Top positive review
32 people found this helpful
been there done that? not like this you haven't
on 20 December 2005
While we’ve all played through World War 2 so many times we can throw our history books away by now, and while we’re all probably getting a little sick of these games, the fact remains that the best WW2 games out there are some of the greatest fps games on the market. And while sticking to the ‘if It ain’t broke, make loads and loads of them’ gaming maxim may make this World War 2 First Person Shooter sequel to game of the year Call of Duty feel a little too familiar, this is a game which blends utterly frantic, frenetic action with great visuals and a perfect atmosphere to create one of the most intense gaming experiences of 2005.
Call of duty 2 follows the story (there isn’t really an actual story itself – we all know the deal anyhow) of soldiers fighting for the British, American and Russian armies. You start the Russian campaign as a raw recruit, throwing potatoes into boxes because grenades are too expensive, but before you can even finish your training, the area is flooded with German troops. Immediately you’re thrown into the thick of it, into what the game is all about; intense urban shootouts between large numbers of soldiers. There are tons of enemies, and you have lots of friendly soldiers fighting with you, and more replace the ones who die spawning offscreen and running to your position; this is a game where you genuinely feel in the thick of war. The firefights are so amazing, most shooters only have one or two of this kind of quality throughout their entire length, every single level in CoD2 plays out with this level of intensity and quality.
The Russian missions see you fighting brutal territory battles in the streets of Stalingrad, the highlight probably a charge on a well defended building which you then have to defend yourself, dozens of enemies storming at you at once, and as a tank arrives you have to charge out and take it down. Finishing the first proper Russian mission opens up the British campaign, which takes place mostly in Africa. These missions play out largely in the same style – with a few twists. Some missions see you manning a tank in a convoy of tanks pushing forward against German armour positions. It’s pretty great. Progress eventually opens up the Americans’, and it’s absolutely amazingly ace. The firefights are so intense, you often find yourself simply overwhelmed, fire raining from all sides; yet somehow you survive and push forward, only to be pushed back. Playing CoD2 is a draining experience; the game is so intense.
While very familiar to FPS players, CoD2 has a few neat touches that do set it apart from the crowd. For one, there are no health packs any more, you recover by taking cover and sitting still for a few moments. My first thoughts were ‘yeah, because being quiet and sitting still is an excellent cure for mortal wounds!’, but it works well in-game, you never find yourself at a hard spot without health and it’s no more contrived than running over a healthpack to jump to max health. Imagine the halo shield system minus the healthbar, it’s that kind of vibe.
CoD2’s AI is no better than most other games out there, but a very smart touch is that your AI teammates advance and retreat when you do. This means you can stage effective charges against gun nests and clusters of soldiers, especially combined with the awesome smoke bombs which both look ace and offer great cover for charges. It’s a pretty amazing rush to charge through the smoke – literally unable to see anything besides your own gun – to emerge on the other side of the smokescreen, face to face with a dozen rifles. Of course, thanks to the AI, you have a dozen rifles behind you; bloodbath ensues. Moments like this happen all the time and it’s what makes CoD2 so great. It’s no one-man army here.
Visually the game looks remarkably like a much more polished version of the original CoD, which is pretty much what it is – but that’s not to say it doesn’t look great. The character models are especially lovely and the smoke is simply stunning. There are much better looking games out there, but considering how many models there often are onscreen at once, this is an impressive achievement. The sound is also pretty great – all the weapons sound real and pack a satisfying punch, your fellow soldiers shout constantly – which is great for the atmosphere – and there’s a neat cinematic style musical score. Running the game on a AMD 4200+, Geforce 7800gtx and 1gb corsair RAM, the game ran at a constant 25ish fps no matter what was happening onscreen – with the visuals maxed out.
It’s difficult to find fault with the game really; the obvious big one – it’s way too short, ranging between 10 and 15 hours depending on the difficulty you play on, plus the game feels a little overly linear and scripted at times – but it’s far too amazing and intense (first time round) for this to really detract from the experience. While the naysayers may complain that we’ve been here and done that, here has never looked quite so good and that has never been quite as jawdroppingly, adrenaline-pumpingly intense as Call of Duty 2 – by far one of the best single player experiences of 2005.