Review by Npeaen
Wins on One Front, Loses Another
Call of Duty 2 is one of the many FPS games to be released at launch on the Xbox 360, while the game was already released on the PC a few months earlier, I'm not calling this game a port, as it was developed separately and at the same time, even if they are the same game. The game is almost identical except for a few strange quirks. More on that later.
Exceptional at a first glance. Everything looks amazing, the texturing, the bump mapping, the explosions, all of it helps to create the atmosphere that this is hell. The characters look a bit gritty, in some battles as you approach you can actual see fear on the soldiers faces, not to mention their apprehensive body movements. My personal favorite though is the smoke grenades, while looking a bit odd from a distance, once you actually get into the smoke cloud, it's beautiful, the smoke looks perfectly real, you can barely see anything around you, and what you can see is very difficult to make out. Also included are some nice effects such as Shell shock where if you're near a grenade when it goes off but you don't die from it, the sound fades out replaced by ringing in your ears, your guy can barely move and his vision gets incredibly blurry. However, below the surface the graphics start to falter a bit. When you actually get up close and personal with the graphics the texturing isn't really that good. It looks very, very blurry close up, but then again, if you're standing close enough to another soldier to see their pupils, that's probably a bad thing in the setting of war. There's also some noticeable clipping in some places in the multiplayer. Such as guns sticking through solid cover, or lying down in a building corner causing your feet to show up outside. The graphics are very nice for a 360 launch game, but now that we're nine months in, they aren't holding up very well.
Wow. That's all I really need to say about the audio. It's fan-freaking-tastic. Everything in the game sounds real. The guns sound great, the voice actors capture the feeling of the scene pretty well, explosions sound great, the Shell shock thing I mentioned earlier is also adding to the score here as well. More on the voice acting though, you of course get the occasional order from a superior office, and that's well acted of course, but the real stars of the show are your allies. They're constantly yelling, and thankfully it's never useless crap as a cheap trick to make you feel more like you're in the war. It's almost always informative, if somebody shouts ENEMY GRENADA! that means they see a grenade and you need to move. In fact, my only problem with the audio is you still have your usual assortment of idiots on Xbox live who feel that having a headset means everyone wants to hear them sing.
Your usual FPS fare. Right trigger fires, left thumbstick moves, the A button makes you jump, right thumbstick aims, X is reload, Y is change guns. A few major changes though from what became the standard FPS formula in the last generation though, and judging by titles so far on the 360, call of Duty 2's formula will become the standard(could also be credited to Perfect Dark Zero). The L trigger is zoom/use sights. Personally, with the 360 controller, I think this setup works great. Also B is now crouch instead of clicking the left thumbstick. I guess this works in games where you can both crouch and go prone, but I prefer the stick personally. The left stick is now binoculars, which is a feature that probably won't be appearing in too many other games, and I found myself using it in this one all of never. I can't recall ever using it during the game. Grenades are controlled by the shoulder buttons, which works pretty well, and finally, the right thumbstick controls melee attacks, another good place for this maneuver.
Always, Always, ALWAYS the most important part of a game. If you're going to read one part of a review, always read the part about gameplay. This game takes the standard FPS formula and messes with it a little. The majority of FPS games place you on the battlefield alone versus an entire army, and to make things a little fair, you're a walking tank. This game throws that out the window. This game places you in many different battles from WWII as an average soldier. You are not a walking tank, you are simply a grunt with a full squad following orders from the same guy you are around you. They'll fight, charge, shout and die alongside you. Instead of being a walking tank, you go down after taking four or five rounds(although on easy you may as well be a walking tank). For the most realistic experience try playing the game on veteran, where with two bullets you go down. This brings up the issue of health. There is no health meter in the game. Instead you have to pay attention to the visual cues as to how your character is doing. As he takes more damage, I guess blood starts seeping into his vision as a red border starts appearing around the screen, it's impossible to miss. Other cues include your character breathing heavy, loss of hearing, stuff like that. In order to regain health, you need to get behind cover and stay there for a while. It creates a bit more of an interesting gameplay element than hunt for the large med pack. The Single Player campaign lasts over three real campaigns and one extra mission after all is said and done, you'll play from the Russian, British, and American perspectives, ranging from the Stalingrad defense, to battling the desert fox, a lesser known D-day landing, and even a tank section(although that section wasn't a particularly strong one). All the battles are usually very intense, and quite fun to play, if not frustrating at times. One you head online, Xbox Live does disappoint a little. For some reason, the player limit was set to eight. While most of the maps do feel populated when there's eight people, it still seems lackluster, considering the PC version supported quite a few more players. Initially there was also tremendous lag issues, but that has been patched and it's a much more enjoyable experience online now. Game modes vary from standard deathmatch and Capture the flag, to a few more interesting modes that struck me as a little bit of a twist on king of the hill. Setting up a command point and defending it while the other team tries to dismantle it. This is by far one of the best WWII shooters I've played in a long time.
Overall, it's a fantastic game that takes the prize as the best FPS the Xbox 360 has to offer so far, but a few thing missing here and there causes it to fall short of its big brother PC counterpart. If your PC can run this game, I'd have to recommend that version over the Xbox 360 one, but either way, this is a game you really need to play.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
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