Call of Duty
When I hear a lot of good news is spreading around about a first person shooter (my favorite genre), I try to see as little as possible of it before the reviewcopy arrives in the mail. I don’t play any demo’s or test versions and don’t watch any movies that have been released in advance, just to make sure I can experience the game to its fullest as everything is new to me. This is what I did with Call of Duty, a highly anticipated game of which nothing but good news was heard.
Let’s see how it lives up to expectations.
Call of Duty starts off with you being an allied soldier who is part of an airborn team that has to prepare for the beach landing in Normandy. You’ll have to take and defend bridges, sabotage German transports and material and capture Axis documents to make sure D-Day will happen as planned. After D-Day (which you don’t get to play), you’ll get different missions like liberating Allied forces from the Germans.
Halfway the game, you’ll switch from American to Soviet forces and will find yourself in Stalingrad where the German troops have been halted in their invasion of Mother Russia. You will have to take back Stalingrad and push the Axis forces back to their home country after which you will invade Germany and take over the Reichstag.
A couple of years ago I was extremely impressed with Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, Electronic Arts and 2015’s view on World War 2. The way the beach landing in Normandy was created was phenomenal and gave a good impression of how war must be. It was overwhelming in one sense and insane in another.
Infinity Ward does not give us D-Day itself, but there’s more than enough other battles that you have to play and they definitely aren’t less impressive. There’s the landing in Axis territory, the Ardennes offensive and the taking of the Reichstag, but especially the arrival in Stalingrad is magnificently re-created. Soviet troops having to run into the city without even arms, being used as cannon fodder to draw fire… mighty impressive.
Another fact that adds to the overall atmosphere next to the battles themselves is that most of the time there will be lots of stuff going on next to your mission. You’ll see bombers flying over, air defense guns shooting at planes, etc etc all the time while you’re running around, trying to accomplish your mission. All this makes the game feel very realistic and I just can’t explain how well the created atmosphere takes you by the throat to drag you through the game. It’s been a long time since I actually was urged to finish a game and rush through it but Call of Duty managed to bring that feeling back to me.
As I already showed you with examples, the atmosphere is really great but there’s more to gameplay than just that. You also need decent artificial intelligence and here, Call of Duty also manages to hold its head up. Opponents will duck and run away when you start shooting them, they will notice it when you kill the man next to them and they’ll try to snipe up on you when they can. However, things aren’t perfect.
Your allies will sometimes run in front of your line of fire, and the strangest thing I encountered was when I was on a mission and had to clear a building: one of my fellow soldiers ran in and as I followed him, I found myself eye to eye with a german soldier. What the hell happened ? Didn’t the allied soldier find it necessary to shoot when he bumped into the German ? And didn’t the German find it a bit disturbing that an American soldier was running through the house and found only me to be a treath and worth shooting at ?
Luckily, situations like these are scarse and don’t happen often enough to make it irritating.
The graphics are really good and up to current standards. With all the action going on at the same time, it is also noteable that I found absolutely no glitches what so ever which means the engine is really put to good use and my athlon 1.4Ghz with GeForce Ti4600 – these days hardly high-end – ran everything fluently with all details on at 1024*768.
The biggest pleasant surprise however, was the sound. Everything is as it should be and adds very much to the realism of the game. Each weapon has its own sound, footsteps sound real and differ depending on the surface you’re walking on, voices are clear and have different intonations, and when you’re in the middle of a bombing, all you can think of is getting the hell outta there. Really great !
One of the coolest effects that have been put into Call of Duty is the bullet-time like effect you get when an explosion has occurred near you. Everything will slow down, colors will turn pale, and it will really be like you’ve just had a bomb explode right next to you and you’re having trouble knowing where you are. An amazing effect that Infinity Ward has created to make thing even more realistic than they already were and it works like a charm ! You’ll really feel like being in the middle of a war and get that claustrophobic feeling where the only thing you can think of is getting cover and as far away as possible.
Once you’ve finished the single player campaign, you can start up a multiplayer game but not from inside the SP game. You have to start up Call of Duty through a different link and once having launched it, you’ll need to set up your config again. Personally I find this to be rather awckward as normally you would expect a game to keep the same config in multiplayer as in single player (although you’ve got extra communication buttons available in multi).
Multiplayer offers the usual bunch of deathmatch and team-based gameplay modes. I’ve been checking out multiplay for the last couple of days and must say that I haven’t had so much fun playing a game online since Quake 3 although BF1942 (which I recently started playing) also has a lot to offer.
The maps are nicely balanced and you’ll start off with a weapon of your choice (depending on which team you join, axis or allies – you can also choose to get auto-assigned which makes the balances in teams a bit more fair) after which you can change that weapon with whatever you can find in the map from soldiers that have been killed. Also some maps contain extra weapons like a panzer schreck or machine guns that are located at fixed places. The only thing that you don’t have which adds a lot of fun to BF1942 is the possibility to use vehicles, but the maps are small enough so that you don’t really miss this feature.
Kick&Rush is possible, but a more tactical approach to multiplayer is advisable. Most of the time you’ll find yourself on “Search & Destroy” servers and there a team can win by either killing the other team completely, or getting an objective completed like for instance blowing up a tank or stealing documents and returning back to your base. Personally, I found this gameplay type by far the most enjoyable and it keeps me coming back for more online playing.
Infinity Ward has taken the best elements from the best WW2 first person shooters, added a couple of extra ingredients and upgraded the whole thing to a new standard. Medal of Honor and BF1942 can go home. Call of Duty has arrived ! Look no further, there’s no better WW2 shooter than this one.