pinkelephant's Call of Duty 2 (Xbox 360) review

Captures the frantic action of World War II better than most

No game since the original Call of Duty has been able to capture the essence of the genre quite like it. The second game in the series, and Call of Duty's debut on consoles, follows in the footsteps of its predecessor by providing a campaign brimming with intense gun combat and a fully featured fast-paced online multi-player mode. Although Call of Duty 2 may not have much of a narrative, its exciting action and addictive multi-player will keep you interested one way or the other.

You'll start the campaign as a Russian soldier, but later you'll fight as both a Briton and an American. Besides having weapons distinct to each faction like the American's Thompson sub-machine gun and the Russian's Mosin Nagant, each faction has distinct battles. For example, as a Russian you'll defend Stalingrad and as an American you’ll take part in a D-Day landing on Point du Hoc. Although each faction has subtle differences, you’re still killing Nazi’s when it comes down to it.

Each mission begins with a vignette, which includes authentic war footage, but unless you're already interested in World War II history, these intros are pretty dry. Also, Call of Duty 2 has no characters or narrative to follow. The story is almost non-existent, but the game makes up for it with a genuine feeling of camaraderie between you and your fellow soldiers.

As a member of your squad you fight for your life just like everyone else. Nazis constantly fire from all sides so you’ll need to use cover and have a steady shot in order to be successful. But you’re not alone. Your squad mates are adept and they’ll often help YOU just as much as you help them. Bits of their dialog like “Cover me, I’m reloading!” also help establish the bond between you and your fellow soldiers.

If there's one aspect of World War II that Call of Duty 2 conveys best, it's the frenetic action of warfare. There’s never a dull moment, whether you’re kneeling behind sandbags picking off Nazis one by one, sniping enemies from afar, or commandeering tanks in the North African desert. Most objectives are simple: make it to the spot on your compass-map while killing every Nazi on your path. And thankfully the shooting is lots of fun, because you’ll be doing a lot of it. Each gun has a growl that sounds genuine and feels powerful, and the aiming reticule is subtle to keep you immersed in the action.

Although the multi-player isn’t a cinematic experience, it’s fully featured with several maps and game types. It’s easy to get right into the action with a “Quick Match,” and a whole lot of fun to pick your favorite faction and weapon to hone your skills with. The maps are varied, giving you a variety of options and overall the game has a top-notch online experience.

Call of Duty 2’s thrilling campaign and competitive multiplayer make it one of the best first-person choices on the Xbox 360.

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