Call of Duty 2 (PC)

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Saturday, November 12, 2005

Graphics: 9.00
Sound: 9.50
Gameplay: 9.00
Replays: 8.50

The original Call of Duty was arguably one of the best World War II themed shooters that PC gamers had ever experienced. Now after two years Infinity Ward has released the sequel and while it has some problems, FPS fans who loved the original will definitely want to pick it up.

Immediately after jumping into the single player campaigns gamers will know that this is a Call of Duty title, as few WWII themed games can match the series intensity. There will be few moments to rest as every level presents numerous challenges to overcome. If there is one thing that COD2 will be remembered for it will be for the almost overwhelming odds the player constantly encounters. However every challenge that the game puts you up against can eventually be overcome with eventually, and players will not likely get stuck on one level for that long.

Activision decided to up the presentation for this sequel by partnering with the Military Channel, and their efforts paid off. Before each mission a real life clip displays (taken from real footage the Military Channel uses) which draw you further into the events of each particular level. Aside from these clips, there are no cinematics of any kind. The focus (as expected) is on the action and everything is handled in-game (similar to how every event in Half Life was done in-game and seen in the first person).

If there is one questionable aspect to the game, it would have to be the new health system. Instead of a traditional health bar and medikits like in the original Call of Duty, Infinity Ward has decided to use a system where if you take cover for a few seconds, any damage you have taken will disappear. If you don’t find cover when the screen is outlined in red your character will die. This health system not only makes the game quite a bit easier (as you can simply duck and recover and then take out another swarm of enemies), but it also is very questionable considering the source material. After all, this is a World War II themed game, not the latest science fiction themed FPS. In my opinion having a medic in your squad that could’ve helped you or sticking with medikits would have been the best alternative. This damage model also is used in multiplayer, so I can imagine some people not getting into the game as much because of it.

For the most part AI in the game performs very well. All of the friendly AI will effectively take cover and even kill some of the enemies for you. Every once in awhile they will have their moments of stupidity (such as when they throw a grenade and don’t move out of the way until right before the grenade is about to go off), but for the most part players will be very happy about how they operate. This is not to say that your character won’t be doing a lot though, as this is not the case. Typically the person you are in charge of will be the one who has to place bombs on tanks and do a lot of the more important jobs, which is great to see.

Barring some minor glitches here and there, the graphics in Call of Duty 2 are absolutely stellar. Numerous troops are onscreen at a time with many things going on in the environment, producing an absolutely breathtaking scene of war. Draw distance is also great as you will often see other battles going on in the distance while your squadron is fighting their own. Textures are extremely detailed and character models look great, even if some clipping issues pop up from time to time (it wasn’t uncommon for arms or legs to be seen going through walls on occasion). And another thing must be mentioned; the smoke effects in COD2 have to be some of the best seen in any game to this day (and you will be seeing them a lot as smoke grenades will have to be used a lot).

In some ways Call of Duty 2 will end up getting repetitive. Although IW is getting better making the game open ended, there are still a lot of constraints. It is nice to see that you can approach objectives in the order you wish, but there are still a lot of levels where barbed wire or blockades will force you down one specific path. And there are also just a few too many levels where you take over an area and then hold it down until reinforcements arrive. But for every of these somewhat repetitive levels COD2 makes up for it with vehicle and on-rail shooting segments as well as some very intense and fun scenes.

Call of Duty 2 also manages to absolutely nail atmosphere with its sound. Background music is very subtle, letting the sound effects take precedence. In addition to this, when artillery shells or other massive explosions rock the area nearby the sound will be deafened, similar to how the sound would have been for a real soldier. Voice-overs are also very impressive and all of the Allied troops will provide plenty of chatter throughout all of the levels. This impressive sound work adds to the experience and makes the game more enjoyable.

Multiplayer is fun and offers plenty of variety. Players can choose between Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, HQ, and Seek and Destroy. The first three should be familiar to any FPS players, but the last two modes are a little different. In HQ mode team members won’t be respawned after they die, unless you destroy the opponent’s HQ object. If all the team members die before this happens, then the game is over. Seek and Destroy mode is fairly self explanatory, as it has your team working to destroy a certain object without being killed by the other team. Fans of the original’s multiplayer will also notice that three of the multiplayer maps have been redone for COD2, in addition to 10 new maps (for a total of 13). Levels are wide open and expansive and matches can support up to 32 players, ensuring plenty of fun. Although multplayer might not be the best on the market, it will certainly extend the life of the main game.

Call of Duty 2 is an excellent PC experience, even though it has a relatively odd health system and some repetitive moments. Anyone who can look past these flaws will find an engaging experience that is fun to play, despite not being quite as fresh as the original. Perhaps we can consider the game somewhat of a last hurrah for World War II shooters, as the genre truly is starting to get old.

Overall Rating: 8.75

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