Most helpful critical review
COD 2: Big Red One (Classic Xbox)
on 25 April 2014
Big Red One is a game that allows you to play in the boots of a soldier in the U.S Army First Infantry Division, known as the Big Red One for their distinctive arm-patch. They were also known as the Fighting First, and had a fearsome reputation. As the game shows, it was rightly deserved - the Big Red One was a critical part in the most major battles of WW2, from the African Campaign to the invasion of Italy leading up to D-Day itself.
As soon as I settled down with this game, I was captured, as I was normally with any Call of Duty game. The shooting was great, the sound effects made me feel like I was really there, and the overall feel of warfare was very nice. It was soon apparent that the game had a few flaws, which I'll cover in a moment. These flaws could be frustrating at times, and sometimes the game felt like Treyarch had rushed to get it completed. Overall, however, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The graphics in this game are stupendously good, if not perfect. You can see the rust in the paint on tanks and smoking craters from mortar shells look very realistic. The explosions are awe-inspiring - I had to fight the urge not to stand up in real life and cheer with my men as a tank blew into a column of fire right in front of me. The particle and smoke effects are very well done, and there's nothing that quite beats seeing bullets ricochet off your cover, sending up small clouds of dust. All in all, the graphics are amazing, and will make you feel certainly on at least one level that you are really there.
However, the animations on soldiers look goofy at times, especially when they are hunched over and running - this could have used some work. Still, that's only a minor thing, and it's not really something that detracts from the enjoyment of the game.
The tracers on weapons, especially the .50 caliber machine gun, don't look realistic at times, seeming oversized and almost traveling too slowly. Sometimes, especially in a night scene, it looks like your machine gun has spontaneously turned into a laser. Still, it's not really noticeable, and like the animation, it's not really something that detracts too much from the game.
As with all Call of Duty games, the sound is near-perfect. Bullets ricochet, men yell as they're cut apart by bullets, and the desperate shouts of men under fire and mortar shells exploding everywhere capture the feel of war extremely well. Your squad leaders yell commands to panicked troops as tanks roll by and bullets impact everywhere. The "ping" sound as an M1 Garand rifle ejects it's clip is very realistic, and a lot of attention to detail was paid. The sound is amazing.
However, some guns, like the M1 Carbine, don't really sound powerful - they sound very weak sometimes. However, yet again, like the tracers and animation, it's not really something that detracts too much from the game. (I've gotta stop saying that...)
Now, let me get this out of the way: The game is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G here. It WILL make you feel like YOU are in Sicily fighting against Italian troops, it WILL make you think if you stick your head around the corner YOUR head will be shot off, NOT your AI player. Warfare is realistic. Moving from cover to cover as you try to evade machine gun blasts, firing at enemies in the distance with precise shots, diving for cover as a grenade clangs to the ground nearby, it's all great. Having enemy soldiers attacking a position you're holding is probably one of the best experiences you'll have in the game - it's awesome shooting a charging soldier while prone and watching him crash to the ground inches in front of you, stone dead. They captured the feel of what warfare in that era would be like extraordinarily well.
Unfortunately, the game has some shortcomings.
First of all, let's single out on the AI. The AI can be very dumb sometimes, which is surprising giving the AI track record of Call of Duty. Sometimes they won't even notice you're firing at them from their flank even after you shoot one of them in the gut and throw a grenade in their midst. While in Call of Duty 1 enemy troops used very nice tactics, these soldiers don't move much at all. They stand there, firing, letting you pick them off. The only time they really do move is when they're attacking a location you're in. Still, the AI can be quite smart at other times, too - sometimes they seem very realistic, tossing grenades and diving for cover, leaning out to cover another group of soldiers as they advance, etc. Whatever the case, overall the AI is disappointingly poor, but not horribly, horribly bad.
Now, here's another thing: sometimes killing an enemy can be very aggravating. More often than not, when you shoot someone, he crumples to the ground in pain. You think he's dead, but in the next second he gets up again and starts shooting. And you have to shoot him again. Now, it's pretty cool to shoot someone while they're writing on the ground, but this can be aggravating, and it happens WAY too much, namely almost every time. And the main concern is when you think an enemy's dead, but he gets up again just as you turn your back, and you've got about 0.1% health left... see where I'm going? The problem is, they need to seem more ALIVE when they crumple to the ground, as they look almost exactly like they would if they were dead, barely moving at all until they start to get up a few seconds later. Plenty more polish could have been used here.
Still, even with these flaws, the game is superb, and this didn't stop me from enjoying it - but it DID get frustrating at times. This probably isn't the game you want if you're angry and need a distraction - it'll just frustrate you more.
The campaign can be played differently in a number of small, different ways (like most first person shooters), and I always found it fun to go back and play levels I already did. The game held quite a bit of replay value for me. Whatever the case, it depends ultimately on the gamer, but this game will likely hold a good amount of appeal for a good amount of time for you.
Though the game does have it's flaws, needs polish, and ultimately seems a little rushed, I enjoyed it quite a bit. Playing as a soldier of the Big Red One was very enjoyable, and the realism of the game is definitely up to Call of Duty standards.
Some gamers might prefer a more polished title and it's probably best to get the measure of it before buying. However, if you don't mind a few flaws and are looking for a good WW2 first person shooter, this is probably a good game for you.