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Sunday, December 25, 2005

Call of Duty 2 (Xbox 360) - Review

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Call of Duty 2 (Xbox 360) - Review

"If you’re only going to get one game for your Xbox 360, go for Call of Duty 2.

With Quake IV, Perfect Dark Zero and Call of Duty 2, the Xbox 360 certainly has some decent FPS launch titles, but if you ask me, Call of Duty 2 is the real must-have title among them. Infinity Ward has created the best console shooter to date, and because of the advanced Xbox 360 hardware, the game actually runs better on Microsoft’s new console than on anything but the most high-end gaming PCs today.

Call of Duty 2 is a direct port of the PC game of the same name (or actually it may be the other way round), and therefore I won’t concentrate that much on explaining the game itself, but instead focus on how it plays on the Xbox 360.

A 27-mission war

Essentially, Call of Duty 2 contains a single-player part with three campaigns spread out over 27 individual missions, and a multiplayer part over Xbox Live, for up to eight players (one of the few disappointments).

The missions take place in Russia, Northern Africa and Normandy. Like in the first Call of Duty, the Russian missions are stellar, and they give you such an authentic feeling of actually participating in a war that it ought to count as national service. But surprisingly, the American missions in the latter part of the game are actually even better. And sadly the English missions are the weakest (once again, I’m tempted to say), even though there are no Rambo-esque shenanigans this time around.

There are always fellow soldiers fighting by your side, so the game practically never leaves you on your own. If they get shot, new ones will rush in, which sometimes ruins the illusion a bit, but on the higher difficulty settings, you’ll be highly grateful for their presence.

Real men use controllers

Call of Duty 2 doesn’t cheat as much as other console shooters. The opponents are ruthless, and won’t give you the typical two-second reaction window before they start shooting at you. There aren’t fewer enemies here than in the PC version either.
Therefore, you must equal your keyboard and mouse skills with the controller. PC FPS veterans will immediately balk at this idea and say it isn’t possible, while waving their “won’t it come out for the PC?” signs around and checking the status of their Bittorrent download. But it is, because Infinity Wars has been rather brilliant. I played on the Veteran difficulty setting, in order to unlock the many Xbox Live achievements, and at this level, there’s no mercy. Two or three shots, and you’re gone. The Germans have supernatural reflexes. There are enemies all over the place. Yet still, I never felt myself to be in trouble because I was using a controller.

Thanks to an enormous piece of work on the controls (Infinity Ward has supposedly tested thousands of settings to get it right), you will never be unable to get your cursor on target. You can trigger a discreet auto-aim function on the left trigger, but it is far from foolproof. If the enemy moves, you must aim again. There are other nice details such as the way you control your grenades with the two new shoulder buttons." [more]

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