Call of Duty 3 Review

The Call of Duty franchise is one that has seemingly gone from strength to strength, mainly thanks to the great team at Infinity Ward who have constantly tried to keep things fresh and original. What better way to make sure the series keeps up that tradition by handing the game over to a different developer? It’s not that TreyArch don’t have some experience with the franchise as they were involved with Call of Duty: The Big Red One but that game hardly set the world alight. Coupled with the fact that their only other 360 project is the below-par Spiderman 3 then it’s hard to see why they would be thought of as the ideal candidates to run with such an illustrious series – especially when Call of Duty 2 was one of the best selling launch titles.

The problem with this game stems mainly from the fact it feels as though it is merely a cheap copy of what made the first two games in the series so good, as if the developers have played through those games and taken the bits they liked best then stuffed them into this game. You still take on the role of a variety of allied soldiers, though this time they have decided to include stints in less well known forces from Poland and Canada in order to mix things up. It’s a nice touch considering the fact most people seem to see WWII as a British and U.S. fought war, but really adds very little in the grand scheme of things. Unlike previous entries in the series with multiple viewpoints, the story here is set against one campaign with all of the troops taking parts in a variety of missions that make up the offensive as a whole.

When all else fails use a REALLY big gun.

The story centres around the Normandy breakout with the allied forces pushing deeper into France, and there are thirteen missions on offer spread between the four contingents. While the game tries to instill a bit of variety it all feels far too repetitive and the missions don’t really feel any different from one another. Whether you are defusing bombs with American troops, aiding the French resistance alongside the British or capturing an industrial site with Canadians it all feels much the same. The reason for this is probably more to do with the Call of Duty game mechanic of constantly re-spawning enemies, as unless you are continually pushing forward you will find the number of enemies limitless. Which means the game boils down to a case of advance, find cover and advance again to more cover. While it seemed fairly innovative in Call of Duty 2 it just seems annoying here.

While the game plays fairly well with the same intuitive controls for weapons and grenades that you would expect, it never seems to break new ground, though at least having four separate forces at your disposal means you have a varied range of equipment to use. The health system is the now standard one of recoverable damage, assuming you can take cover from your attackers soon enough. The game is totally linear though with very little to see or do other than the mission at hand, while some of the set piece missions on offer make this approach seem worthwhile it does mean that there are very few opportunities to flank or surprise your opponents in any way. The only addition seems a strange one, as at certain points Quick Time Events will kick in to see you overcome certain obstacles. A few button presses will see you beat up a German soldier or plant some explosives, but it seems completely out of place in a first person shooter.

Place your bets now. My money’s on the tank.

Part of the problem also comes in the form of the A.I. on offer, as the number of times you’ll line up a shot only to have an ally wander in front of you at the last second is tantamount to criminal. Did I mention the fact that killing an ally results in instant mission failure? Put the two together and you can see why frustration will soon creep in. The enemy A.I will also ALWAYS target you ahead of your team mates and can magically shoot you by sticking their guns through walls. If that had been true in the actual war then things might have turned out a lot different. It’s an annoying glitch and one that rears its head far too often resulting in death when you are seemingly in cover. There seems to be far too many minor bugs to really say that the game has been thoroughly tested and the whole campaign feels rather rushed and patchy.

At least some kudos has been restored with the multiplayer aspect of the game, as now 24 players can engage in online combat at any one time. There’s very little originality on show with game types like Capture the Flag, Deathmatch and War all having reared their heads before in one form or another but at least it has all been done very well. The games run pretty much lag free with the only major problem being actually finding enough players to get a decent game going. The game has also taken a leaf from Battlefield's cap with the introduction of specific character classes that players can choose between. Each of the classes has their own unique ability; medics can revive fallen comrades, scouts can call in artillery and so on. It makes games a little more tactical and having a good mix of classes is crucial.

In the back, now that’s just mean.

The game at least looks and feels like a war title should, with smoky battlefields suddenly giving way to a hail of bullets and explosions as you charge towards the enemy. The graphical glitches do detract somewhat especially as they are so often linked to your imminent demise, but I suppose you can look on the plus side that enemies can be spotted more easily if their gun is sticking through the wall they are hid behind. Scant consolation for a flaw that should have been spotted long before the game hit the shelves. It’s also a pain that you can’t skip past cut scenes, especially if you are only replaying a level for achievements or similar, and that you can only have one save going at any one time. It would surely have been a simple matter to let players have multiple saves ongoing at any one time in order, for example, to allow them to start a game on an easier difficulty and then continue a previously saved Veteran game at a later date. Sadly that’s not the case.

The achievements on offer here go from one extreme to the other. All of the single player achievements can be grabbed in one play through on Veteran difficulty, though it would be recommended that less skilled players try and get achievements for completing levels with minimal damage and only melee kills on an easier setting. The Veteran difficulty will consume a lot of your time due to a number of frustrating missions and dubious A.I. so it’s hardly a walk in the park but should be attainable with a bit of effort. Online is a completely different affair, with a few relatively simple achievements for healing and supplying team mates as well as being the best in a ranked game. Pretty much what you’d expect until you look at the rank achievements, requiring you to get a whopping 40,000 points to attain the ultimate goal of General. A task made even more annoying by the amount of time it takes to get a game started never mind amassing the points you need. It’s hard to see many people aiming for this legitimately.

Superb sound effects and allies help to make this game at least feel like an actual war.

The visuals are pretty good but not much of an improvement on Call of Duty 2 which was a launch title. The annoying way that your enemies can shoot you by sticking their guns THROUGH a wall is also highly annoying.

Fun enough but nothing you haven’t seen before and the Veteran campaign is still highly frustrating and annoying in places. A constant struggle to find online opponents is also a major pain.

A bog standard war game that looks nice enough but is sorely lacking in originality, doesn’t even surpass its predecessors in any way. At least it looks and sounds nice enough but that’s not enough to pull it through.

The achievements are a mix of pretty simple single player fare and drawn out online number crunching. You should be able to get all of the offline achievements with minimal effort though the Veteran campaign will cause a few annoyances, but unless you know likeminded friends the 40,000 points required for the General achievement will be a step too far.

A game that feels more like a copy than a continuation of the series, plus the fact that the online never really took off means that it’s only worth a solitary playthrough at best. At least we can take solace in the fact that after this poor showing they got things spectacularly right for the fourth Call of Duty.

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