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

One of the finest military FPS games ever made.

1. STORY & GAME MODES

Well as obvious as it may be, Call of Duty 2 is set during the second half of World War II and you play as 4 Allied Militants: Private Vasili Ivanovich (Soviet Union), Sergeant John Davis & Commander David Welsh (British) and Corporal Bill Taylor (American). The game firstly puts you in Stalingrad, 1942, right in the midst of the and ’s battle of . Following this you take control of the British forces in Eastern Europe during 1943 & 1944 and then finalize the defeat of the Nazi forces with the during 1944 and ‘45. Throughout the game, the representation of the War is done very well both throughout gameplay, sound, graphics and other segments, creating a very realistic and atmospheric experience, such as you would expect from a high-profiled Next-Gen World War II game. The only problems I had with the game’s story mode is its obvious exclusion of any events prior to , 1942. So for those unfamiliar with the specific details of the war may feel a little unmotivated at first to “kill all the Nazi’s”. Along with this, the inevitable end to the game was massively disappointing and anti-climatic, obviously missing out the part about the nuking . It was because of this, I was surprised there was even a Russian campaign at all, fortunately, they didn’t go that far however.

As far as Call of Duty 2’s game modes go, you can’t go wrong at all and probably won’t get bored for a very long time. Single player, features the basic campaign mode which puts you against 10 different campaigns (3 Soviet, 4 British, 3 American), bringing you up against 27 different missions. This in itself will take you around 10 hours to get through on regular difficulty, and then there are always the tougher settings for all you Gamer Score addicts out there. Get bored of this however and you can take on your friends locally or on-line through Xbox Live. Without a doubt, one of the greatest experiences of Call of Duty 2 is its multiplayer modes, especially online. Altogether there are 5 modes: ‘Deathmatch’, ‘Team Deathmatch’, ‘Capture the Flag’, ‘Headquarters’ & ‘Search & Destroy’. The latter 2 you may not have heard of or played, but if you’ve played any FPS game prior to CoD 2 then you will most likely already know the first 3. ‘Headquarters’ is essentially a territorial game and is essentially a new game mode. In this mode, only one base can be set up at a time by one team. As this team sets up base, they get a point for every second they defend the base, while the other team tries to kill all defending opponents and take back the base. ‘Search & Destroy’ was also featured in the original Call of Duty game, where one team has to plant a bomb and destroy one of two objectives while the other team defends.

So in terms of game modes, you have a lot to do here in CoD 2, maybe not so much if you’re a passive player and don’t want to go through the entire campaign mode on the hardest difficulty setting and being unlucky enough not be connected to Xbox Live. My job here is to review what is potentially on offer however, and in that respect, CoD 2 deserves great respect.

Story Rating: 4/5
Game Modes Rating: 4/5

Story & Game Modes Rating: 8/10



2. GAMEPLAY & CONTROL

The controls in Call of Duty 2 are all basic and relative to most other First Person Shooter games out there nowadays. You have your basic Right Trigger firing control, left & right thumb stick movement controls. Alongside this you will use the face buttons to reload firearms, jump and crouch. Shoulder buttons control smoke and fragmentation grenades, while the left trigger gives you a closer scope for all weapons, and a literal view through a scope for the sniper rifles. Clicking the right thumb stick will also perform melee attacks which surprisingly do quite a great deal of damage (usually one-hit kills). So in comparison to most other console FPS games, Call of Duty 2 doesn’t elaborate on the control structure that much at all, but most importantly they work comfortably and fantastically well.

Gameplay within Call of Duty 2 consists of 3 elements: Shooting guys, throwing grenades, and hiding behind things a lot. Well, what did you expect? World War II wasn’t exactly rocket science. Fortunately nothing is wrong with playing war with Call of Duty in fact, it makes it fun. Aside from the usual gameplay there will be numerous moments in the game where you will find yourself actually feeling like you are part of a much greater and important event. Playing through he Russian campaign first time round and repelling the German forces to the screams and roars of your fellow comrades really felt amazing and as realistic as video games get. Speaking of realism, enemies will die appropriately if shot in certain areas of the body and react accordingly, and the speed, momentum and objectives you will encounter whilst playing through the game are undoubtedly precise and strikingly real, which makes this game really addictive.

As a counter-balance to this however there are the odd features that are more in place for good gameplay rather that total realism. Such areas include only a select few but of course, one of which is the health system. The health system is similar to that of more modern FPS games in which you do have a set amount of health but it is never shown on the screen and is judged simply by the reaction of your character on screen. Although this is totally realistic and takes away a fraction of HUD interface that obstructs such realistic gameplay, the way in which your health magically regenerates is what lets the realism down. However, is that really a problem? Of course not, it’s a game and whatever makes the game more playable and enjoyable as a result is what I as a game reviewer look for and review and in that respect, CoD 2’s health system works just as well as any other FPS that adopts it. In a way it is a little more realistic that picking up medical packs and regaining health altogether and is far more enjoyable.

