Call of Duty 2 Review

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Graphics: 9.0
Sound : 9.5
Gameplay : 9.0
Multiplayer : 8.5
Overall : 9.1
Review by Andy Levine
With the next generation of gaming finally upon us, the developers at Infinity Ward figured it would be a great idea to have Call of Duty 2 launch not only for the PC, but for the Xbox 360 as well. Taking place in Europe, Asia, and even parts of North Africa, Call of Duty 2 is the first WWII shooter to make it to the Xbox 360 and it certainly set the bar high. Due to its impressive visuals, fast paced gameplay, and overall captivating style of gameplay, Call of Duty 2 is a must have title for any 360 owner.

While there’s been a flood of WWII shooters in the past few years, the Call of Duty series has always stood out above the rest, and we can safely say that this hasn’t changed a bit. In the beginning tutorial level, most of the controls are introduced through a few basic objectives. Movement and looking is performed via the dual analog setup, while the left trigger utilizes a gun’s sights and the right trigger will fire. New to the 360 controllers are left and right shoulder buttons, which are used to throw smoke and frag grenades, respectively. As always, A can be used for jumping, B for crouching and crawling, Y for switching weapons, and X for reloading. In normal review, pressing the left analog stick will have the soldier bust out his binoculars and allow him to see much farther than the naked eye. Pressing the left analog while looking down the scope of a rifle will have the soldier hold his breath for a few seconds, controlling his heartbeat and giving him a much steadier shot. Instead of just being able to shoot your way through the entire level, you will need to constantly use all of your available resources if you plan on surviving. Smoke grenades can protect your squad from falling victim to an enemy turret, while holding your breath as a sniper will give you total control over your crosshair. Call of Duty 2’s control setup isn’t overly complex, allowing gamers to focus on what’s really important in the heat of battle.

The single player campaign in Call of Duty 2 is nothing short of enthralling. From the very beginning, a certain bond is developed between the main hero and his comrades because everybody is watching out for one another. Instead of feeling like you can take out all of Nazi Germany on your own with just a Thompson, it will take all of your available resources to survive. Typically, missions will involve your squad either being forced to push through enemy lines or defend a certain location, and in both instances the battles will be epic.

While a majority of the troops will become involved in head-on confrontations, the computer A.I. is smart enough to sneak around back and flank the opposition when possible. Whether you prefer to sit back and pick off baddies one by one or if you love getting right into your enemy’s face, your squad will always be right by your side. As a result, you must act as a leader and take your team deep into the heart of enemy territory because they’d be too afraid otherwise. Even though the entire single-player segment of the game is based on constantly moving on from one point to the next, the intricate level designs and diversity between the nations keeps the campaign feeling fresh all the way through. From the massive cliffs at Pointe du Hoc to the harsh wintry setting at Stalingrad, the environments and available weaponry are constantly changing to rid this game of repetitiveness. In one mission you’ll need to take down endless waves of incoming soldiers with turrets, and moments later you’ll be sneaking behind enemy lines to assassinate a pesky sniper. Utilizing your environment is crucial to survival, so a change in scenery is easily noticed. Best of all, just in case you decide to run in front of a turret or jump on top of a grenade, a checkpoint is saved after every major firefight to help make the more challenging missions a little less frustrating. Despite some of the levels feeling a bit linear at times, Call of Duty 2’s single-player campaign as a whole is definitely worth playing through.

Call of Duty 2 can be played split screen and over Xbox Live, and the shooter experience translates very nicely from the PC to the Xbox 360. The typical game modes are present, including Deathmatch, Search and Destroy, and Capture the Flag. In addition to the Russian, British, and American soldiers you can control in the single-player mode, you can also take role of your favorite Nazi in this Axis vs. Allies brawl. It is a little disappointing because only 8 players can be in a game at a time, but having 16 players could have its fair share of problems as well. 8 player games can be extremely laggy right from the start to the point where the game isn’t playable at all. There isn’t any lobby for you to select a game room; instead you can choose to participate in a ranked or unranked match, then you’ll randomly be placed with other players.

Still, once you manage to get into a steady server with at least 6 people, the game is going to be loads of fun. The maps are big enough to accommodate snipers, yet small enough to allow foot soldiers to do some major damage. The best part about the online play is that there is always more than one path to take to get to the back of your enemy’s base. Because of this, a bothersome sniper may think he has the upper hand once he kills a few oblivious troops, but there’s nothing more satisfying than beating him to death with the butt of your rifle. Overall, playing online or split screen with your friends is loads of fun, especially if you don’t feel like following objectives.

While the gameplay in Call of Duty 2 is commendable by itself, the outstanding presentation value makes the entire experience memorable. The Xbox 360 truly shows off its next generation capabilities, which are all the more enjoyable if you have an HDTV. The character models have lifelike movements and are heavily detailed, although the textures can look a little grainy if you get too close. The particle effects are stunning; the muzzle flash from a gun will light up the screen, while a smoke grenade can safely shadow your squad from hailing turret fire. The environments also look top notch no matter how closely you scrutinize the textures, and there aren’t any rough edges to speak of.

Likewise, an intense war game wouldn’t be complete without a sufficient audio performance. As expected, the chaos on the battlefield won’t only be seen, but it will be heard as well. Comrades will chant together as they rush out in their last hurrah while some will shriek once the first bullet pierces their skin. The blaring machine guns, powerful sniper rifles, and heavy grenade explosions are all accompanied by a dramatic soundtrack that suits the mood nicely. Being on the battlefield in Call of Duty 2 is an enthralling experience that will leave your heart pounding in awe.

In conclusion, Call of Duty 2 is a great title to help usher in the next generation of gaming. The impressive presentation and intuitive gameplay make a surprisingly enjoyable WWII adventure despite this being part of a tired genre. This game clearly set the standards for what a next generation FPS should be like, and it is definitely a must have for any Xbox 360 shooter fanatic.