Call of Duty 2
“Let’s get in the war!”
Call of Duty 2 is probably the most vicious World War II first-person shooter you’ll ever play. While the original often shifted between fast shoot-outs with the Krauts and slower clandestine forays into enemy territory, the sequel plays like a continuous roller coaster ride. Battles rage at dizzying speeds, gunfire and explosions surround you, barely covering the screams of soldiers from both sides, and there’s a lot of chaos, confusion and uninterrupted action.
Revisiting The War
The campaign has 27 missions covering several major fronts, but the hectic speed of it all means you can’t play for long stretches without suffering battle fatigue. In all it’s a very exhilarating if somewhat demanding experience. Sequentially trailblazing through the war as either Russian, British and American, you unlock missions around Stalingrad, North Africa, Normandy (including a spectacular D-Day beach assault on Point du Hoc) and eventually Germany. It’s only unfortunate the game ends short of storming the Reichstag.
Call of Duty 2 is a very conventional type of action game, though what it does it delivers exceptionally. When shooting it out with the Germans, you advance with your squad from cover to cover, slowly picking off enemies as they pop out to fire back. Missions are scripted and you’re artificially herded from objective to objective in a linear manner, your trusty compass always pointing the way, but it never quite feels contrived. In fact the entire experience is viciously realistic and the fighting intense.
A few new twists to the combat dynamic shift gameplay quite a bit. An improved health system ripped from Halo is the first major change, and it’s a welcomed one at that. No longer must you backtrack and hunt for health packs – instead just stay hidden behind cover when in the red zone and your health slowly recharges. This might sound like it could make the game too arcade, but the balanced difficulty ensure you get the right amount of challenge. In fact you can notch up the difficulty to ‘Hardened’ and get a much more realistic gaming experience, where careful aiming and flanking maneuvers are essential.
The PC-centric controls are great as well, to the point where the game has all the best marks of a modern shooter minus those pesky porting oversights you get today – crap FOV and gamepad controls. Combat here will feel very familiar to those who’ve played the first Call of Duty, with all that game’s streamlined goodness as far as player movement. The interface is largely the same as well, with one useful addition. The new Grenade Indicator is an FPS standard by now, showing the position of nearby enemy potato mashers and signalling you do run away. It’s a very useful feature to have.
The only noticeable betrayal of its console roots is the use of checkpoints instead of quicksaving to record mission progression, though they’re cleverly placed enough not to be that much of an issue. Overall Call of Duty 2 is pretty flawless as a no-nonsense action trip, though it would have been even better if the multiplayer were more expansive. United Offensive dazzled with its tanks, jeeps and flak guns, but here the maps are a lot smaller and any scattered vehicles are unusable props. It still plays well as is, but doesn’t approach the devilish fun of COD: UO.
There’s a lot of good, bad and so-so World War II shooters out there. Bullet for bullet, this one’s probably the best and most intense of the bunch thanks to its raw, brutal action. For those in search of a fast shooter and spectacular virtual battles, this is the real deal.
System Requirements: CPU 1.4 Ghz, 256 MB RAM, 64 MB Video, 4 GB HDD, Win2k / XP