Campaigns usually consists of 2-4 missions (levels) of which also contain around 2-10 sub-missions. All of these vary from eliminating enemy forces, taking over key buildings, taking down enemy planes, tanks, artillery and sniping enemy snipers to clear paths for your fellow soldiers, and that’s not all. There really is a whole range of things in Call of Duty 2 for you to go through and should have you coming back times and times again.

Multiplayer in Call of Duty 2 is a lot like Battlefield or any other World War II FPS games with multiplayer modes. As described above you have a few expected game modes and a couple more original types. There are 13 maps in total taking you from close range village encounters in France to long ranged sniper-ridden wastelands in Russia, so you do have quite a wide selection depending on your skills. As far as weapons go, there are 23 weapons available to choose from when playing in multiplayer mode. Of course, you can’t choose from every one at the one time. Instead each country out of the 4 selectable has its own selection of weaponry and each sharing the M1897 Trench Gun. Although limited to your own side’s gun selection, you can however swap one of your two weapons with a fallen enemy’s and add insult to injury by shooting them down with it. As with most FPS games, the weapon balance is generally tweaked so that any player skilled enough can use any weapon and make it ‘the best’. I feel I should not however that there has been many arguments since the games release over whether or not the consistent use of snipers and shotguns in matches is really that skilful at all, and sometimes it can be true. So in some cases the weapon balance can be off, but it all really depends on your own skill level, the map and whether or not you’re a good shot. So after a while, a good bolt-action rifle shot to the head of sniper aiming down his scope should be satisfying enough for those who work for it and it can be done. In conclusion I’ll simply state that it’s not so much the balance or difficulty of using certain guns in multiplayer but the learning curve. When all is said and done however, I’d give CoD a near perfect balance rating for weaponry. As for teams, every map will give you a choice of going Axis forces, and depending on the setting you will be able to choose one of the other three teams. This isn’t so much a good feature as it does limit things a bit needlessly and can get annoying if you have to join a side that you’re not experienced in.

One of the nicest additions to CoD’s multiplayer mode is the ‘Killcam’ in which you can view the last 10 seconds of your death through the eyes of your killer. Not only does this hinder a lot of camping and sniper tactics but is just simply cool. Of course it is not mandatory to watch your own gruesome death; skip it and continue on with your war any time you like. Which is fortunate because ten seconds can mean a lot during a heated battle with a minute or so left. Another small thing I would like to mention that was major to me was the great ‘anti-hopper’ disability the developers put into the game. What this does is limit you to jumping once, and then after doing so your running speed will be cut quite badly and also your jumping distance will be severed leaving all those ‘hoppers’ out there low of defence and much more reliant on environment and crouching for cover. Not only does this greatly improve multiplayer experience but also makes it much more realistic. Yes, watching people jump around like kangaroos in Battlefield 2 wasn’t exactly the most realistic experience for me, so in this area Call of Duty 2 sticks it to the man.

Notable negative points to CoD’s gameplay are the lack of artillery and tank game modes in multiplayer, linked with the fact that you can only have 8 players in one match and at one time as compared to the 64 (I think) players you can have on the PC version of the game. Another disappointing point to the game is the restriction you have in communicating with your team-mates in single player. They will follow you when you advance and you can tell them to move out your way but that’s about it. You can’t usually order them to go ahead in front of you or throw any smoke grenades or anything along those lines. Instead you end up feeling like it’s totally up to you to do everything. It also doesn’t help that the team-mates of a higher military ranking than you (which cannot be killed) usually don’t do much except guide you on what to do next and hide behind you while you shoot guys down. The rest of your team will help out a lot more frequently but are also very much dispensable and will die quite often. Not to worry though because when one man dies, another runs in from supply units elsewhere, as if there was an almighty force making sure you had a certain amount of troops with you at one moment in time, quite handy really. A major problem I had with the gameplay (and the last) was certain points in the single player mode where enemies kept re-spawning until you advanced in on their positions making it extremely difficult, unrealistic and therefore giving you no real reason to take your time and shoot all the guys before you move in. Instead you’ll simply have to throw a smoke grenade and a couple of fragmentation grenades at your enemy’s position, shoot a couple that didn’t survive and watch them no longer re-occupy the position you’ve successfully obtained over and over again.

