COD2 was such a tough act to follow, can Treyarch live up to it?
The first thing to notice upon completing Call of Duty 3 was how short the Campaign is. You'll finish it in less than 8 hours on any average difficulty. The missions are relatively short and have live-saving checkpoints after nearly all the objectives. That’s not to say the game isn't tough, because there are several moments which will have you tearing your hair out. This brings me to the difficulty issues. Many of the levels are fairly straight forward, go here, do this sort of stuff, fight Germans along the way. But the fighting along the way can be excruciating in some cases. For instance enemy soldiers when peaking around crates and such appear to be invincible to your shots. The only way to take them out is by actually making your way too them, popping around the crate and cracking them across the head with the butt of your gun. Doing this while under fire is almost impossible, so you'll find yourself waiting a lot of the time for your own troops to do something or for the hiding enemy to make a run for it, in which case you give him a couple of rounds to the back. These balance issues drag the game down in my opinion.
The actual level design is pretty good. You find yourself meandering through small alleys, broken houses and through basements. One negative point about these ultra chaotic environments is that there are many nooks and crannies for your character to get caught on, I found myself unable to move a few times and when looking down, there was a small plank of wood on the floor which was blocking my path. Your squad mates will regularly get in your way too, preventing you from escaping enemy grenades. You can pick up grenades thrown at you with the X button, but if a squad mate is in the way and the grenade is just out of reach, you're rat food! You'll definitely enjoy the final levels of the game, you follow the Polish, Canadian & British story arch’s into one final fight in Chambois, France, having spent the entire game boxing the Germans in and forcing them towards the Americans. The final level is epic; every element of the battle as it moves through the town to the final stand is rich with dialog, explosions and emotion.
One major driving factor in the emotion the game carries is via the music. During the intense battles as you push forward, courageous music will start to play, almost willing you on to fight better, be braver. The same can be said for the almost hopeless battles where you're surrounded and the music playing is what you'd expect in a blockbuster war movie where the hero makes his last stand and ultimately succumbs to the enemy. If you've got a decent sound system then Call of Duty 3 will definitely shine for you. I would say half the experience is the sound effects. The sharp stings of the rifle firing, the screams of soldiers on the battlefield, the explosions in the distance, heard only through your sub woofer. It all adds up to a beautiful audio assault on your ears. Your ears will be ringing for hours after you've finished playing.
Without question, the best thing about Call of Duty 3 is the Multiplayer. Making a huge improvement on Call of Duty 2's limited maps and modes, Call of Duty 3 blasts onto the scene with more maps, more players on the server and adding vehicle combat. You can also increase your rank by earning points, unlocking achievements as you go. Being trapped in a wrecked building fighting for your life, alongside 'real-life' people, while you're being stormed by 'real-life' enemies is a rare gem of intensity that a lot of online shooters lack. With all the maps, weapons, classes and vehicles, you could play Call of Duty 3 Multiplayer for a long time without need for anything else. But with Call of Duty 4 around the corner, that might just change....