Gamingnext


Review: Call of Duty (PC)

Posted in Action,PC,Reviews by Shawn Wallace on 29 2003f October 2003

With the impending release of Call of Duty there has been many rumblings in the PC gaming world, namely that of gamers who say ‘we’ve had enough of WWII, why another title?’. Well, I can tell you why … because Call of Duty ups the ante when it comes to WWII shooters. The game uses the venerable Quake III engine yet it looks fabulous. The voice acting is top notch and, I dare say, the gameplay pushes the limits of the WWII shooter. Read on to see what I mean.

If you’ve played any FPS game in the last three years there will be hardly any learning curve for you. All of the controls come pre-mapped in the most common configuration and, with a couple minor tweaks, you’ll be on your way. The interface is very straightforward and easy to use.

Even though Call of Duty uses the Quake III engine, the graphics and audio is top notch. The range at which both sound and visuals can be adjusted will ensure that players with lower-end systems will still be able to participate in the carnage.

More than once, during the game, there is almost complete audio overload and I’m not talking about bad coding or an underpowered sound card. I’m saying so much is happening with bullets wizzing, artillery shells impacting all around you, soldiers shouting and dying, it’s almost too much to take in. However, this truly helps to add to the all-out war feeling of the game, giving players that very small feeling of ‘how can I survive?’ It’s not all about aim here, kids. Keep your heads down.

Weapon selection in the game is fairly standard (no shotguns though!) and won’t blow anyone’s doors off. You have your bolt action rifles, your automatics and your sniper rifles. I don’t remember, one time, using my pistol in the single player portion as there always seemed to be just enough ammo. Aiming is movement related so attempting to run and fire will find your aim to be far worse. However, even when I was at full sprint with the Thompson I could hold down the trigger and firing at full auto still hit a majority of targets. Chalk it up to a great American automatic rifle.

The single player portion of Call of Duty consists of three campaigns. During these campaigns you’ll take part in sets of missions as Americans, the British and Russians. The climax of the game revisits each of these campaigns for a final hurrah and, let me say, I feel the ending of the game is solid and on target. Very satisfying.

I won’t really focus on the storyline for the single player campaigns too much but I will divulge that the American campaign was strongly influenced by the HBO WWII drama mini-series ‘Band of Brothers’ and the Russian campaign has many similar moments to the WWII sniper duel flick called ‘Enemy at the Gates’ with Jude Law and Ed Harris. Don’t take this the wrong way, they didn’t make these scenarios identical to these movies but their influence if very apparent to those familiar with Band of Brothers and Enemy at the Gates.

The storyline and single player action is presented with scripted sequences and progresses in a fairly linear fashion but all in all it’s still good fun. I hear many a gamer complain that games aren’t more ‘open ended’ but when you get a title such as Call of Duty that is attempting to re-create a cinematic feel I think it’d be quite difficult to do so and still be non-linear. I felt the missions had a nice variation to them and the scripted sequences worked fine.

The enemy artificial intelligence is convincing but I believe enemy AI has been done better. They’re pretty good at ducking and dodging but I found more than once all I had to do was wait for my enemies to lose their patience and charge blindly into combat. Granted, this wasn’t always the case, especially with scripted sequences and, more than once, I felt Call of Duty had a case of the ‘phantom spawnings’, i.e. enemies that came from nowhere (not nowhere, actually, but from a location I had cleared just moments before) but this was a rare case or two and really doesn’t affect the game overall.

To re-touch on the single player campaign, the mission variety is well done and ensures you won’t be doing the exact same things over and over. There are a couple ‘rail’ sequences involving you riding in a car or truck and providing cover fire while the driver does his duty. These sequences are done well and help advance the storyline and provide that tense feeling that the mission you are on is vital to the cause.

Difficulty during the single player does seem to spike occasionally. You may glide along comfortably for a mission or two only to hit a mission that requires a quickload several times in a row just to ensure you get things right. Then you may glide along a little while longer and BAM more over the top than you can handle. Perhaps this was the developer’s intent but I thought the difference was a tad extreme.

The single player campaigns are pretty short and you can defeat the game in just a few hours. Don’t let that dissuade you, however. Infinity Ward has done a fine job including a polished multiplayer component that will add hours upon hours of enjoyment to this title.

Your main game types in the multiplayer component are (of course) deathmatch and team deathmach but a few new types are introduced. Retrieval finds one team attempting to retrieve a certain item while the other team defends said item. Search and Destroy is fairly obvious; one team attempts to destroy an item while the other team defends. Finally, Behind Enemy Lines finds players participating in an onslaught of another team of fewer players. If a player from offensive team kills a player from the defensive team (which has fewer players) the killer takes the role of a defensive team member. This really helps to create a fun sense of urgency to the whole debacle and makes for some great gameplay. No time to be a sniper when it comes to the Behind Enemy Lines gametype, you’d just better hope your automatic rifle skills are up to snuff.

Overall I feel that Call of Duty is a great addition to the WWII shooter family. The single player has an epic feel and, even though the game is rather short, Infinity Ward has done a great job including hours of gameplay via the multiplayer component.

FINAL SCORE: 89/100 : REVIEWER: SHAWN WALLACE

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