Call of Duty 3
Call of Duty had made its reputation already on PC thanks to innovative gameplay, beautiful graphics and an unseen level of intensity. The successor, CoD2, was a launch game on Xbox360 and made an even bigger impact on that platform. The third episode, not counting the side-projects, is only released on consoles, something PC-lovers couldn’t really appreciate.
What might calm them down for now is the knowledge that developer Infinity Ward is currently working on a new, yet unannounced, project and that Call of Duty 3 was made by Treyarch that also previously made Call of Duty 2: Big Red One. Seeing the lesser quality of that last title, I was a bit sceptical towards their latest game.
From the first minutes on it’s clear that little was changed compared to its predecessor, something that can be a blessing as well as a (small) disappointment. You take on the role of a series of soldiers that this time are part of American, British, Polish and Canadian forces. Together these managed to get Paris liberated in 1944 after the landing in Normandy.
More than before, the makers try to pull us into the story, something that only partially succeeds because you change character more often than you would like to. Nice an sich, but they would better concentrate on one particular soldier instead of constantly changing although it does give a nice view on how the different armies each played their part in the success. During the 14 missions you get quite a lot of cut-scenes, one more cliché than the other. Especially when these are trying to do more than just introduce the next action scene your toes will start to curl.
This is what it’s all about: to get that immensely intense and immersive action that sucks you into your television thanks to the impressive sound effects and music, and the not less successful graphics. More than ever before you’ll be bombarded by ear-deafening explosions, whistling rains of bullets, yelling Germans, rattling tanks and fighter planes flying over. Little innovations like the sequences where an opponent suddenly grabs you and you need to push some buttons to survive the wrestling scene or to plant a bomb, don’t really add much on gameplay but do give a nice contrast to the larger things that happen all around you.
Better, and unfortunately also annoyingly familiar, are the parts where the traditional walking is changed with spotting targets for artillery, sniping, playing tank commander or controlling a Jeep while driving through small French roads filled with hostiles. A strong point of the series and one that does all but disappoint this time.
What we aren’t familiar with, though, are the smaller bugs and frustrations that used to be absent in the previous episode. Often you’ll have to wait for a scripted event to take place, something that completely drags you out of the atmosphere. Also you get stuck between a rock or some colleagues that block a doorway too often. The AI wasn’t progressed either and the crippled animations now really start to work on your nerves.
We’re really splitting hairs now, but seeing the illustrious predecessor and the steps the genre has made lately we can be a bit more critical than normal. Luckily there are also a bunch of positive things in CoD3 next to the fun achievements. The surroundings look more than beautiful and especially the exteriors with grass waving in the wind, colorful farsights and atmospheric lighting effects make you want to look around. Add some typical smoke effects and explosions and you’ll happily forget the dated models.
Certainly not dated are the sound effects and the soundtrack that still are part of the best we’ve been able to experience on the 360 up to now, in glorious 5.1 of course, added with voicing that has more problems with a failing script than a lacking of performance.
For those that aren’t convinced yet, we can easily recommend the multiplayer options. The success of CoD2 was surprisingly big a year ago, but this sequel puts the bar a little higher. You can play with up to 24 people and can this time also choose between different classes and vehicles. Also the amount of modes was increased with next to the typical classics some sort of Battlefield-like “The War”-mode and a mode where you need to defend your base.
Call of Duty 3 isn’t finished as detailed as its predecessor and brings, next to a strongly improved multiplayer, little new compared to number 2. What you do get tons of is very intense, varied and exciting action which will keep you busy for quite a few hours. A recommendation for the fans but we expect a bigger leap forward from Infinity Ward when we put the next Call of Duty in our console or PC. This sequel offers more of the same and in the end that’s only just enough to convince us. For one last time that is!