Fear not however, Call of Duty 2’s gameplay as a whole is quite simply one of the greatest to come out of its genre and is fully deserving of high recognition. Not only supremely successful in creating a great FPS World War II game that not only recreates a very realistic moment in history but also a highly playable and enjoyable throughout, FPS game.

Gameplay & Control Rating: 9/10



3. GRAPHICS

First and foremost, the graphics in this game are spectacular and from what I’ve experienced, just as well as a high-end PC’s version. Everything is detailed magnificently and has been crafted with great care, creating as I have said many times before, as much as a realistic representation of the settings in World War II as you can get. One problem however is that it’s almost too perfect, ‘’is there even such a thing?’’ you may be asking, well yes, at least in the developer’s eyes. You see as nice to look at as the maps in CoD is, no matter what you do, absolutely nothing in multiplayer mode is destructible at all and in Campaign Mode you will be severely limited to what you can touch or blow up, and in most cases it’s because you have to as part of your objective. Yes, I know it seems like a small point to make but in all honesty, it does take away from the game’s feel now and then, especially with a game that’s as unromantic as Call of Duty 2.

Minor problems aside however and what you have is something quite impressive. All 23 weapons in the game are represented historically and graphically well, looking crisp, clean and yet slightly outdated in comparison to today’s standard weaponry. Considering you look down the barrel of many a gun around 99% of the time in CoD 2, this is quite an important thing to get right, and they did, 100% right: Guns will recoil as your fire, individually, each with their own recoil force; Blood with spray from body parts as you fire into them, causing your enemy to retract or fall to their deaths (and sometimes even taking their last breaths to sit up and shoot back with their handgun); Fragmentation grenades will blow soldiers 6 feet in the air, sometimes in a kind of romantic kind of fashion if placed correctly; Smoke grenades will create a huge cloud of smoke that looks as impressive as it gets when represented in a computer game; and bullets will fire with great speed and ferocity both out of your gun, and at your head.

The levels in Single player are themselves at times of a medium size, but will seem huge as you will spend quite a lot of time covering and making the most out of almost all the area of the map. Detail is superb and everything looks brilliantly accurate from the deserts of to the icy battlegrounds of . All kinds of weather are also placed in and throughout the game showing off the game’s wonderful attention to detail and realism. You’ll encounter snow, rain, sun, night and day throughout your conquest and it all looks amazing. As for the multiplayer maps, I’m still not entirely sure if these are small adaptations of the single player environments, but I’m pretty sure they aren’t and simply look a lot like the places you visit during the campaign. Anyway, as I’ve already said, there are 13 maps in total giving you chance to play in , , & as any of the 3 Allies or the evil Germans. Most are average in size but there are the odd close-encounter and long-range maps there to choose from, so you won’t get fed up for a long time.

Outside of gameplay you can expect decent cut-scenes in real-time rendering, World War II archive footage with audio commentary of events at the time for each of the 10 campaign modes and diaries of the people you play as before each mission. All of them add a great deal to the overall feeling of the game and are excellently done.

Character models also look very good, and lifelike, unlike those of Perfect Dark Zero which looked more like a 3D Comic brought to life. Animations work magnificently and there’s little if not any ‘rag-doll’ type falling, instead it’s all played out small but respectable and it will take a good while for the body to fade out and disappear to free up memory. Coupled along with this is the game’s highly stable frame rate which never messes about, even when up against something like 40+ Germans and the same goes with the multiplayer, as long as you update your game with the newly released patch that fixes internet lag issues when playing across Xbox Live.

Graphics Rating: 10/10



4. SOUND

World War II was a time before Rock and Roll ever surfaced but that doesn’t mean it won’t grab your attention. Musically CoD is almost completely dry but what is stuffed in there is as welcome as a helicopter full of reinforcements. The timing is always perfect and the quality is fantastic, fitting the scene and gameplay moments entirely in with the typical pride inspiring orchestral music score associated with War movies. Not only does this actually make you feel proud and accomplished but it helps the entire feeling of the game by adding that extra twist of sheer scale and cinematic feel of the events you are taking part in.

As for the sound effects, well, you can’t get much better. The weaponry ranges from anti-tank blasts, automatic rifle fire, shotgun pumping, and sniper bullets whizzing past your lucky face. The levels of volume for gunfire, explosions and human sounds are all tweaked accurately well, in relation to the distance between yourself and the event. What’s even more impressive is that each gun has its own individual firing, reloading and clip sounds, making for a very highly detailed and rich wall of sound accompanying you through an already lifelike war simulation. Throw this in with the shouting of your comrades telling you where enemy fire is coming from, how to progress on with your mission and Germans screaming at you whilst bashing your face in with the handle of a gun and the effect and detail of sound in Call of Duty truly takes shape.

