War may be Hell, but the folks at Activision sure know how to make it fun. CoD 3 takes gamers back into the devastated towns and rural fields of WWII era Europe, and the series’ cinematic formula comes through yet again.
There are a lot of World War II games on the market, but Call of Duty has always been the best at immersing players into the game. The battlegrounds are alive, as gunfire and explosions are happening everywhere. Though you’ll kill a lot of Germans on your own, you always feel like you’re part of an army in a grand war. Since I don’t claim to have fought in a war myself I can’t tell you how realistic the series actually is. However, I did see Saving Private Ryan, and this series is at the very least faithful to Spielberg’s depiction of war.
Call of Duty 3 focuses on the Normandy Breakout campaign. Besides American and Germans, the game’s got the English, the Scottish, the French, and even the (gasp) Canadians. But whatever…let’s talk gameplay instead.
Shooter fans should be very happy with CoD 3. The level design is superb as always, mixing outdoor and indoor environments, and even incorporates a good amount of vehicular combat, both at the wheel and behind the guns. The action is always intense, and it’s easy to forget yourself in the combat. The controls follow the FPS standard formula, and are very intuitive in that sense.
New in this edition are close combat segments in which the player must essentially wrestle with the enemy to gain the edge and then land a decisive blow. From a cinematic perspective these are cool, but the controls here were programmed like a button-mashing track and field video game. You might consider doing some finger stretches so you don’t hurt yourself.
CoD 3's play is not without its flaws, however. There are a few places in the environment where your soldier seems to get snagged and must find an illogical alternate route to escape. I’ve also faced instances in which members of my team have gotten temporarily stuck pushing through a tight spot and essentially run in place until they figured a path through. A little more testing could have gone a long way in polishing these rough spots, but it doesn’t happen often enough to really frustrate.
Visually, the environments and soldiers are rendered very realistically. The developer did a great job at capturing all the grit of war—CoD 3 is not nearly as squeaky-clean as, say, Perfect Dark Zero. That said, if you’d just been playing Gears of War, you might not exactly be blown away here. Also, some of the night levels felt a little murky, even on a HDTV running at 1080i.
The sound effects of gunfire, explosions, sirens, air raids and more are spot on and go a long way to immerse the player in the combat. Music is often incorporated in the game through radios playing in houses, another nice touch. The voice work is good for what it is—there’s a lot of fun accents and a lot of excited yelling. It generally adds to the realism, but sometimes the yells seemed out of place. Once, I entered a factory with big Nazi flags and my objective was to clear it of enemies. Sure enough, there were Nazis inside, but one of my buddies yelled out “Germans!!!” as if no one could have seen it coming.
The game lets up to four players do battle split screen, 24 players via system link or 24 on Xbox Live. All the standard FPS multiplayer modes are included, and it’s a nice change of pace from the single player campaign even if it’s not the most robust thing in the world. The game features a prominent link to the Marketplace and indicates that new maps and other goodies will be available for download in the future. Pretty sweet, I’d say.
Xbox 360 gamers looking for a great first-person shooter should look no further than Call of Duty 3. Granted, there a lot of World War II games out there, but CoD 3 is by far one of the best. Do it up.