Call of Duty 2 Xbox 360 Review
Call of Duty originally ran on the Quake 3 engine when its roots were seeded in the PC community. I still remember the day when I first played Call of Duty in 2003. The passion and dedication of Infinity War certainly was clear. It was so clear that when one of my squad mates went down, I felt the need to get retribution on their behalf. Moments this gratifying were experienced all throughout Call of Duty was a one in a life time sensation when you compare it to the other World War II shooters.
Now it’s 2005 (a year after the expansion, United Offensive, released) and not only will there be a PC version of Call of Duty 2, but the Xbox 360 translation is being released only a month later. Some may be thinking, “Wait, Call of Duty is already on the consoles, what’s the big deal?”. I’ll tell you what the big deal is, the console iterations (Xbox, PS2, Cube) pale in comparison to the PC and now Xbox 360 variants. What’s the difference? Just check the graphics, which should be the first indicator to prove the graphics overhaul.
Call of Duty 2 will pit you in the shoes of a few different uniforms all fighting for the Allies. You’ll start off as one of the lowest ranks (private) in the Russian Army. As the private, you’ll be entering and invading the battlefields of Moscow and Stalingrad. The enemy you ask? Of course, it’s those dang German Nazis again. After you take care of the Germans with the tough Russians, you’ll unlock the British campaign. The British campaign is a tad more difficult due to you’ll be in North Africa, somewhere no one wanted to be in the war. The last campaign you’ll unlock is of course the American campaign. The American campaign takes its course through the cliffs of Europe for the D-Day landing.
There are only ten missions to traverse through unfortunately. It could be more of a blessing than a curse. Who would want to play the similar missions over and over again in a setting that has been lived in several other FPS’s. What I recommend doing right off the bat is anteing up the difficulty. Not only will it create a better environment for the warfare, but it will increase how long the game takes to complete. On the regular difficulty, it will only last somewhere in the range of 8-12 hours.
The enemy A.I. does put up a good fight even on the regular difficulty. If you’re crouching down popping out from behind a bunker every few seconds, they’ll soon spot you and advance to your position. If this is the case, don’t worry as your squad mates also have great A.I. Often times I noticed that they went off in their own direction to flank the enemies. The smart A.I. on both behalves makes up for one unique game to play. If you want the A.I. to have even more comprehension of war, just crank up the difficulty. The harder difficulties are probably what the designer intended on for Call of Duty 2 to be played on.
For dramatic changes between the original and the sequel, there are a few that stick out like a sore thumb. You’ll notice right away that there is no health bar. That’s correct, no more health bar to aid you on your journey through the towns of Europe. If you are skeptical, you have no reason to worry as Call of Duty 2 plays excellently without the health bar. Replacing the health bar is a far more technical experience that is enjoyable. When you are taking fire from the opposition, you’ll notice the screen to become red and blink as you become wounded. If you take too much damage in a short span of time, time to start over of course. When you hear your character becoming increasingly tired and red fills up the borders of your screen, that’s your fair warning to get the hell out of there.
Is this a huge difference between the first Call of Duty? For me it is; no longer did I have to hunt down health packs and trek back through the levels for more health. Some may cry fowl as it could be a deciding factor of how the game is played. No longer will you have the advantage of health over your enemies but it will be more on your tactics of hit and run. If you don’t know what I mean, just take a look at the Halo to Halo 2 transition. In Halo 1, the health was a big part of strategies as you had to find the packs to insure that your death wasn’t inevitable. In Halo 2 though, if you take a few hits, just run away and your shield will recharge again as if there was no harm done.
Back on track though, does Call of Duty 2 feel like a game more for wimps? I mean with the factor of being able to run away after taking hits and your health charging back up, there has to be wishy-washy methods that people are taking to avoid combat, right? That’s correct, no longer are the tactics to battle it out and the best man wins, but the hit and run tactic is more logical due to you’ll gain the health back in no time. Though I must admit, through the campaign, I enjoyed the ‘no health pack’ gameplay over the ‘search and find health pack’ method. But squarely focusing on multiplayer, people will find it annoying as your enemies run off gathering themselves again instead of squaring up and taking the battle to you.