Sound Rating: 10/10



5. LIFELINE

Call of Duty 2 has 2 main lifeline elements: Single Player and Multiplayer. For the Single Player enthusiast you can expect around 10 hours at the most of gameplay to get through the entire game on the default normal difficulty setting. Due to the diversity and enjoyment experienced through this mode however I can see it getting another couple of plays either on harder difficulties to get Gamer Score points or simply doing again on the normal difficulty. I’m simply going to go with my own experience and say that I’ve gotten around 30 hours out of the campaign mode so far and that’s by going through on normal then the hardest difficulty, ‘’Veteran’’.

As for multiplayer, well you could go on playing this for months. I have no idea how much time I’ve wasted playing countless matches on Xbox Live instead of writing this review but I can definitely say it’s around the 50 hour mark (possibly more) and I’m far from being bored of it. The gameplay and game modes are more than enough to give you a completely different experience each time you pop the disc in and connect to a server. As a result, based upon my 1 point per 10 hours lifeline rating system, Call of Duty 2 deserves nothing short of a perfect score.

Lifeline Rating: 10/10



6. DIFFICULTY BALANCE

Call of Duty features no race classes, no varied species or boss like characters like a lot FPS games do to add a little extra level of difficulty to get past. Instead Call of Duty 2 throws more Germans at you, takes away things to hide behind, cuts a few members from your team and makes you do things like take out 5 flank teams then crawl up a hill that seems to grow Germans and then defend it against what seems to be every German that ever existed. ‘’Does it work?’’ you ask. Well, yes. It does.

You see, the game never gets too hard, nor does it remain as amazingly easy as the tutorial level. Instead what you get is a more or less consistent increase in difficulty level that can dip or increase a little over time but more or less gets it right around 80% of the time. There will be the odd moment where you will find yourself cursing at the screen over and over for half an hour until you finally progress but it’s never anything unbearably unreachable, just as long as you have patience.

Increasing difficulty levels will affect your health threshold, enemy health and well, that’s about it. I didn’t really notice any progression in terms of AI or mission objectives when increasing either difficulty or missions, but to be honest the AI is brilliant as it is anyway and increasing it may have brought this score down, so thankfully, that is all that changes with difficulty level.

A good well-rounded game that challenges yet keeps you going for more.

Difficulty Balance Score: 9/10



7. ORIGINALITY

Need I really elaborate on this category? Oh well, okay. You see what we have here is a sequel, and port of a PC game. Further more, it’s a basic FPS game set during World War II with 3 out of 5 online game modes more or less the same as any other multiplayer FPS game. However- and I’m glad there is at least a few things to mention- Call of Duty is like no other when it comes to cinematic and realistic representation of the Second World War. There is the odd less popular online modes and the killcam is definitely a work of genius. Not only this but Call of Duty 2 for the 360 is just as good looking as its PC counterpart which is something quite rare for a PC to console port. Oh yes and there’s a lacking amount of hopping going on, so it’s really not all that bad.

Originality Score: 4/10



8. ENJOYMENT

From start to finish, Call of Duty 2 will enrapture you, make you want to go on and on for hours saving the world from the Germans and then you’ll want to go online and test your skills out on some people from around the world for the next few months. Whether you want to drive tanks, snipe unsuspecting foes from building windows, blast Nazi’s in the air with shotguns or shoot planes from the sky, Call of Duty has it all and what an experience it is. There is no doubt that many people will love this game as much as I did and it’s quite simply one of the most enjoyable and fun FPS games out there for any console. The only reasons I can see for not enjoying this game would be if you don’t actually like FPS games or if you’re a Nazi, with that said however, you can always go shoot some Allie scum in multiplayer as your favourite German and then everyone’s happy! Seriously though, there will be the odd moment when shooting people may get a little too much or something may get a little too difficult and enjoyment will drop, but that’s about all there is wrong with it.

Enjoyment Score: 9/10



OVERVIEW

Story & Game Modes: 8
Gameplay & Control: 9
Graphics: 10
Sound: 10
Lifeline: 10
Balance: 9
Originality: 4
Enjoyment: 9
Overall: 69

FINAL SCORE: 8.6/10
XGD RATING: 9/10




FINAL WORD

If only real war was a 4v4 game of Call of Duty 2 then the world would be happier place. If you don’t already have Call of Duty 2 for your PC then this is definitely a reason to buy an Xbox 360 and along with it, this very game. This is a prime example of how all World War II FPS games should aspire to become. A game full of rich multimedia, gameplay, and value, Call of Duty 2 will take you in, swallow you for months within its world and then spit you out leaving you with a taste of war that can only be described as epic. If you’re even thinking about getting this game, follow you heart. You won’t be disappointed.

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