Call of Duty 3 Review
|Genre:||First Person Shooter|
|Release Date:||November 10th, 2006 (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Scott Smith (Poog)|
As a big FPS fan, I thought Call of Duty 2 was by far and away the best Xbox 360 launch title, sporting high quality visuals, fast paced action and an ease of use never really seen before in first person shooters on a console - the slight helping hand when pressing the left trigger to aim made tackling a shooter with an analogue stick much more enjoyable than any other I had played before. Add that to a number of stunningly represented environments and we had a truly excellent game, let alone shooter.
The question I asked myself when picking up its sequel was simple; could they really improve on such a good game? In short I would have to say yes. While Call of Duty 3 doesn't boast the variety in scenery and settings of its predecessor, it makes up for it with a much needed online feature that was sorely missing previously. It doesn't stop there though; the graphics are sublime, ranking very highly amongst games I have played on the console.
Call of Duty 3 takes place during the allied breakout from Normandy in World War II (of course), running you through the 88 days that lead to the liberation of Paris. Along the way you get to take part in assaults by five nations (although you only get to play as four as you assist the French), the British, Americans, Canadians, French and Polish. Call of Duty games have never been that heavy on story, other than being involved in one of the biggest stories of the century of course, however this time we do get cut scenes that make a good enough job of guiding you through the events that take place. A little niggle here is that they cannot be skipped, which I found annoying now and again.
Treyarch obviously kept in mind the old saying "If it's not broken, don't fix it" and as such the way the game is controlled and played hasn't changed very much if at all, therefore once again playing an FPS on a console is a painless joy.
Whilst the engine for Call of Duty 3 has received some graphical tweaking and tuning, it uses the same rock steady approach taken in CoD2. The game is fast paced, the action chaotic. Rarely has a game had me hooked literally from the get go. Your first port of call is to the nicely scripted tutorial, here you're ran through the basics, firing a gun, throwing a grenade - you get the picture. Once finished you're thrown straight into battle, quite literally. Without trying to ruin the moment for you all, the carnage and feeling of awe presented at the start is quite breath-taking. If you didn't know you were in a war, you will after this.
As the game progresses and the story unfolds you are treated to some inspiringly immersive action cut scenes, the use of sound and exploding visuals really does grab your attention and push you towards the end of your seat. Turn your speakers on loud and enjoy the intense sound of war is my advice.
A couple of things have been added to the third instalment in the series; the ability to pick up and throw grenades back from whence they came for example - an exhilarating move when pulled off properly, if not a tad risky. The main new addition to the engine though would be that of the action events. At certain points throughout the game you'll be asked to perform a set of buttons to complete varying tasks. Planting bombs require you to place the device, insert the fuse and pull the pin, firing a mortar requires you to turn a handle for aim and trajectory and the list goes on. The most noticeable of them all though is the scripted action events involving mêlée with a German soldier. Get it wrong and no matter how good you are with a loaded rifle, you can kiss your arse goodbye. Although they are a pleasant change to the old hold X to plant a bomb, after the first couple of times they don't really add much, I would say all in all nothing is gained nor lost for their addition.
The AI in CoD3 doesn't vary much from CoD2, as always soldiers are very capable of taking cover and unleashing bullet-laden fury. That said they are also, like before, very capable of standing in a doorway you wish to pass, or behind you getting in the way of grenade cover. Something that has been added is the ability for German troops to turn tail and run for better cover once they have been overcome. This can also lead to a culling as you rip into their behinds as they try to flee.
While maybe not as good as Gears of War (but let's face it, it will take something special for that to happen) the graphics are far from ordinary. The level of detail put into some of the scenery is quite something; I spent literally five minutes watching blades of grass sway in the wind, foliage has never looked so good. Treyarch can be very proud of what they have achieved, the graphics are about as next-generation as it gets to date.
One thing I will mention though is that, while CoD3 in general is an improvement on CoD2, if I could add something from CoD2 it would have to be the wide array of scenery that is desperately lacking in CoD3. Yes what scenery that is present looks remarkable, but the lack of the lush snowy streets of Russia, or even the brief trip to the desert from CoD2 makes me wonder what they could have looked like with the improved graphics engine. If the game could learn one thing from COD2, it would be that a change of pace and scenery can keep you playing for that little bit longer.
Now we all know that while FPS games can be enjoyable; they tend to be bitter-sweet affairs. Paying 40 pounds for a game that will last you no more than 10 hours is not something you like to do on a regular basis. This is where Xbox Live really does flex its gaming muscle. The usual suspects are included in the mix with deathmatch, team battle and capture the flag, with the addition of head quarters and a war mode which designates you a random zone which must be defended for as long as possible. The online modes are quite similar to the Battlefield series - you get to pick a class which has its own weapon/equipment load-out, and various vehicles are available for use. A well balanced class choice is advisable if you want to succeed; someone's got to play the doctor after all. All in all, the online mode is a much needed addition that is really enjoyable, and while there are no ranks to be achieved stats are recorded for bragging rights over your mates.
Call of Duty 3 is a great FPS, fantastic graphics and sound combined with being easy, intuitive game-play leads to a fulfilling experience. The story is good enough to keep you interested and as FPS games go it's quite lengthy, but like most of the genre the single-player lifespan isn't the greatest. Throw in a robust and team-driven online multi-player though, and the game offers a much more long-term appeal.
- Great Graphics
- Immersive Sound
- Enjoyable multi-player options
- Easy to pickup
Not so good stuff
- Lack of different scenery
- Short story mode