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A little disappointing
on 4 December 2005
For a supposedly next-gen title, I found Call of Duty 2 a little disappointing. The graphics are fantastic when static, but that just makes the problems when they are in motion even more glaring. The most obvious flaw is that there is no smooth transition between low and high detail textures. The sharp textures just pop up in place of the fuzzy textures really obviously as you walk towards them. What's worse is that this is distracting, because objects seem to change shape - the wheels on a van for example look totally different in the low and high res versions of the texture and this means that the eye is drawn to the apparent movement when the texture changes and this distracts you from the guy about to kill you.
Other graphical annoyances are the way dead enemies just pop out of existance after a while - even when you are looking directly at them. This just ruins your sense of immersion. At least the programmers should have waited until you are looking in a different direction or have walked further along the road before cleaning up.
The game is the standard Medal of Honor / Call of Duty fare. Very linear with no particular new innovations or insights into the formula. For example there is no addition of a split-screen co-op mode, despite this game relying heavily on you being part of a team of people. Not much additional balancing to levels would have to have been required for this feature to be added.
The only significant change is a major retrograde step in my opinion. There is now no health meter and no health pickups. All you have to do when you are hurt is move away from the action and miraculously you recover (a la Halo). This substantially changes the method of play. In the old MoH/CoD games, it was important to move forward carefully killing guys at range where possible in order to preserve your health. Now the approved tactic is to charge in, do some damage and then run back around a corner to 'recharge', repeat ad infinitem, ad nauseum. Now which method sounds more realistic?
For all that though, CoD2 is quite a fun game and does have some impressive features - the enemy AI is quite cool and the sound design is excellent, from the weapon sounds to the sound of brushing past a bush, I've never had a game sound so good. Your squadmates can also give you some genuinely usefull hints 'He's on the second floor of the grey building', 'Enemy troops behind the trolly', etc. However their stock phrases are appalling limited - if I hear 'I got one, Vasili!' once more, I think my Wireless controller will be thrown at the speakers!. These stock phrases are also over-used meaning that important messages can get lost in the chatter. I suppose that this simulates the confusion of a battle, but it is rather annoying.
I just can't help thinking I am stuck in a timewarp, playing the same MoH game over and over since 2002 with slightly better graphics and sound effects each time.