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Chris Sell
20 Mar, 2006

Call of Duty 2 Review

360 Review | Time to answer your Call of Duty.
The original Call of Duty on the PC went on to win many awards back in 2003. Created by a team of developers who were behind EA’s Medal of Honor Allied Assault, Infinity Ward took their knack for making WWII first-person shooters to the next level. So much so that the Medal of Honor games have been lagging far behind ever since. Although there was an add-on pack on the PC and a couple of current gen games, Call of Duty 2 is the real sequel to the award-winning game, and looks to set the bar for WWII shooters higher than ever before.

If you’re familiar with the original game on the PC you’ll know much of what to expect as Call of Duty 2 remains largely unchanged in regards to its basic gameplay. You play the role of three separate soldiers (a Russian, an American and a Brit) in three different parts of the world. The game starts in Russia in the snowladen streets of Moscow, but soon moves onto Africa before finishing off on the French beaches of Normandy. The central goal of the game is identical to practically every other war-time FPS ever made; kill the Germans, something the original Call of Duty game did better than anything else. This one is no different. Although originally a PC game, Call of Duty 2 feels perfect on the Xbox 360 joypad. Aiming is super smooth and the weapons are a joy to use as a result.

FPSs live and die by their weaponry, so it’s good to see Call of Duty 2 has an array of weapons to suit various situations. Light machine guns such as the Thompson or the MP40 are quick and allow you to move fast while holding them. Heavier guns like the MP44 or the BAR slow you down, but pack a harder punch, especially at distance when compared to their lighter cousins. There’s also a selection of rifles on offer too, for those who favour looking down the barrel of a gun and taking a single headshot approach, as well as sniper rifles and rocket launchers that are warmly satisfying to use. There’s always been a degree of realism in the Call of Duty franchise, but not to the extent that moving while shooting becomes woefully inaccurate. It’s still a far better idea to stand your ground to take shots as your accuracy is far better but adopting a ‘run and gun’ style can reap rewards also, making the game much more fast-paced and action-packed than most FPSs could ever dream of being.

Watch your backs!

Watch your backs!
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While the basics of the game remain the same, there are a few new gameplay nuances. For starters, you no longer have a health bar. Instead, taking repeated shots will result in the screen blurring and the edges of the screen glowing a sinister red colour. Your soldier will begin to breathe heavily too – all a sign indicating that you need to get yourself in cover to prevent death. It’s something that we all know worked exceptionally well in Halo, but many were sceptical that it would work as successfully in Call of Duty. Yet it does; infact, it’s probably the best thing they could have done to the game. Because you don’t have to rely on a limited amount of health packs to heal yourself, you now have the freedom to make errors. This, in turn, gives the player more willingness to experiment and approach things differently and try various tactics.

The checkpoint system has been slightly modified too. Previously, you had a compass in the corner of the screen with a star marking your next destination or objective. In Call of Duty 2, this system is retained, but now offers some choice in proceedings. At specific parts of certain levels you’re given multiple objective stars on your compass at once. In what order you tackle these is up to you. Take one of the earlier missions for example in Russia. After taking out a tank with an explosive charge, the game gives you three possible destinations to go to next. To the West is a large building that needs capturing, the East hides a mounted .50cal machine gun, while heading North will lead you to trenches filled deep with enemy forces.

Another new addition is the inclusion of smoke grenades. As you would expect, with a tap of the L button these fill any surrounding area in a thick cloud, thus rendering the enemy blind to what lies behind it. Ideal for crossing sniper-filled pastures, traversing busy streets or storming a Nazi-infested building. Again, it’s all about experimentation. With the original Call of Duty only really being criticised for its strict linearity, the new health system, the multiple objective marker and the use of smoke grenades allow the player choices they never had before. The game is heavily scripted, with set events and explosions happening at certain points through each level, but this is a game that progresses in such a way that it rarely feels scripted in the same way that the original did at times. You’re still very much on a straight path, but these few things give a greater illusion of freedom, which not only involves the player more than before, but also improves the replayability of the game.

Being a war-based game, Call of Duty 2 doesn’t have any end of level boss fights but instead the missions climax through dramatic set pieces. Whether it be defending a building from a wave of enemies, calling air strikes on incoming tanks or hiding in a tower sniping mortar teams, Infinity Ward really know how to up the intensity and move the game into another gear when needed. There are a couple of tank-based missions thrown in that aren’t exactly as thrilling as the rest of the game, but they’re better than the similar stages found in the original.

The Germans patiently awaited Batman's arrival.

