A big disappointment in such a fine series...
Perhaps I am spoiled by the nirvana that is Call of Duty 4, but Call of Duty 3, even without the comparison, is merely average. First off, the story is really bad. And I mean really bad. Many times people don't care about the story, but you will have to here, because all of the cutscenes are unskippable. Even after you finish the game and want to jump in and take a mission for a quick spin, you will have to watch poorly voiced and animated dialogue for about 5 minutes before doing so. Also, while I despise the Nazis as much as the next American, can't we change it up a bit and give us a little backstory on them so they are not one-faced Krauts who only serve the purpose of target practice? World War II games need to grow up, or go away if this is the road we are taking. Still, that isn't the worst part about the game.
Treyarch, the developer, decided to put in these corny 'battle actions.' If you have to plant a bomb, you have to press a button, rotate a joystick, and press a button again, with the same animation everytime. It gets quite annoying when you have to plant 4-5 bombs in one level. Also, there are these times when an enemy (all scripted) will jump at you and you have to do another set of button combinations. It is cool first, but repetitive as it goes on.
In addition, while the gunplay is classic COD, a few things hold it back. There are some bad hit detection times when you aim and hit nothing, but times when you are extremely accurate. Additionally, a huge pest on my playing session, the grenade indicator, will annoy even the most patient gamer. A whole button ritual is required to throw an enemy grenade back, and don't they realize I am holding a ticking time bomb in my hands? Hello? Well, you will eventually get the hang of it, but you will have already died many useless deaths.
The objectives are tried and true, although they are sometimes monotonous and clichéd. That is typical of war games, but come on, maybe a little originality?
Perhaps the worst part about the game, the AI, is horrible. There are times when I get shot and I am barely near any enemy, but there are also many times when I rush up to the Nazis and they don't even notice me. This has happened a lot. In addition to the poor AI, there is a lot of sloppy detection on the ground. For instance, your character will be running and will just stop for no reason. Looking down, you will see a piece of wood sticking about 5 inches out of the ground. Is that causing me to stop moving? Wow...
To break up firefights, driving segments are put in. The jeep is way to easy to control, and the map doesn't properly show where to go in a fork in the road until the last second.
Phew, now that I vented, I will say all the GOOD things about this game. The graphics are great, if a little dated. Actually, there are a few annoying bugs with movement, but graphics wise, this is one of the best older 360 games. And of course, like typical COD fare, the sound is phenomenal and will shake your sound system to its core. The game is very fun, if flawed and not perfect. It is not a bad game by any stretch, just annoying.
The brightest part of the package? The multiplayer. While not as impressive as COD4's, COD3's online is actually really fun. You can drive and choose classes, and the ripsaw rate is pretty fast. In addition, the maps are diverse and entertaining to roam in, and the general Xbox Live population seems friendly and pleasant.
In conclusion, Call of Duty 3 is a step back for the series, but still a good game. There are a lot of stupid problems that shouldn't be there, but whatever. If you are reading this review, than chances are, you have this game or want to buy it. A word of advice: Don't buy it; buy Call of Duty 2 instead (it is A LOT cheaper and a bit better) or just buy Call of Duty 4, the best one yet. I am quite concerned that Treyarch is going to be working on Call of Duty 5 with or without Infinity Ward. If they take the same approach to that as they did to this, we are going to end up with one of the biggest disappointments in gaming history. Then again, if they tighten their game and put in the effort, they can make something that will really shine.