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Call of Duty 3

Score: 95%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Treyarch
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 24 (Online)
Genre: Action/ First Person Shooter/ Online


Graphics & Sound:

Call of Duty 2 was one of the most compelling reasons to jump in and get an Xbox 360 at launch. The game was one of the systemís first top sellers and even managed to trump the much anticipated and highly hyped Perfect Dark Zero. Call of Duty 3 doesnít play all that differently than the second installment, but is that really a bad thing?

Gears of War may be getting all the love for its amazing visuals, but Call of Duty 3 does a damn find job of stacking up. Character models are intricately detailed and feature all sorts of little nuances that make it really stand out among other 360 titles. Atmosphere is still the gameís greatest attribute. Even on the PS2 and Xbox, the series has always had a way of drawing you into the experience. At any time, you could be completely engulfed in the dusty fog of war churned up in the heat of battle or massive billows of black smoke brought on by a sudden explosion. CoD 3 makes full use of the systemís technology while adding that touch of cinematic flair rarely seen in games.

Sound pushed the immersion even further. Your companions have a lot to say and are your lifeline on the battlefield. Theyíll warn you of hidden enemies and make you feel like you arenít alone during missions. Voices arenít limited to on-field commands; youíll also hear plenty of chatter that gives soldiers personality. Listening to their remarks isnít always easy with the sounds of battle ringing all around you.


Gameplay:

Call of Duty 3 takes place in 1944 during the Normandy Breakout. After landing on the beaches of France, the Allies pushed towards Paris in order to liberate it from the Germans. Similar to other games in the series, you take control of a soldier from each of the Allied countries and play through that front of the war. Call of Duty 3 shuffles the usual pacing of missions by intertwining the stories. Rather than unlocking campaigns centered on each country, you may spend one mission playing as an American G.I. and the next as a Polish tank commander.

Each campaign also features a storyline unique to that country. The war still takes center stage, though you also get a little more insight into to lives of your fellow soldiers. One scenario follows a company whose commanding officer has cracked while another features a communications officer who has been branded a coward. Admittedly, the individual plot lines donít add a whole lot to the game, but they are interesting enough that youíll want to see them through to the end.

Missions are varied, but donít stray too far from what you would expect from the series. In one mission, you find yourself on the frontlines, while in another you are planting bombs with the French Resistance. Some missions even have you driving a tank or jeep. Levels are linear with little wiggle room and few opportunities to really explore your surroundings.

Pacing is one of the gameís many successes. Building on scripted events, the game constantly shifts between fast, frantic combat situations to slow, methodical shoot-outs from cover (note: Call of Duty 4 needs a lean function). Youíll also find yourself constantly shifting from offensive pushes to defensive stands. Typically, you progress from one scripted event to another, though sometimes you are given breathing room to accomplish your goal as you see fit.

Multiplayer has been expanded and now supports 24 players per match. Six match types are available over nine maps and include standard match types like Capture the Flag and Deathmatch. Seven troop types are available, each with their own specific battlefield uses. Medics can revive fallen soldiers and support troops can deliver ammo. Vehicles are also available in online matches.


Difficulty:

Call of Duty 3 is a different kind of FPS and requires a different type of approach. You are never fighting alone and will always have at least one A.I. controlled soldier at your side. Your ally is usually competent and offers decent backup, though progress is based on your progression, so you will have to stick your neck out and take the lead if you want to get anywhere.

Enemy A.I. is smart and aggressive. This is one of the few games where you canít simply focus on what is in front of you for too long because youíll miss the guy sneaking up alongside you. If you happen to get caught in one of these situations, the best course of action is to find safe cover and wait for the damage to wear off.


Game Mechanics:

One of the newer mechanics is the ability to throw grenades back. If you are close enough to the grenade, you can pick it up and toss it back before it explodes in your hand, usually killing you on the spot. Picking up a grenade involves a bit of risk since there is no telling how much time is left on the fuse until you pick it up. Enemies can throw your grenades back as well, so it is usually a good idea to ďcookĒ your grenades, allowing them to get closer to detonation before tossing them.

Also new are a series of timed button-press sequences. Instead of just planting a bomb with the touch of a button, you have to press a button, twirl the right analog stick, then push another button to detonate it. This mechanic is used in a variety of ways. Among other uses, youíll have to square off in hand-to-hand combat with an attacking troop or row a boat. Some of the sequences are neat, though others are way too specific and are more of a frustration. Some are really specific, which makes me think that they were intended for the Wii or PS3 version and grafted onto the 360 version.

If you're tired of the WWII thing, Call of Duty 3 obviously isn't the game for you. But, if you are in the market for a solid shooter it is worth a look.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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