STAFF REVIEW of Call of Duty 2 (Xbox 360)

Monday, November 28, 2005.
by Salmonaitor

Call of Duty 2 Box art You know when you have really big expectations for a game? It?s all you think about and you have no reservation whatsoever about buying it and being first in line for it? Well I do, but oddly enough, it wasn?t for this game. I never played the original Call of Duty so I had no real hunger for Call of Duty 2. I picked it up mainly because a friend of mine said he heard that you could campaign co-operatively over Xbox Live with it, and because he doesn?t like to play traditional multiplayer games I thought this would be a good way to get some gaming time in together. I was really waiting for another Xbox360 launch title, and that was the game that I had the big expectations for.

I got my Xbox360 on launch day and had to work all day. When I finally got home I had to wait to set it up because I have 3 young kids that needed to get to bed and we have that ?no playing violent games in front of the children? rule in our house (pffft). Anyways, I finally got them off to bed and popped in that eagerly anticipated launch title that I had picked up in addition to Call of Duty 2. I had decided that I would play through the training missions of both games, but most likely end up playing the other title, and save Call of Duty 2 for another time. After I completed the training mission of the first game, I popped in Call of Duty 2, and was immediately taken with the opening scene before the menus (I never went back to the other title).

I started off my campaign on the normal setting, just to get a feel for it. It was great because it?s the kind of game you can just pick up and play. The controls are easy and familiar and everything just feels so natural. You start off with basic training from the General (I think the most fun I?ve had so far was going through the training and throwing potatoes at the General. If you throw it just right, you can make one stick to his shoulder and watch him walk around with a potato on his shoulder?ahhh, fun times). The battle heats up pretty quickly, as training is interrupted by an attack. It?s a fairly light attack, but it really gives you a feel for how this game is going to go, and believe me, there is no letdown in the campaign (except for the fact that I would have loved to play as the Canadians storming Juno Beach on D-Day at Normandy).

The campaign is very intense, and has you playing in many different capacities, from sniping, to anti tank opps, to explosives and so on. It also places you in many different locales from frozen Russia to sunny Egypt. The battles are very detailed as you experience wave after wave of enemy forces. After my initial training and a couple of missions, I knocked it up to the Hardened difficulty setting, and started my campaign again. The difference is subtle at first, but gets noticeable as you see your enemies get smarter and greater in numbers. The support you get from your troops is impressive, but in certain situations you really need to watch your back, as you?re expected to do a lot in addition to looking out for number one. Axis troops are smart, and they?ll get to you any way they can. They will also barrage you with verbal taunts which you most likely won?t be able to understand, but you?ll definitely catch their meaning. Listen to your troops, they will tell you a lot of things that will help you get by. Work with them as a team and you?ll increase your chances for success, stray from them, and you quickly become a sitting duck. This game gets so intense at times that you need to stop, take a breather, and unhook your hands from the controller. I?ve had trouble finding flaws in the campaign and haven?t experienced any thus far, although I?ve heard from a few people that once you get to a certain point in the campaign, the game will reset itself and none of your missions will be available to you, like you?ve never played them. I?m sure Activision will patch that quickly, as this game is destined for serious consideration for Game of the Year for the Xbox360. The game is not perfect though, and unfortunately this is where I get to the imperfections.

The lack of co-operative play is a complete and total disappointment, this game would be so much better with it as it would send the replay factor sky-high; add online co-op, and I would probably lose my job and my wife for the mere fact that I wouldn?t get off the couch. I was secretly hoping that when I finished the campaign in single player that it would miraculously unlock this feature, and although I?m not finished, I?m assured that it won?t. Multiplayer has been somewhat of a letdown thus far. The game modes are good, and fairly typical, ranging from Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch, to Capture the Flag and Territories type games. The letdown comes in the servers and the lack of apparent control of game-play. It is very laggy at times. I myself have only experienced lag once, but became the innocent victim of lag in that in many a game I would end up alone because people had lost connection or had a really laggy experience and just left. That is frustrating, because it doesn?t tell you that you?re the only person left; you kind of just run around and then discover that no one else is there and you?re left with these horrible feelings of un-fulfillment and inadequacy. Playing Saturday morning I probably only finished about 2 out of 15 matches. Again, I?m hoping for a patch, either from Xbox Live or from Activision to fix this problem because the Xbox Live multiplayer component to this game is fun and intense when it works. Anyone who was big into Ghost Recon or Rainbow Six 3 back in the day will know what I?m talking about, except this is way more beautiful and the maps are unbelievable.

The gameplay for this title is great. It?s one of those games you can just pick up and go ? no fuss, no muss. The controls are well laid out, and the addition of the shoulder buttons to the Xbox 360 controller is a dream come true. This is THE BEST controller ever made, and the addition of wireless is the icing on the cake. On the hardened level, it is definitely challenging, and the A.I. is frustrating, but in a good way. They are always on the move, and when they?re not, they are fairly well hidden, which means you either have to be a pretty good shot, or have pretty big ***** to meet them face to face in close combat. The Xbox Live gameplay is well done also (when it works), and the radar is a thing of beauty. The fact that it only lights up when you shoot means that you need to be smart in your gameplay. It discourages camping and really forces you to be tactical. When you see an opposing player show up on radar, you can head for that location and perhaps find him camping because he thinks he?s found a ?sweet spot?, but if he?s smart, he?s got himself out of there, and set himself up somewhere where he has a clear shot at you coming to find him.

The graphics in Call of Duty 2 are nothing short of stunning. If you?re playing this game on a standard television, you?re probably having a lot of fun with a great game; if you?re playing this game using HDTV, then you are playing arguably the most visually stunning shooter ever made and experiencing this game to its fullest.

It might not be fair for me to judge the audio of this game because I never hooked my old Xbox up to my home theatre system, now that I have, I am completely amazed. I can hear what?s going on behind me now. I can tell when an enemy is flanking me. I know the position of my troops without having to look around. I?m a better player on Xbox Live because of it. I LOVE SURROUND SOUND!!!!!!!!!! The music is your typical WWII background music, and it?s good. The sound of the weapons is incredible, you can pretty much tell what gun someone is shooting. The best part though, is the fact that you can put your own music into the game, this totally blows my mind.

Overall, I have to say that I have a love/hate relationship with Call of Duty 2. I love the campaign; I love the look, the sound, the feel. The Xbox Live component is great ? again ? when it works, but I just feel like Activision could (and should) have waited another month or so to fine tune things to make them near flawless. This is the best game on the Xbox 360 right now in my humble opinion, but I fear that another game might quickly take its place that offers some of the things that this game is lacking, i.e. co-op, both online and split-screen, in addition to a more controllable Xbox Live experience through the ability to host your own games and invite only your chums. Hopefully we?ll see some patches or some added functionality through downloads, which would make this the best tactical shooter I?ve ever played. Only time will tell.

Overall: 9.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.4 / 10
Visuals: 9.2 / 10
Sound: 9.8 / 10


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