Review: When duty cal? forget it ? insert war related pun here.
It came as a great shock to the majority when Treyarch announced they would be developing Call of Duty 3 for current and next-generation consoles, not Infinity Ward. This was not so much a shock in questioning Treyarch's ability to develop the next Call of Duty title (after all, they made a success of Call of Duty 2: Big Red One and many other games), but questioning Infinity Ward for not developing the title. But you're not here to try and change what has already happened ? no! You're here hopefully to find out about Call of Duty 3 and see if it's worth your hard earned/stolen money.
The first thing noticeable to anyone with a pair of eyes and copy of the game is that it's more of the same. You're still a soldier fighting a war, walking along and trying to ruin your enemies before your enemies ruin you. It still plays out in a near-identical way to how it did before and Treyarch have certainly made no attempts at concealing that. These are not bad things; this is a war game after all. The Call of Duty series has never been about putting on a song and dance anyway. What Call of Duty's about is getting down to the basics of war that is shooting enemies, being shot by your enemies, explosions, mud flying in the air and the frankly brilliant sounds. And there's plenty more where that came from.
To pose a question: how many games actually make you feel as though you're fighting with your team as opposed to being a lone soldier? COD 3 is amazing in that it gives you the feeling you're fighting against fierce enemies who just want to kill you then continue. Gone are the days of running into the battlefield gun in hand, spraying a burst of fire into the distance. Do that in COD 3, even on the easier difficulties, and you're likely to be met with a trip to failure. But that's where the game's beauty lies; its simplicity. While it may sound confusing, essentially the battle system is ? as ever ? as easy as pie to get to grips with. The usual crouch/prone button is there, and once you can master the technique of using both that and the environment for cover, you'll be well on your way. Along the same route, you're not going to see glowing health packs lying on the ground. They weren't there in the real Normandy Breakout and so they certainly don't appear in COD 3, thank god. Similarly, weapons aren't going to pop out in front of your feet. Instead, you do the good thing; kill the enemy, grab their weaponry and run.
On the note of weaponry, you can only bring with you on your magical war journey two of them. It's certainly not the Grand Theft Auto of the WWII games world. No guns, knives and rocket launchers all in your back pocket here. If you wanted realism then you sure got it, and in all honesty you'll seldom be without ammunition. If you are, then it's still probably okay. Hit them with your weapon in melee instead or, as mentioned previously, grab the enemy's ammo. See? It's not so bad after all.
Good news everyone! Both the gunning and health replenishment systems from Call of Duty 2 are back, meaning that in COD 3, it's more intense and up-close than ever. Rifles and other guns have no crosshair like most FPS titles, proving that every kill in sight really is your own. For the more intense combat it's probably best to just pull the right trigger and shoot. While less accurate, this will prove to be vital in some of the more packed environments. The alternative to that is taking time, best at distance, to line up your shot by zooming in, using that slight piece of metal at the end of the gun. Again, pull on the right trigger and bam, right in the kisser. As for the health system, those of you that played COD 2 can't expect anything new, but it's sweet nonetheless. There isn't a health bar as such, rather a screen indication. If you're being constantly shot at you'll see the screen turning red as an indication of the damage you're taking, along with the sound of a pulsating heart. Take cover, rest, do whatever you can to avoid fire and soon enough your health will be replenished. Just like in the movies!
Anyway, back to the change. Some core gameplay elements have been removed and some new ones added, to try and make for a better gameplay experience. I say ?try' as they don't necessarily add much to the game. Possibly the most notable of the new ?additions' is the ability to return grenades to their rightful owners, which was something missing in COD 2, an advantage the enemy had but you didn't. As a grenade is lobbed in your general direction, you can take the risk of picking it up and throwing it. This is shown by a bar around a hand symbol which decreases as there is less time until the thing explodes. Now kids, that's why it's best to only return grenades when there's a clear path (they can bounce back at you, don't you know?) and when there's time (it wouldn't hurt to keep all of your limbs intact).
