Let?s get right to it. I love this game. I?ve tried other World War II FPS and they?ve been okay, but now that I?ve experienced Call of Duty 2 I?m hooked. Developer Infinity Ward has nailed it. And to me what really puts this title in a different league is the atmosphere and presentation of this WWII simulator. Games like EA?s Medal of Honor series can?t touch CoD 2 because for me the most exciting levels in MoH were the first few, and then the game would die down into lukewarm mode. Not so in CoD, here your blood will be pumping from start to finish. And you?ll love every second of it.
What sort of bad things do I have to say about the gameplay? Nothing really, except that there is just the slightest bit of slowdown in single player and some moderate slowdown in online matches. But other than that, it?s perfect. The aiming and control are spot-on. This isn?t Halo or Perfect Dark Zero in that you can just run around shooting things. I?m not tearing down those games, because I love them, but this game goes for the more realistic angle and it works really well in doing so. It?s a lot harder to shoot someone when you?re running than when you?re still. You fast paced gamers out there might not like that the gameplay is slower than in other FPS titles, but try not to think of it as slower, think of it as more intense.
Picture it, you are of the Russian, British, or American persuasion and you?re tasked with the overwhelming job of taking down a tank. You can?t even think about getting in close to the treading beast because of all the enemy soldiers around you. So you run from vantage point to vantage point, killing every German Nazi along your way knowing you have to take your time and aim first. You?ll have about a split second to kill your opposition before they open fire on you, which leads to very tense aiming moments. You?ll want to hit the Nazis with fatal aiming, and not just shots that will alert them to your presence. So it?s always a battle over whether you aim quick or aim precise. After you have dispatched a good number of the enemy, you?ll have more space to take down the tank. But not so fast. The soldiers in the tank have noticed you and are now firing rockets into the wall you?re using for cover. Or rather the wall you were using for cover, since your once safe point is now being blown apart by said rockets. You peek around what?s left of the corner only to see the tank starring right back at you sending a hail of bullets your way just to say hi. You?ve tried everything, grenades, sniper shots, letting your squad mates take a try, attacking in groups, mounted weapons, nothing works. Then it dawns on you. How about a smoke grenade? You toss the grenade and a prayer in hopes that it works. It does. They can?t see you! You run towards the tank, plant a bomb and hightail it out of there to safety. As the tank tries to get away you can here the ticking of the bomb until it explodes, taking all of the Germans to hell. Now I ask you, doesn?t that sound more intense than just running from room to room clearing out a club or the flood? I?d say so.
There is also great variety in the missions. Tasks range from repairing phone wires in Nazi encampments, taking out multiple tanks at once, scaling mountains, and blowing up buildings, just to name a few. Each of these has to be tackled with different strategies, but most must be handled with a degree of patience. You always have squad mates in the game to assist you, which is nice. It makes you feel like you?re in something that?s so much more than just you. There is a real sense that you and your fellow soldiers are just but one of the many cogs that makes the whole Allied force run.
The gameplay is just topnotch all the way around. Loading screens are very quick. Some of the missions are given with a History Channel sort of feel, somewhat similar to Tom Clancy?s Ghost Recon 2, but in a more serious manner. Enemies recognize and flee from grenades. The hit detection is perfect. The mission objectives can always be seen, so it?s nearly impossible to get lost or forget what you?re supposed to be doing. The control scheme is excellently handled. Every button assignment feels like it?s in the right place. This is largely due to the superior design of the new 360 controller. With the subtraction of the black and white buttons, and the addition of the two new shoulder buttons, the controls flow more smoothly.
As far as visuals go, besides EA?s NBA Live 06 and Project Gotham Racing 3 from Bizarre Creations, I would have to say Call of Duty 2 is the best looking Xbox 360 game out right now. This is a great showcase for the 360. The game is just beautiful to look at. Everything looks so gorgeous it almost feels like a crime to always be blowing things up. From individual bricks, to character models, to weapons, to vehicles, to dilapidated buildings, it all looks amazing.
Snowfall looks very nice as well. It?s a peaceful part of nature amidst the hectic reality of warfare. Dirt and smoke effects are stunning too. It?s so cool to see dirt get kicked up from stray bullets or to see huge amounts of dirt (and often times people) flying everywhere from grenades and rockets. Smoke looks extremely thick and definitely affects your vision. A few times my vision was affected so much that I actually ran up to the Nazis thinking they were friends. And another great aspect is that the smoke affects the enemies just as much as it does you, so it always seems fair. Since you have no health HUD you will have to rely on visuals to figure out when you are about to die. When you are mortally wounded you will see a red haze-like effect around the edges of the screen. It?s a nifty way to alert you to your health while not taking you out of the game by constantly looking at some bar.
One of the few minuses as far as graphics go is that I think the fire effects could have been done better, although that can be said for mostly all videogames. It just doesn?t look organic enough. Another small problem is that a lot of the enemies in the beginning stages are wearing goggles. Having them all bear the same eye wear makes the Nazi soldiers feel more like cookie cutouts rather than individuals. Maybe a few more types of enemies would have helped solve this minor gripe.
The sound in Call of Duty 2 is unparalleled. Explosions are grand and teeth shattering. Weapons sound very authentic. You can really hear the difference in each gun. Bolt actions are far different than that of machine guns. Sniper rifles and mounted weapons sound extremely devastating in their own way. The music fits the game perfectly as well. CoD 2 features an astounding and moving orchestral score that pulls you into the game even more. It?s remarkable how the right music can make a game so much more taut.
Another great addition to the atmosphere is all the yelling going on in the game. Constantly, your enemies and your allies will be yelling instructions and insults at you. Allies will call out for your help or bark out commands. They can even talk smack to the Nazis (another great little touch). The allies also yell out enemy positions with startling detail. With all the nonstop gunfire, explosions, and yelling going on, Call of Duty 2 is one of the most action packed projects in the history of videogames.
Multiplayer adds a lot of replay value to this already classic title. Split screen and system link are all well and good, but the real meat and potatoes of multiplayer is online. Xbox Live is a truly dazzling spectacle. It?s so easy to find the kind of match you want, you?ll wonder why Sony can?t do online gaming this way. The level design for multiplayer modes is superb. There are open places, narrow ways, and spots perfect for sniping. There are a good amount of modes to boot. Standards like deathmatch, team deathmatch, and capture the flag make appearances. CoD 2 specific modes are also excellent like ?headquarters?-where two teams race to set up a radio and defend it for points. If the enemy team sets up a radio, you must destroy it. Another mode is ?search and destroy?- where the Allies try to destroy Axis held objectives by planting explosives. Axis must defuse the explosives if they are planted. The difficulty is high though, seeing as each player only gets one life in this mode of play.
Call of Duty 2 is a perfect game for FPS fans that are lucky enough to own a Xbox 360. Even if you are tired of WWII games, give this one a try. You may just find your love for this mostly exhausted sub-genre renewed. For those doubters of the power of the 360, consider those doubts squashed. This is only a launch title and it looks and plays perfectly. Call of Duty 2 is a true gamer?s dream. This is a title where every aspect of gaming comes together seamlessly to make an instant classic and quite possibly the best Xbox 360 game on the market right now.