One of the launch title games being released on the Xbox 360 is Call of Duty 2. For all the people who played the other Call of Duty games, this is a nice improvement. It keeps the war-time feeling true, but makes good advances to make you buy this one, being the sequel. The visualizations brought to the extreme by the Xbox 360’s mind blowing graphics engine create such a field of play, like nothing ever experienced before. The cinematics can be compared to the top of the line Xbox games ever, and this is only the first of many to be launched on the Xbox 360, so we can expect games to also be better than what we have here. The online play is good - when you can get into a good game (we'll cover this more in a separate article).
Firstly, the controls the 360 allows you to use all the moves you remember from the previous Call of Duty with a little enhancement. Your character has a wider, more realistic, and better looking set of weapons, of course also with some added specialties. The most important thing you have to remember is the health bar.
In Call of Duty 2, the health bar has disappeared, and replaced by an odd yet inovative visual health screen. Once you get shot, depending on the difficulty, the outer edge of your screen will turn blood red, and as you take more damage, the blood size will get closer and closer to covering your whole screen, but there are no "health packs" or anything of the like anywhere in the game. Instead you use the best medicine! Just cover for a short amount of time, and the screen will decline itself until its back to normal. This is similar to Halo 2 and your character's shields - they regenerate after a few seconds. The only difference is you have no idea how far down your shields are - if your screen turns red, get down and hide until it goes away - then you can return to battle.
Secondly, the thing you want to consider is the level of realism the developers applied to this kind of war game. I can assure you that this is that kind of game that would lead you to think that you were really in combat situations; the Russian winter will freeze your blood, you will burn in the desert nights, and the beaches of Normandy will crash into you for what will seem like an eternity. The realism in this game is only made better by the stunning visualizations and amazing graphics that encompass the 360’s tri-core processor and graphics card. Everything seems to move on its own, from the bullets on the floor, to the leaves in the tree’s, they’ve accomplished granting every little organism the ability to be one separate, individual entity.
This also grants you the ability to have live chatter with your squad and commanding officers. The radar gives you the ability to navigate quickly through the seemingly miles of endless destruction and terrain under your feet. Not to mention an arm or two by showing you your waypoints and objectives. And with your support always behind you and ready to throw there lives away for the Motherland or was it to get back at those Jerry’s? Whatever it is -- they’re right there with you and you can forget the "old-school" run-and-gun do it yourself all the time attitude -- this game gets serious and so do your partners. They’ve got better Aim, faster sightings, live a lot longer, never run out of ammo or grenades, and just seem to kill better than you and you have too keep up with them some of the time.
The storyline of this game is one of the best I’ve ever seen in a complete war game (despite how many have come out in recent years). The characters that collide throughout the game really play there parts out well, and give the player a feel of the madness of war. The story line also moves well around amazing scenery. It also offers you the ability to take an advantage of your surroundings, things like different guns, machine guns, artillery, and enemy vehicles. These things are only enhanced by the beautiful soundtrack, nearly perfect sound effects, and excellent voice acting.
In the game there are three different story lines, each revolving around World War II. You start off in Russia as Private Vasili Ivanovich Koslov, 13th Guards Rifle Div. of the Soviet Red Army. You’re to follow your company through all the most major battles on the Russian front. Everything that was done here, form the way the cold affects the people to the insane fighting done in the middle of the streets and the tops of buildings, was formulated to give the feel like you were really there.
Then, when you finally get through Russia, you play the part of Corporal John Davis, 7th Armored Div. of the British Army, as you race with your squad through out North Africa repelling waves of the Nazi Afrika Troops. Then half way through, you switch into Tank Commander David Welsh, 7th Armored Div. of the British Army, as you command a tank brigade to take the desert back from Rommel. You fight through enemy tanks and strong holds; you really realize how it feels to be in the desert heat getting fired upon from every angle, but in the darkness of confusion, a light of hope – you’re team is back at it with amazing skills and some of the best AI–gamer cooperation strategies I have yet to experience in a video game. You eventually switch back to Cpl. Davis and finish off Germany in France, before you’re returned to your American counterpart Corporal Bill Taylor, 2nd Ranger Battalion of the US Army.
After that, you enter, “Your Finest Hour.” Now, in my own opinion, no game did storming the beaches of Normandy better than Medal of Honor: Frontline. I still think that to a degree, as far as action packed mayhem goes – it’s still Frontline, but the realism, the horror, and the action packed intensity of the game makes this one of greatest scenes in video games period. As you advance with your squad, you’re barraged by mortar shells, machine guns, heavy guns, and you really see the toll war takes on not only your enemies but your comrades as well. When you’re done in this level, you’re done with the mission. The last levels are the Battle of the Bulge and are extremely difficult, tight window to window fighting. It gets really intense, but the storyline becomes more beautiful near the end of the game, as it evolves from a WWII FPS game to what begins to seem like something you went through at one point in your life.