Elsewhere, melee combat has been implemented into the battle system. Unfortunately, this is scripted and so the prospect of battling your enemy hand-to-hand at any given time is gone. Normally now would be the time to say something harmless like ?never mind, it's there, so be grateful'. Just no. These melee combat sections are simply awful? nobody likes pulling triggers in quick succession. It sucks. What also sucks is the bomb placing the game is intent on throwing into some of its missions. As the name suggests, you place bombs. It sounds innocent, but just wait until you've wound the left stick around for ages pointlessly until you have to press a button to place the bomb and get the hell out of there. Really Treyarch, this is not fun.
Wait, you thought that was bad? You've not heard the worst of it yet. COD 3 has driving sections. Yeah, I know. I thought the exact same thing when coming into counters with them ? since when has a war game needed RUBBISH DRIVING SECTIONS?! My thoughts included ?Oh look, that's a conveniently placed plank of wood against that wall,' ?This roadblock is useless, the route continues past it' and ?What the f---?' These are just some of the thoughts echoing through my mind as I drove an off-road vehicle through an atrocious map design. Let's not waste time here even beginning to describe how useless these driving sections are.
Unfortunately, just as you thought all the bad was over, another paragraph had to begin. Hey, at least the niggles will then be known. The artificial intelligence both on allies and enemies is? well, simply lame. Of course, this is to be expected in a game which throws many enemies on screen at once, each performing unique actions. But come on Treyarch, did it have to be this lame? Soldiers being stuck against (and in some cases inside) objects such as walls, taking random shots where there are no enemies and just as bad, occasionally speaking lines with no relevance to what's going on.
Equally as bad are the other faults. Invincible characters that are vital to the story, thus being able to take the entire game's weapons being shot at their faces, before dusting off their coats and continuing to fight the battle. Not a problem as such, but unrealistic. In other places, reaching checkpoints and clearing objectives, only then having to wait for your troops to catch you up is another big annoyance. Character voice speech is another flawed concept ? simply put, if you turn or walk away from a character a briefing or something similar, their voice will become noticeably quieter. While this doesn't necessarily detract from the experience, especially because some might argue it makes the game more realistic, it's still an annoyance which could have been prevented. Finally, cut-scenes cannot be skipped. It's perhaps unfair to nitpick but sometimes lengthy cut-scenes are better skipped, especially when replaying a level. This could also have been easily prevented ? hopefully an update will fix this minor problem.
Having been awfully harsh on COD 3 ? but for the right reasons, because so much was expected from it ? it's now time for some good news. At last. The campaign itself is lengthy enough; there are 14 missions to play through, and four different countries to play as ? America, Britain, Canada and Poland. Missions are varied and usually form the structure of wiping out as many enemies as possible, whilst completing objectives as you go about your business. There's a lack of emotional attachment to the characters that was clearly intended through each character's story, such as a radio operator who was sadly tagged a coward. Oh well. This time round the ability of saving mid-mission past checkpoints is granted to you, which translates to not losing progress during the often long levels which furthermore translates to happy gamer.
Multiplayer is every bit as intense as the single-player campaign, you'll be glad to hear. Call of Duty 2's multiplayer allowed up to eight players per match, which was good enough after the lag was fixed through an update, when the game was sold out as gamers fled to their nearest retailer to grab a copy once again. COD 3 follows the trend and builds on it, supporting up to 24 players online with minimum lag. Nine multiplayer maps are already there (and the purchasable ones available online) to do battle in and six game modes ranging from the traditional Deathmatch to the, let's say more strategic Capture the Flag. In an attempt at going all Battlefield on yo' ass, there are now also seven character types to play as, including a medic who has the powers of reviving downed soldiers. Let's forget about the vehicles you can manoeuvre, eh?
At the crunch of it all though, the numerous flaws and glitches are rarely enough to stop Call of Duty 3 being a great WWII experience. At the same time, it's another WWII game and there are enough of them already ? it sounds incorrect, but there's more good than there is bad in the game if you look in the right places, and at the end of the day, isn't that what we all want? Amen.