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Categories :: Computers : Games Articles


Category :: Games Author :: Tony Camara 
 Article Title :: Call of Duty 2

The original Call of Duty still remains one of the best World War 2 era, first person shooter games. It wasn’t universally loved though, one of the main problems being the very linear gameplay. Each mission had only one route to get to each objective which means you could just memorise where and when enemies arrived. Call of Duty 2 changes that to a certain extent – the amount of the change varies from level to level. The other problem was the somewhat short single player campaign.

The linear gameplay has been changed in two ways. The first way is with some missions having multiple objectives shown at the same time – it’s up to the player to decide what order to tackle them in. For example, in one US mission you have to capture a number of buildings. Your radar shows the location of each building and they are labelled A, B, C etc. You don’t have to take them in any particular order; you just need to take all of them. This method isn’t used very often though. The second method is to allow multiple approaches to certain objectives. Say you need to capture an enemy building - the enemy are all shooting at you through the windows so you need to decide how to tackle the problem. You can snipe at them from a distance, use cover to get around and sneak in the side/back door or toss in a smoke grenade to cover your head on assault.

The weapons available to you are mostly the same as you’d expect from a WW 2, FPS game. Most of the guns from the original are back but there are some additions. In the Call of Duty expansion pack they introduced semi-automatic rifle like the German Gewehr. These have been kept, but in some places you’ll find a scoped Gewehr which is a distinct improvement over the scoped KAR98K. This seems to be only available in single player mode though. They have also introduced shotguns – I can’t recall seeing these in single player mode offhand but they are available in multiplayer. Shotguns are deadly in close quarters but much less effective at long range. One slightly disappointing feature is that you can’t select your weapons for a mission. You can swap them if you can find one that has been dropped and for some linked missions you’ll keep whatever guns you were carrying in the previous mission. It would have been nice to handles it like Vietcong where you could select your firearms beforehand.

Grenades work slightly differently in Call of Duty 2. You no longer switch to them like a normal weapon. Instead you have a button dedicated to throwing fragmentation grenades and another dedicated to throwing smoke grenades. A single press of either button will make your character quickly pull out a grenade (if he has one) and throw it. Although they have kept smoke grenades from the CoD expansion, the ability to cook them off is gone – they do explode a set time after being released though so if you throw them in a high arc they’ll be nearly ready to blow when they hit the ground. A grenade warning indicator has been added – this will show up when you are within the explosive radius of a fragmentation grenade. The direction towards the grenade will be indicated for you. It’s not perfect though as it looks like the indicator will still point out grenades that can’t hurt you due to some kind of obstruction being in the way - it’s good to be warned though in case you were about to break cover and charge towards one. Smoke grenades are also included as I mentioned before. These take a few seconds to become fully effective but when they are working they block visibility heavily. The enemy AI seems to work with smoke quite suitably. They won’t stop firing but they will be shooting blind. Still missing from this and many FPS games is some kind of grenade arc/target indicator which will help you aim your grenade accurately.

Sniping has changed slightly from the original game. In multiplayer, sniper rifles saw a few revisions – one revision including a “shudder” where your aim would be moved off immediately after looking down the scope (this was hated by many). In CoD 2, sniper rifles have a certain amount of sway to them when you are looking down the scope. You can press a button to hold your breath - this gives you up to about 5 seconds where the sway is almost eliminated. This balances the sniper rifle fairly well I feel.

The health system for CoD 2 is something I can’t say I’ve seen before in a FPS. The closest match would be the shield system in Halo but it’s not quite the same. You don’t have a health bar in the game. Instead, as you take wounds, the screen will begin to turn red and become fuzzy. If you take too much damage you’ll die. However, if you manage to get out of harms way for a short time you’ll recover and be ready to go again. It only takes about 5 seconds to go from being badly wounded to fully healthy. It’s not exactly realistic, but it’s good from a gameplay perspective as you can no longer get stuck in a position where your health is too low to stand a chance of continuing. In single player you can survive about 2-3 shots from a bolt action rile. In multiplayer your tolerance is much less and you can survive only one.

The squad based combat in this game is mostly good. Aside from attracting bullets away from you, your buddies will often call out where enemy soldiers are hiding. This can be useful, if you can work out where they are indicating. Most often the enemy is pretty easy to spot though so it doesn’t matter if your buddies are calling out that an enemy is behind some crates since you can already see them. The squad based combat isn’t on par with games like Brothers in Arms but that game was heavily based around squad based tactics. One gripe though, the game will force you back to the last checkpoint if you were “mostly” responsible for the death of one of your squad mates. By “mostly” I mean if most of the damage done to them was from you. For example, if they were mostly dead when you accidentally shoot them then you aren’t held responsible. If they are in good health and your grenade blows them up it’s back to the checkpoint with you. This can be a pain since I have seen an occasional ally charge towards the spot where you’ve just lobbed a grenade. It doesn’t happen that often fortunately.

As with any good, modern FPS game you have a training mission at the start. Most war games have you training at a state of the art US boot camp. In CoD 2 you are “trained” at a Soviet training camp which is unsurprisingly low tech. Instead of practicing with fragmentation grenades you are given potatoes to throw since they can’t afford real grenades for training. However, as soon you finish your minimal training you get thrown into battle against a German unit that is attacking the camp. This is a much more atmospheric type of boot camp. The Russian missions of CoD have always given a good idea of what life was like as a Conscript in those days.

The multiplayer of CoD 2 is fairly entertaining but it seems to me that the weapons are a bit out of balance. Shotguns (at close range) and bolt action rifles seem to be an instant kill weapon while semi-automatic and automatic weapons take a number of shots to kill. This seems to skew combat in favour of the very accurate – even getting the jump on someone might see you lose because if this. I’ve unloaded on someone with an automatic weapon at close range and still lost when they got a single shot off on me. Headshots are still in the game and I dislike them for much the same reason. Some of the old maps from the original CoD have been touched up and included with CoD 2 multiplayer – as well as looking better the maps have been redesigned somewhat. The headquarters match type has been changed as well. Instead of a single radio icon appearing to indicate where the next HQ will be – two icons appear and one will randomly be selected to be the new HQ. There’s also a nasty surprise that helps limit the amount of time one side will hold the HQ for. If your side has the HQ established, if you die you won’t respawn until the HQ is destroyed. Unless the defenders are very good, the other side will eventually win via attrition is nothing else. The weapon you choose in multiplayer will also affect the grenades you start with – different weapons include a different combination of fragmentation grenades and smoke grenades. Close range weapons are more likely the have smoke grenades.

Call of Duty’s single player campaign is pretty short which is a minus – but all of the missions are action packed and entertaining. You can extend the single player by playing at the top difficultly level which is very demanding. Multiplayer is a lot of fun as well but I feel it needs a bit of weapons balancing. This game is worth the purchase for most FPS fans

Video Game Access http://www.vgaccess.com

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