The soldiers on both sides, are also about 100x smarter than they have ever been. Even on playing on the hardest difficulties couldn’t produce soldiers that can fight on par with this AI system. I can’t really describe the Allies strategies, since I am the point rifle man, and I’m always just the one who does it, not plans it. The enemy AI is incredible. The things I’ve seen, I can’t even begin to describe. In the midst of really heated battles, the enemey can actually set up their own road blocks, bring in the heavy guns where needed, form their own flank routines, and if they don’t work - they change it, even during the flank itself to fit my own maneuvers.
They form their own rotations and their own tactics in front of you if their previous maneuvers didn’t work. On top of all that, the weirdest thing is if when you kill a guy, and then you died - the AI seems to remember it happens and changes his attack to fit the way you killed him when you have another go at the mission. The AI will also start meleeing you if you get to close. Their melee attacks compared to your own are killer. They’re a million times stronger and it’s like they can’t be stopped. If an enemy does try to melee you, one headshot will take them out - a good machine gunning should do the job. Also remember that they can sort of regenerate health just like you. If you take out there legs, they can either regenerate, or if it was a half decent job, they will sit up and continue to shoot you with no legs! And if you think grenades can stop them? You’re wrong my friend - this enemy AI knows when you’ve thrown a grenade, and they (unlike you) can throw them back at you! Or, if need be on a select difficulty, they will run to another spot before you even throw it and counter with a multitude of well-aimed shots.
Mortar shells are scarily accurate, and well calculated. Do not think there is shelter anywhere that isn’t a fixed position. They will take down any kind of vehicle, and when you thought walls were safe? Tanks are the worst. They will shoot down specific walls and blow through even crates and shacks! Their charge maneuvers are almost unstoppable, and require a lot of close range insurgency combat. That’s basically all I can even begin to describe to you about the AI, you will have to experience it for yourselves to truly know that kind of fear, I mean - I’m still having trouble with the panzers on extreme difficulty.
Thirdly, and lastly for a reason is the online multiplayer. I was disappointed when playing over Xbox Live, it simply leaves something to be desired. The game lags like nothing I’ve played before, and it’s no good for anyone. I doubt if it’s a cheating method or not, but its certainly a problem. There is no player balance with all of the different kinds of games, and you can always wind up with uneven amounts of players. I’ve played from four on one, to a 1 on 1 game through the Quick Game select mode. The amount of customization is very little, if any. You’re can choose the kind of game you’re looking for (the selection is very general and kind of out-dated, very mundane). Once inside the game, at any point you can choose to switch your weapons at respawn, but at any point in time during the game you can also switch your team from the losing to the winning side. This is helpful in getting the team you wanted, but also creates for a very easy way to be lame and constantly win. That’s all the worst parts of the game, you may have your own little peeves about it - but the playing itself is amazing, and just as good as the actual game play. With all the varieties of maps, weapons, and enemies, it still creates a very awesome multiplayer experience. Its just rough when it comes to actually getting started in a game, or starting your own server.
Final Words and Scores...
As you can probably tell, I was completely blown away by the amount of realism that this game harnesses. Through every door, around every corner, proning on the ground for your enemey to give mercy, this game will immerse you. No matter how much of a non-FPS person you may be, you simply can't say this game doesn't rock. From beginning to end I was taken back by the intensity of the action, and the gameplay.
The graphics in this game are beautiful, although I wouldn't particularly call them "next-generation" and definately not ground-breaking. But it is executed nicely, and the environments are detailed to the max, giving yet another level of immersion.
As mentioned many times before, the gameplay is amazing. The AI is more than smart, it is ingenious. Forming to my every move trying to knock me from my objectives (and ultimately kill me). This provides for the most intense battles throughout the entire game. The level of replayability isn't all that amazing - you can replay it trying different angles, different routes, but its not going to change anything in the game (although not many games do this). You will probably want to replay certain levels of the game to show your friends its awesomeness.
I was mostly disappointed with the multiplayer. It felt incomplete, and I don't like joining random games all of the time - I want to play with my friends as well! With all of the lag problems that the hosts of games seem to be having, it was tough to fit in a solid game of Call of Duty 2 via Xbox Live. When I did get a good game with a good host, it was fantastic. So it wasn't a total loss.
: 5/5 stars
: 4/5 stars
: 3/5 stars
Call of Duty 2
: 4/5 stars
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