as well means that there is never a dull moment as you follow a pretty linear pathway from objective A to objective B. There is a major emphasis on being part of a team rather than a one man army and this game play mechanic works well as it immerses the player further into the game. Each team mate is named and although you have no direct control over the AI you will see a familiar name pop up from time to time where you will almost wonder how that troop made it through the carnage (even though some key troops appear to be bullet proof).
The actual combat is pretty standard fare and means that you point, you shoot and you kill, easy! There is some neat hit detection on display and with German troops which act reasonably intelligent means that it remains satisfying throughout to kill and complete your objectives. The weapons on offer are authentic which means that you’ll probably find a favourite and stick with that especially as you can only carry two weapons at a time. I think most people will opt to carry a long range rifle and a close range machine gun for the majority of the time. There are some moments when you will be using .50 cal mounted guns or even taking control of a tank across the desert in another mission and these moments break up the traditional first person moments.
The graphics in CoD2 are very nice indeed but not in the sense that will make you say wow! What impresses me more is the fact that there are lots of things going on around you such as the huge number of troops, explosions, highly impressive smoke effects and yet there is no slowdown what so ever. In motion the game is quite detailed and although textures look blurred when close up the overall levels of lighting and detail is pretty good. The character models look great and feature a number of details that bring them to life a little more and then there are some excellent death animations as well for those that fall along the wayside or simply take one from your machine gun.
Call of Duty 2 excels when it comes to audio and really puts the player into the heart of the experience with sound that simply compliments the on screen action all the way. If you could imagine what real war is like then Call of Duty 2 seems to capture that essence with its audio. You will hear the cries of your enemies and the shouting from your team mates who often give out handy pointers as to where enemies are located. Combine the shouting with the constant sounds of weapons being fired, grenades going off and the odd aircraft flying over head and you get an idea of what your ears should expect.
Call of Duty isn’t the longest of games but is a game that deserves to be played more than once especially if you up the difficulty for a more realistic experience. I think the developers in catering for the wide group of players that will buy the game have somewhat shot themselves in the foot when it comes to game length. The game features a checkpoint system which even on the hardest difficulty seems to appear quite often. Ok I can see that this system takes the frustration out of having to restart missions from the beginning but in the same token makes completing the game a lot easier and quicker. Call of Duty 2 has an online/system link component to it as well which allows for 8 player verses games across various game types. Sadly there is no 2 player online co-op mode. With all that is available on the disk and the grand scale of taking in the feeling of war then Call of Duty 2 definitely provides an experience that wont be forgotten for a long time and one that you will most likely return to months after moving on to pastures new.
Call of Duty 2 is a breath of fresh air for first person shooters and whilst it does not re-invent the wheel it does offer a full on experience that never falters from start to finish. Players can get the full on war experience right on their Xbox 360 and in the comfort of their own home with a game that teaches you a little history as well as testing your combative skills. I thoroughly enjoyed playing the game and I must admit I started playing on Veteran difficulty after a while as I found this mode to be more real. I cannot stress enough that the single player is an experience that shouldn’t be missed by fans of the genre. Although the game could probably be completed in a rental period on easier settings I have no doubts that this game is one title that many players will want to replay over and over. A great game and a great launch game as well.