Are you tired of storming the beaches of Normandy? Are you sick of trudging through the fields of Germany with your band of brothers? Whether you love them or hate them everyone has to admit that there is certainly an abundance of shooters based upon the Second World War. Regardless of which side of the fence you are on there is simply no denying just how damn good Infinity Ward’s latest iteration in the Call of Duty franchise is. If you have been growing tired of the genre, tough! CoD2 is so damn good it will resurface your love of wiping out the German regime. This is by far the most intense and adrenaline filled ride you can find this holiday season, and quite possibly the best launch title for Microsoft’s new Xbox 360.
Anyone who has played CoD before knows the scenario, Infinity Ward takes you through three distinct campaigns all consisting of scripted events and gorgeously detailed terrain. What makes CoD so special is not the content, but in how it is executed. Simple errands such as taking over a building can turn into the most intense firefight you have ever encountered, and with amazing squad and enemy AI at the helm you will have keep up your guard or your going home in a pine box.
Almost every man here will eventually get shot.
As I mentioned earlier CoD2 spans three interwoven campaigns, American, Russian, and British, spanning across France, Stalingrad, and Africa. There are several levels of difficulty to choose from and each mission takes place in a different time frame. The game gives you the opportunity to revisit these areas at your leisure once you have completed them which is a nice bonus; the levels themselves also give you the freedom to choose the order in which to complete some goals. It may not sound like much but this little extra bit of freedom really adds to the immersion of the game. The main single-player romp will last you between 8-12 hours depending on the level of difficulty you set it on, but you wouldn’t know it unless you timed it. The fast-paced and frantic combat causes the game to fly by so fast you will wonder where the time went. To claim that CoD2 is frantic is the understatement of the year.
One of the coolest aspects of CoD2 is that it was developed simultaneously with its PC brethren. This means that the visuals are absolutely identical to the PC counterpart; while this may sound like an insult to the 360 you really can’t appreciate how good this game looks until you see it running in high-definition resolutions of 720p and 1080i. It should also be noted that this is running on $400 hardware and not a $3000 super computer and all without ever dropping below 60FPS, which is unbelievable. Everything in the environment is super sharp and the animations are damn near flawless, especially the death sequences, and while it may sound silly the most impressive visual feature is the smoke effects from explosions and grenades. It’s the little details that really make this game shine in the visual department.
Probably more impressive than the visuals though is the amazing audio. From the dynamic soundtrack to the simple chatter amongst comrades the level of sound quality is unmatched by any other game out there. The explosions roar from all directions, the planes actually sound like they are in the sky, and the voices are all authentic and extremely well acted. In most ways the audio even surpasses the visuals in pure performance.
The voice overs are very important because they play an integral part in the missions. A lot of the time other soldiers will tell you where to go, what to do, and even where the enemy is. The first time one of your comrades screams out to take cover from incoming fire in the middle of a field, you will truly appreciate just how damn good the presentation in this game is. Hearing enemy chatter is just as humorous and informative, for instance when you toss a grenade into a room full of Jerrys you will hear them yell and scamper for cover, or even better pick up the grenade and lob it back at you, great stuff!
Grand Theft Auto: 1944
If all of this wasn’t enough there is always multi-player, and when it’s this good it would be foolish not to mention it. Aside from the standard deathmatch, team deathmatch, and capture the flag you also have a unique mode entitled HeadQuarters. In this mode you will be assigned a side and the objective is to take over the HQ and hold it for as long as possible. The catch here is that when the enemy controls the HQ your teammates cannot re-spawn; the only way to bring them back is by destroying the opposing HQ. You earn points for every second you control the HQ and the winner is usually determined on who survives the longest. The last mode is Search and Destroy which is pretty self-explanatory. There is one landmark on the map and you have to find it and destroy it, the opposing team can either defuse the bomb you plant or simply kill your squad to achieve victory.
The only letdown to the multi-player is that Xbox Live is limited to eight players, while this is understandable to keep the frame rate and lag issues down; it’s still disappointing we can’t do at least 16. You are able to play up to 16 players via lan play, which is a nice consolation, but we would have preferred to have it online. There are a total of 13 maps to choose from all of which sport nice detail and work surprisingly well, they also include a few maps from the first game for vets of the series.
To be honest I have never been a huge fan of WWII games, in fact aside from the recent Brothers in Arms series I have found most of them drab and repetitive. When I first heard that Activision was bringing CoD 2 to the Xbox 360 my initial impression was, oh great another war shooter, and then I played it. The pure adrenaline rush that you get from any level in this game is amazing, the mission structure actually keeps you entertained, and the presentation and top-notch AI really draw the player into the game world. Anyone who owns an Xbox 360 should be required to own this title, there is a reason it was the number one selling launch title. Everything about this game screams quality and I do not hesitate when saying, that this is by far the greatest WWII shooter ever conceived, buy it now!