When the Nintendo Wii and it’s innovative motion sensitive control scheme was first announced, the first thing that sprung to mind for most gamers was “Man-think of all the great shooters we’re gonna get out of this“. Indeed, Nintendo’s Wiimote seems custom tailored for the FPS genre, not only for it’s gun-like B trigger but for the level of realism and immersion it’s motion sensing technology brings to the table. So far, however, only one FPS (Ubisoft’s disappointing Red Steel) has shown up on the Big N’s little white console. That is, until now, and the arrival of Activision’s Call of Duty 3.
The success of last year’s COD 2 cannot be denied. Even though many gamers have expressed “burnout” with WWII shooters, COD 2 was a huge success. Activision managed to create one of the most immersive shooters of all time, and they attempt to build on that in COD 3. Do they succeed? Yes, and no.
The first thing you will notice about the Wii version of COD 3, is that it is missing one of the things that added so much to the experience in the last game (as well as the other Next Gen offerings of this one), the stunning, crystal clear graphics. There is no doubt that compared to it’s siblings on the 360 and PS3, the Wii version of COD is the ugly stepsister.
However, even with the dumbed down graphics, there is plenty of visual pop to keep you busy. Explosions look great, environments look realistic as does their destruction. Perhaps one of the benefits of the COD style is that there is so much going on at a time that you really don’t have much time to stop and inspect the individual textures. In all honesty the graphical differences, while substantial, will probably not effect your opinion of this title as much as the next (and most drastically different) subject. Control.
The control in COD 3 certainly takes some getting used to. However, I found that after about an hour of playtime they feel natural, if not perfect. Moving is controlled by the thumbstick on the Nunchuck, aiming and turning is handled by the motion control of the Wiimote. Aim the cursor towards the edges of the screen, and your soldier’s head will turn that direction.
Treyarch has also added an incredibly innovative set of motion responsive controls for actions such as grenade throwing, melee attacking, even wrestling control of a weapon from a Nazi soldier. All of these do a great deal to add to the immersion that the series is known for, and should give a great indication of what the future holds for games on the system. However, even the most immersive experience can be ruined quickly by a failure in the controls.
At rest, I found the controls to be responsive, although a bit over-sensitive on the default setting. However, once the fighting, running, aiming, shooting, and throwing starts, the controls start to complicate things. For instance, the grenade throwing mechanism I mentioned above works by holding the grenade button down and making a throwing motion with the nunchuck controller.
This is great fun, until the first time it doesn’t work, and you sit there flailing your arm up and down like you’re the drummer from Def Leppard while the grenade quickly ticks down to your doom. After a couple unnecessary deaths, I imagine many gamers will turn this feature off in favor of simply pressing the grenade button. While it’s nice of Treyarch to have included this option, what’s the point of playing an uglier version of the game if you can’t reliably take advantage of the unique controls.
The movement and aiming controls generally work very well. The only issue I noticed during my playtime with the title was due to the fact that rotating the Wiimote causes your soldier to lean left or right. When trying to turn, especially in the middle of the hectic battles this series is known for, the human hand has a natural tendency to rotate as well as point.
This leads to slower movement and difficulty turning as your soldier attempts to navigate the battlefield leaning over like an idiot. This flaw isn’t game breaking by any stretch, but it can certainly get annoying. Overall the controls in COD 3 are very well meaning and innovative, and after a general learning curve do a great deal to add to the immersion the series is known for. They do, however, feel like they need another coat of polish before the next entry in the series launches on the system.
Besides the control, perhaps the biggest difference between COD 3 on the Wii and it’s brethren is also the most disappointing. The outstanding multiplayer action that the title possesses on the other consoles has been completely eliminated. This is an incredible shame, and even if online functionality couldn’t be included I would have loved to see a split screen option.
The bottom line is that COD 3, despite its flaws, is a very good game with a great story and the frantic level of immersion the series is renowned for. If the Wii is the only console you own, I definitely recommend picking the game up as it will provide you a very worthwhile experience despite some of it’s minor flaws. If you own the other consoles though, I would recommend picking the game up on one of them.
Unless innovation is your primary concern, you will get a much prettier game on 360 and PS3 as well as an incredible multiplayer experience. Regardless of what system you buy it for, I whole heartedly urge you to play this game. As has become typical of the series, the realism and solid gameplay help to keep the Call of Duty series near the top of shooter franchises.