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Call of Duty 2

Score: 89%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Infinity Ward
Media: CD/5
Players: 1 - 32
Genre: First Person Shooter

Graphics & Sound:

Call of Duty 2 is the most amazing looking WWII game to date, and that is saying something. I am not referring to just how clean the graphics look either. Call of Duty 2 blends style and substance to create a very immersive FPS experience. At one point you may be admiring the huge, finely detailed landscape, only to have your world thrown into chaos. The scene can go from crystal clear to a blurred mess in a second as you are shot, clubbed, blown up, or have dust kicked into your face.

The character models in the game are kind of a two-sided coin. On the one hand, there are a handful that look unique and seem to have some depth to them. These few soldiers provide an immersive factor, making you feel like youíre really fighting alongside your fellow man. The rest of the soldiers, however, look like clones of each other, and though they all have different names, it sometimes is enough to ruin the illusion.

Without sound, the looks would have no meaning. Thankfully, lots of dialogue has been recorded (and good dialogue to boot), and the gunfire and explosions are enough to convince this young lad that this is as close to war as he ever wants to get. Some of the dialogue suffers from the same lack of diversity that the graphics do, as you will tend to hear your squad mates shouting the same line four or five times before you move on from one location, but besides that, the audio is spot on.


Gameplay:

The Call of Duty games are about as generic as you can get when it comes it the FPS genre. Little has been done in the way of innovation here. What Call of Duty 2 does offer is a solid gaming experience with little to no hindrances in terms of control or accessibility.

Like its predecessor, Call of Duty 2 provides three different single player campaigns that must be played sequentially. The main allied forces are all accounted for: Russia, U.S., and Great Britain. Each campaign is strung together through a series of missions that take you through some of the major conflicts of WWII, including Northern Africa, Stalingrad, and of course, Normandy.

In each of the levels, you will be accompanied by many other soldiers who will help you in the efforts to rid Europe of the Nazi scum. However, unlike other squad-based games, you never give a single command to your allies. They instead work strictly off of their own AI, making their own decisions. For the most part it works great, not only to strengthen the gameplay, but to make you feel like youíre actually playing with other people who have their own minds. Left to their own devices, these guys will usually take care of themselves. There are only slight problems with some of the AI, like when they try to get cover from a grenade by crouching right on top of it. These instances are minor and donít have that great of an effect on gameplay.

Also unique to Call of Duty 2 is the lack of any life meter. Instead of having to constantly be on the lookout for health packs or medics, you rely on a general "feel" for how many times you have been hit in a certain space of the game. One minor shot wonít kill, nor will a hundred minor shots spread out over an hour. But if you get hit five or six times in a few seconds, you will most certainly perish. You would be amazed at how good it feels to be rid of the tedious act of frantically searching for health packs, and instead left to worry about the immediate situation.

As I stated earlier, Call of Duty 2 is simply a generic FPS. But what it tries to do, it does right. The levels are completely linear, meaning that you have a single objective that must be carried out before you go on to the next. What matters is the journey there. Most of the missions take place in and around buildings, farmhouses, and city streets. They have been deliberately designed to allow you multiple paths to your objective. These paths are not ones that alter endings or get main characters killed; they instead let you decide if you want to try to dodge bullets running through a field, or if you want to take your chances in close quarters through a series of buildings.

The Multiplayer aspect of Call of Duty 2 may not be as deep as what other FPS games have to offer, but like the single player experience here, what is offered is definitely solid. The basic Multiplayer modes are offered, including Deathmatch and CTF, but the structure is such that most games end up swapping spawn points, and there is little room for teamwork unless youíre in a clan. The experience can be enjoyable, but itís definitely not something to purchase the game for.


Difficulty:

Call of Duty 2 has plenty of difficulty settings to choose between, but the purpose of the game was not meant to stump people. The game offers plenty of situations to tax your FPS skills, and it is easy to find a setting that makes the experience a challenging one. There are very few times when the game becomes almost impossibly redundant, which is more often than not brought about by the lack of a quick save feature, but these instances can be easily forgiven considering how well the rest of the game plays.

Game Mechanics:

The way the weapons are handled in Call of Duty 2 is another testament to the simplicity of it all. You are limited to holding only two different weapons, and you can hold up to 4 grenades at a time. Because ammo is limited, you can pick up other guns as you find them, and you may have to switch between many different types before a mission is over. The only problem is that most of the weapons (if not all) are exactly the same as the last game, and have been used repeatedly in other games. Also, the variety of weapons is slightly lacking, and you will probably end up finding yourself using the same couple of weapons time and time again.

The only new element in Call of Duty 2 is the Smoke Grenade. This handy little gadget works wonders when youíre up against tanks and machine gun emplacements. Not only does it obscure your foesí line of sight, but it makes for a very dramatic charge through a chaotic cloud of gray smoke as you dodge bullets and occasionally come face to face with one of the jerries.

The biggest complaint to be made about Call of Duty 2 is the checkpoint system it has adopted, instead of sticking with the original quick save method. While the "creep-and-save" method may be looked down upon by some, the alternative provides a much more tedious experience. Having to wade through the same horde of enemies a dozen or so times just because you have trouble with one small part of the level does not leave you with the best feeling in the world.

Playing Call of Duty 2 is almost like watching a WWII film, except you get to do stuff in it. And as much as I hate completely linear games that almost resemble movies, this one is still fun to play. Itís only faults are that it hasnít gone very far beyond where the first one left off. Those who toiled through the first game may find the sequel to be a bit redundant. However, Nazi killing will never get old, and as long as it is delivered in this style, people are sure to keep on playing it.


-Snow Chainz, GameVortex Communications
AKA Andrew Horwitz

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows 2K/XP, 1.4 GHz Processor, 256 MB RAM, 64 MB Video Card, 4000 MB Hard Disk Space
 

Test System:



Windows XP, 2.4 GHz Processor, 1GB RAM, 256 MB GeForce 6800 GT Video Card, 160 GB Hard Drive, Cable Modem Internet Connection

Sony PlayStation 2 Castlevania: Curse of Darkness Sony PlayStation 2 Shrek Super Slam

 
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