What else is new? Let’s see… the smoke grenades! Not technically new but they play a huge part in the game now. Throwing a smoke grenade will help advance your troops on the battlefield without heavy resistance. What’s even better about the smoke grenades is running through the smoke cloud you have created. During one instance, I was blazing through the cloud ready to unload on an unexpected Nazi but what I found was the blunt end of a gun as I was hit hard without any caution. I thought I was on the upper hand but rather the enemies were advancing through the smoke cloud too and ready to take it to my squad.
After all this talk, I am sure many are ready to hear about the multiplayer aspects of Call of Duty 2. Well, have no fear; Call of Duty 2 is all around solid online. Still offering the standard deathmatch modes (team deathmatch included), capture-the-flag modes and the search-and-destory modes, Call of Duty 2 does introduce a new mode for all the fans. The mode is called headquarters and is among the best additions in the sequel. Headquarters is similar to Battlefield modes where you capture a particular point on the map and can spawn from there. There’s more to the mode though than I first anticipated. There are only two points on the map that you must try and capture. You must set up your headquarters at one of those bases to gain points that increase over time. Only one base can be set up at a time and once you set up your base, you’ll no longer be able to respawn until your HQ is overrun and two new capture points are on the map again. The Headquarters mode is fantastic and the strategies for this are going to be varied for every team. I recommend you play this first as you’ll be immediately addicted to Call of Duty 2 afterwards.
What Call of Duty 2 lacks for Xbox Live is lobbies Halo 2-esque. After a match, you’ll be sent to the front screen to pick Ranked or Player Match. Player matches aren’t ranked and you can invite your friends into the match. When playing with six or more players, you will encounter some lag problems mostly due to the host of the match. You can tell the host of the match easily since the ping will be “0” for them. If the host isn’t on a good connection, be prepared for lag that will not lessen until someone drops. If someone is in the process of dropping, it will begin to lag also. Sporting 13 achievements which are all offline based. They could have added some online achievements to reward you for how many kills you could amount in one match and how many headshots you are able to snipe with. Those little things aren’t something that drags down the game, just something that the developers can look towards in the future. 1000 points can be added for your GamerScore completing all the achievements for Call of Duty 2, so that’s a hefty amount if you are looking to increase your GamerScore online.
For those that are curious how the graphics turned out for the Xbox 360 version I must say it doesn’t disappoint. The smoke effects are the biggest element that stands out in my mind. You get the sense that you are lost at times within this smoke cloud and have no idea of the objects in front of you until they run right up to you and smack you with the back of their gun (happened more than one time I must admit). All the explosions excel and prove to use the Xbox 360 graphics raw power when compared to the PC version. This isn’t a step down at all; it runs smoothly and is at times better than its PC brethren. The PC version had a few complications with the frame rate and on the Xbox 360 version, I encountered none. The environments (indoor and outdoor) all scream for you to search through them all and see the effort put forth to create this fantastic game.
The sound does an even better job than the graphics. This is expected though since Call of Duty 1’s sound was of the award-winning caliber. To go along with the beautiful special effects is sound to every one of them. The sound increases how much it really feels like you are doing something important within this gigantic war. The score is great as it peaks at the right moments to heighten the excitement you are going through for taking down a small squadron of Nazis that were standing in your way from entering a new building that contained important documents.
This is the game you’ll want to buy if you want to wow your friends. I have Perfect Dark Zero and it just isn’t cutting it to keep my friend’s attention. They wanted something realistic and Call of Duty 2 is giving it to them. Experiencing the game in full surround sound and on a HDTV; that’s the experience that everyone needs to have for their first Xbox 360 moment. I have heard comments such as “that sounds so real, like they are firing their gun right behind you” to “I can feel their heartbeat”. What they mean by feeling their heartbeat is when you are sniping; you can press the left thumbstick in to hold your breath for a better shot. It helps tremendously due to that when you are sniping, breathing will affect how steady you hold your gun.
Call of Duty 2 may not feel like a brand new experience if you have played the original but I am confident that it will fit perfectly into your Xbox 360 launch plans if you want a realistic first-person shooter. It allows up to sixteen players to take the battle online and delivers on all accounts a satisfying WWII shooter. If you do happen to have Xbox Live (which I hope every Xbox 360 owner at least attempts to get), go immediately to the ‘headquarters’ mode and play that to death. I will be there waiting for some new opponents.