Call of Duty 2 Review
|Release Date:||November 4th (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Shane Lacey (Felon)|
|Buy now at Amazon.co.uk|
Some people seem to think that thee are too many World War II games these days, while that may be true, you can never have too many great games. Call of Duty was 2003's game of the year because it was just that, a truly great game. Infinity Ward had a hard act to follow with the sequel. To be fair, calling it a sequel isn't exactly correct, it doesn't follow on from the first game in any way, but rather tells different stories from different battles from the biggest conflict mankind has ever known.
Call of Duty 2 uses a new a proprietary engine created specifically for the game by Infinity Ward, they've done a solid job with it too, general texture detail is high, the models have plenty of detail and shader effects and the weapon models are superb. Smoke is similar to that in United Offensive and very impressive as are flame effects. Weather is also simulated very well, snow and rain both look realistic enough as to not detract your attention. Steamy breath in the cold is also a nice touch that looks great and adds to gameplay, it's a great clue as to the position of hidden enemies at times.
Smoke also plays an important role in the game, it's not just pretty to look at. Fortunately it not a system killer, though it can get a bit choppy if you have AA and AF cranked up, generally Call of Duty 2 doesn't run slowly, which considering how good it looks, is quite impressive. I will have a minor pop at the player animation though. Sometimes running players can seem to glide along the floor while running, nothing major, just a bit irritating. Facial animation is good though, not up to the standards of Half-Life 2 of course but better than most.
My second and last graphical moan, are the drive-able tanks. They simply don't look quite as good as the rest of the game, they are still reasonable fun to drive though. There isn't much of a physics engine in Call of Duty 2 either, only very few objects are destructible, the obvious oil drums, crates and the odd ornamental piece that explodes nicely when shot. The game doesn't feel any worse for the lack of interactivity with the environment though. There's just too much going on most of the time.
We don't usually say much about sound in our reviews, that's usually because there isn't much to say. So many times potentially good games have been down by their sound effects. Fortunately enough that is not a problem with CoD2, the sound effects are often as hectic as the gameplay and are of the highest quality.
Weapon sounds are crisp and accurate. Explosions, falling rubble and the deafening rumble of nearby tanks are all excellent. Sounds of this quality really does add to the experience. Ambient sound effects are also of high quality, rain in particular sounds great. It rains a lot in England at this time of year and it's really quite impressive that Call of Duty 2 had me looking out of the window for rain on at least one occasion.
Just like the first game, music is entirely orchestral in nature and doesn't detract from the gameplay at all, in fact it's mostly a highly effective tool that steels you for the upcoming major offensive or desperate defensive battle. It really does stir up emotion, mostly excitement and tension for me. Infinity Ward also made good use of silence at the appropriate times.
Perhaps the most impressive audio feature is the sheer amount of chatter your squad mates spout, not only do they say loads of different things, including the odd profanity, but they also all have different accents. I hate to think quite how much audio there is and how much it cost to record but it has really payed off. It really does add a whole new level of realism to the combat and sucks you right in. I would however like to have a little moan about the Russian voices, I would have preferred to have the option of hearing Russian with maybe subtitles rather than the slightly cheesy Russian accent. That's just a personal preference however and it doesn't really spoil the game in any way.
As in the original Call of Duty you get to play as American, British and Russian infantry and on occasion drive a tank. Pretty much what you might expect from a Call of Duty game. Weaponry is also entirely familiar and as there's so much other great stuff to talk about, I'll leave weapons details to the multiplayer section.
A.I. has been significantly improved from the original game. German troops will now use grenades, something I certainly don't remember in Call of Duty, I could also swear that once or twice they threw my own grenades back at me, very disconcerting. As is becoming standard, they will also try to flank you if given half a chance. They will also fall back and regroup on occasion. CoD2 and also F.E.A.R. have made nice advances in A.I. recently, it's most welcome. There does now seem to be a fixed number of enemy troops to fight in each section, no more endlessly spawning enemy that were so evident in United Offensive at times.
Now the enemy throw grenades a new indicator has been added to the HUD which only shows up when your in range of an active grenade, this is one of those features that the jury is out on, it's probably great for the casual gamer though. The second and perhaps more controversial feature that may have been added for the casual gamer is the new health system. No longer are there any health packs lying around, no medics to fix you up intermittently, now should you get shot a few times you simply have to take cover while your health recharges, sounds simple and is. In the context of this fast flowing shooter it works quite well, you just don't have to worry conserving health which can be quite a refreshing change.
The enemy do now seem a littler harder to kill too, so not assume they have been killed once they get shot to the floor, they will quite often get back up and start shooting again, sometimes they will even draw their pistols while on the floor, there are a number or excellent touches like this, throughout the game.
Multiplayer is mostly very familiar if you played the first game and it's mission pack United Offensive, indeed a number of the original maps make a return, however there are plenty of new ones too. All the usual game types are also present again; Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag and Search & Destroy. While it's clearly still a solid multiplayer experience and a lot of fun there a few things which don't seem quite right to me. Firstly, the sniper rifle is now somewhat different, once you hold your breath to steady the weapon there is virtually no wobble and as you can guess this potentially makes it easier to shoot with from stationary positions but much harder to use while moving, perhaps this was the intention. Snipers are certainly less mobile now.
Just like United Offensive, each team now has a multi-shot rifle, even the British get use of the American Garand. In my mind, these weapons are the biggest problem with the game right now, they seem to fire incredibly quickly and seem to have very little recoil, they also seem unerringly accurate while un scoped which pretty much negates the need to ever aim down the barrel, other than for very long range shots. Grenades are not now part of you usual inventory either but are selectable through their own special keys, I'm not sure why this was done either, maybe to make tactical grenades in competitive games all the more difficult. Either way, I think I preferred the grenades how they used to be.
The health system from single player also makes it's way in to the multiplayer game, this is perhaps the most confusing decision, I'm yet to totally figure out whether your health does recharge over time or not,but for the sake of all those funny last ditch pistol kills I hope it doesn't. All in all I'm a little disappointed with Call of Duty 2 multiplayer, for me it just doesn't feel right. I haven't given up however, it is still good fun.
I could talk about Call of Duty 2 all day, it was an absolute pleasure to play, if I told you that this review is only about one third the size of the first draft you'd get the idea, so many things are done so well all through the game. The health system is definitely the biggest change from the first game, and to be fair it works fairly well in the single player game, allowing the action to flow very well, though I personally wouldn't have used it in the multiplayer game.
Whilst the multiplayer doesn't quite do it for me, everything else is frankly awesome. Call of Duty 2 is the best World War II FPS yet made, the only other one that even comes close is it's predecessor. Infinity Ward have managed to maintain the feel of the first classic game and indeed add to it. It's the sign of a great game that you have to tear yourself away to get some sleep, I pretty much had to be surgically removed a couple of nights. Unfortunately it was only a couple of nights, if it wasn't for being a little short this would be my choice for PC game of year 2005 without doubt, it's still a very strong contender.
- Excellent A.I.
- Involving story line
- Excellent graphics
- Great use of sound
Not so good stuff
- A little short
- Vehicles don't look great