The Germans patiently awaited Batman's arrival.
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Above all else though, it’s arguably the sound that plays the biggest part in making Call of Duty 2 as immersive and as involving as it is. Never before has a game sounded this good. Every screaming bullet, every speaker-shaking explosion and every agonizing yell; crystal clear in perfect 5.1 surround sound. Your team mates could do with a bit more variety in their soundbytes, mind - you can only hear the phrase ‘get the fascists’ so many times before it become irritating. While visually superb in terms of character models and environmental design, it’s the little things that make Call of Duty 2 so easy on the eyes. Being locked at 60fps certainly helps and the sheer amount of enemies on screen at once in certain areas of the game rarely fails to impress. The animation throughout is magnificently done and really adds to the immersive feel of the game - it’s impossible not to love how wounded enemies attempt to crawl away to a safe position or when you see the odd soldier laying down simply choosing to fire their weapon like Tom Hanks near the end of Saving Private Ryan. Other touches like the smoke effects and the dust particles really bring the on screen firefights to life.

Unfortunately, while the single player campaign is as good as it is on the PC, the multiplayer aspect of the game has taken a big hit. Firstly, the current setup is a mess. Want to choose your map? Want to play with your friends? Want to play with more than eight players? Hard luck, because all Call of Duty 2 contains is a Halo 2 style matchmaking search system, but simplified so much that the whole party system doesn’t even exist. So if you want to play online all you can choose is the gametype as who you play with and what map you play on is decided by the matchmaking system. A patch is supposed to be on the way that will increase the final score if it ever surfaces, but as it is Call of Duty 2 has untapped potential and suffers somewhat as a result.

But let’s avoid finishing on a downer, because as far as FPSs go, this does so much right from top to bottom. For what is a PC game at heart, it controls superbly on the X360 joypad. The weapons are satisfying to use, the enemy AI is challenging while the core combat that makes up the meat of the game rarely becomes uninteresting due to the clever level design throughout. The difficulty levels are well judged with an appropriate setting for players of all abilities, and at the same time the brilliantly judged checkpoints mean you seldom have to replay long sections should you die. Technically it’s a good showpiece launch game for the 360, thanks to some excellent use of 5.1 sound combined with a solid 60fps framerate and a clever use of particle effects that litter the screen with every smoke grenade that's thrown. If you’re looking for a good single player game for your newly acquired Xbox 360 then you can’t do much better than Call of Duty 2. For multiplayer fans, it may be wise to hold on a little while to see if a patch materialises.
The Score
A launch game all 360 owners should consider. An unforgettable single player experience that gets better the further you go. You can make this a 9 if the online multiplayer is fixed.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Call of Duty 2 Content

New Call of Duty 2 maps released
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22 Mar, 2006 Who says the wait wasn't worth it?
Call of Duty 2 delayed until March 2nd
03 Feb, 2006 Still another month until the first Australian 360 game hits shelves.
7 Comments
8 years ago
Nice review.

I would of considered this if the console had actually launched way back on March the 2nd. Now, I have GRAW and Burnout to keep me warm at night...
8 years ago
Good review, although I disagree on the overall score. It's frantic, and that's what makes it fun, but I just saw it as insanely repetetive, and it relied too much on triggers for the 'wow' factor. The final levels are also rather boring IMO, but I can't make a final judgement on that totally, as I am yet to play the final US levels. The sound is also meh on my scale, but I'm judging that from a PC version, so it may be different because of speakers, etc.

I totally agree with the particles though, they're simply amazing.
8 years ago
i love COD1, but was a little underwhelmed with COD2. if anything, it's because of the lack of health. get low? crouch down for a few minutes and recover.

made it a little easy imo.

i'm also talking from the PC POV, although i quite like the sound. maybe it's the 5.1 speakers though.
8 years ago
Great review. Might have to pick this one up when it gets to people's choice status. Or if, rather.
8 years ago
I'd pick this up again on the 360, but only because my PC chokes A LOT in the last levels. Mmm, 60fps...
8 years ago
Frozencry wrote
Good review, although I disagree on the overall score. It's frantic, and that's what makes it fun, but I just saw it as insanely repetetive, and it relied too much on triggers for the 'wow' factor. The final levels are also rather boring IMO, but I can't make a final judgement on that totally, as I am yet to play the final US levels. The sound is also meh on my scale, but I'm judging that from a PC version, so it may be different because of speakers, etc.

I totally agree with the particles though, they're simply amazing.
The US levels are the best, and yes you'll need a half decent 5.1 system to appreciate the sound fully icon_smile.gif



ObsoletE wrote
i love COD1, but was a little underwhelmed with COD2. if anything, it's because of the lack of health. get low? crouch down for a few minutes and recover.

made it a little easy imo.
Veteran is how the game is meant to be played icon_loved.gif
8 years ago
I picked up a copy of CoD2 on pc yesterday for $43 from dicksmith icon_biggrin.gif
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now
Publisher:
  Activision
Developer:
  Infinity Ward

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