Hands On: Call of Duty 3
Players: 1+ Player Game | Genre: FPS
Call of Duty 2 was one of the reasons to own an Xbox 360 at the console’s launch if you couldn’t get it for the PC. The combination of presentation along with gameplay made for what was rightly considered one of the best games of the year. First person shooter fans may be getting tired of revisiting World War II, but something about the Call of Duty franchise keeps things fresh. The storytelling is great, the controls are tight and responsive, and there really seems to be some care given to the player and the experience, rather than just slapping some new missions together.
One of the first things that players will notice about Call of Duty 3 is the immersion. Players of the Xbox 360 version of Call of Duty 2 will be amazed at just how much the level of detail has increased in this latest entry. To aid in the graphical immersion, there are no more “load” screens. Instead a video plays setting up the scenario while the level loads in the background.
Another variation that Call of Duty 3 has is the story. There is one specific time period, starting with the Normandy breakout campaign and ending with the liberation of Paris. This tight focus on a specific series of events seems to have helped make a better game as there was a very clear direction of where to go.
Players will partake of 4 different armies – and naturally the British and American units are represented. Also being tossed into the mix this time are French and Canadian units. No Soviet campaign this time around, since they were busy with their own thing on the Eastern front.
The game plays very much like the previous game, and controls extremely well. The firefights are more intense, but I was able to get through most of a level the first time through “going blind” and not get killed. Then again, the difficulty setting on the machine I was playing on may have been set to “Go Easy On Him, He Sucks At Videogames” but I hope not.
One of the things that the developers are experimenting with this time around is what is being referred to as “Branching Mission Paths” where players will be presented with an option of how to progress through the level. These aren’t going to be major forks in the road – think of them as one squad goes around back to catch the enemy unaware while another squad goes in for a frontal assault and after that group of enemies is taken out the paths converge again.
There will be checkpoints before the branch so players will be able to partake of each to get the full experience from the levels. While this is just a first step, it’s good to see that the rigid linearity is being taken apart.
Multiplayer will also be present, just like in last games. This time around there will be support for 24 players on a map right out of the gate. At least that's the plan for the "next-gen" systems.
There will be some differences between the PS3/Xbox 360 versions and the Wii version, but mostly with regards to graphics and control. The game itself will be the same. The Xbox and PS2 versions may look a bit more like the Wii version, but will of course be on the lower end of the graphical spectrum.
Call of Duty 3 looks to be one of the “must have” titles again. There is the danger of diluting the franchise, and hopefully the next one (and there will be a next one – just watch) takes a similar approach with the story focusing on a very specific timeline and campaign, just not Europe. The land battles in the Pacific would be a very good direction.