Aug 22 2009
It was almost with regret that I finished the original Call of Duty. I enjoyed the squad-based combat without all the tactical faffing that games like Full Spectrum Warrior and Hidden & Dangerous engage in. You charge in and chances are you’ll die, but your support will be right behind you, engaging the enemy and watching your back.
Call of Duty 2 is the Half-Life 2 of World War 2. Carefully scripted situations, usually resulting in bottle-neck confrontations are wrapped around a much tighter mission structure than the original. Though the game moves the player through a linear plot, because of the squad-based gameplay it doesn’t seem to matter, you follow your team-mates and your sergeant’s instructions because they make sense and that’s just what you would do in that situation.
The game once again cycles you through different characters, in different battles and from different countries. Always fighting ze Germans. You’ll play the Battle of Stalingrad as a raw, Russian recruit in the freezing cold of winter, fight against Rommel across the blazing sands of North Africa and as a US Army Ranger in the Battle of Normandy.
Both the original and the sequel simulate the harshness of war very well – though this is no Saving Private Ryan – you see your computer-controlled compatriots dropping like flies around you. And they die in all manner of ways. Snipers, tank shells, grenades, close combat and just plain, old bullets.
In a move to balance some of the game’s difficulty without breaking the immersion, Call of Duty 2 has done away with health packs entirely. If you’re badly hit, seek cover and you will be fine. Of course if you stand on a grenade, you can expect to be meeting the grim reaper but otherwise it’s possible to recover from most attacks.
A new feature of the game comes when you first get a sniper rifle. Zoom in and steady your aim with the Shift key, the noise of battle fades and you can hear your heart beating. With an enemy helmet firmly in your sights you squeeze the trigger and watch him drop like a stone. Your gun recoils and you steady again, tracking across the battlefield.
As well as ‘regular’ combat you also have the chance to drive a tank and man both an anti-aircraft gun and a half-track. In addition you will often be ordered to plant explosives, either to disable a tank or spectacularly destroy a building!Graphically, the game is excellent. Bombed-out French villages, war-torn Stalingrad and African towns are rendered believably and in incredible detail. Spot effects like sun-flare and smoke are not overdone but add to the battlefield experience.
The sound effects are unbelievable, layer upon layer surround you – shouting voices, rumbling tanks, whistling shells, a grenade’s muffled crump, crack of a rifle, the dat-dat-dat of machine guns all come together for an audio experience like no other game.Regular difficulty should prove little challenge to experienced FPS players but Hardened is another story. There are choke points of intense difficulty, particularly those where you have to hold a position until reinforcements arrive.
As in the previous games, Infinity Ward have hired some really good voice actors. In the first game, Jason Statham (Snatch & The Transporter) provided the voice of one of your mates and Call of Duty 2 has gone to town again. Each nationality, though speaking in English, has the correct accent and have an enormous range of voices. You even get to know some of the non-player characters in the game – especially the friendly banter between the sergeant and McDougall as they try and get the half-track started in the North Africa campaign.
“I’m trying sir, but the instructions are all in German!”
“For god’s sake man, turn the wheel and press the pedal!”
“Oh, right, thankyou sir – that’s very helpful!”