View Full Version : REVIEW: Call of Duty 2 (XBOX 360)

12-09-05, 10:54 PM

XBOX 360
Genre: FPS
Difficulty: Medium
Players: 1-4 (Offline); 2-8 (XBOX Live); 2-16 (System Link)
Developer: Infinity Ward
Publisher: Activision
Review by Ruined

The sequel to Infinity Ward's 2003 Game of the Year, Call of DutyŽ 2 returns to deliver an unparalleled re-creation of the camaraderie, chaos and cinematic intensity of World War II through stunningly detailed graphics, realistic character animations and explosive on-screen action, powered by an all-new proprietary game engine.

Experience the most realistic squad combat and explosive action, brought to life by a context-sensitive dynamic battle chatter system, unparalleled smoke effects, adding non-linear gameplay, open mission objectives and the most alert A.I. ever.

Score reflects graphics viewed at 1080i resolution
Call of Duty 2 does not have the plethora of shader effects of Kameo. Nor does it have the displacement mapping of Perfect Dark Zero. What it does have, though, is the most realistic, cohesive, and smooth graphics out of all the XBOX 360 FPS titles available at launch. COD2 runs locked at 60fps most of the time, slowdown is rarely seen. Anti-Aliasing in the final retail COD2 game seems much improved over the Kiosk demo, which had a lot of jaggies unlike the full game. There are some neat visual effects to be seen when you are shot and when explosions go off near you; also, there are some nice weather and smoke effects. Altogether, the graphical package COD2 presents is hard to beat - and you need a $2500 PC to rival the XBOX 360 version in graphic quality.

Score reflects sound played back in 5.1 Surround
COD2 has outstanding surround sound and sound effects in general. Whether its gunfire, explosions, or voice samples, COD2 has it covered in terms of sound effects. Music is also top notch but is reserved for tide-turning events generally near the end of missions. Atmospheric noise is also fantastic.

Control is mostly spot-on, with one exception that I will nitpick. By default, Left Thumbstick is Move, Left Thumbstick Clicked is Binoculars, Right Thumbstick is Look, Left Trigger is Aim, Right Trigger is Fire, Left Bumper is Smoke Grenade, Right Bumper is Frag Grenade, A is jump/stand, B is stand/crouch/prone toggle, X is reload/switch weapon/action, Y is change weapon. That works fine for the most part... Except I would have liked that the stand/crouch/prone toggle be assigned to left thumbstick click instead of B; but COD2 does not allow you to assign buttons, so I am out of luck. While a few different control options are available, none of them assign crouch to the left thumbstick click. That being the case, if you are caught off guard on Veteran difficulty and need to crouch or go prone immediately, you will probably die by the time you get to the B button if your finger isn't on it already. And herein lies the problem with COD2's harder difficulty modes and control scheme - since the enemy can kill you in 2-3 hits and has perfect aim on these modes, you will need to be going crouch/prone a lot. With the crouch assigned to the B button, it becomes a bit of a hassle to have to be constantly going back and forth reloading with X and crouch/proneing with B. The game has no "cover" system aside from the enemies not hitting you with gunfire when you are behind an object, so the inability to assign one of the most important buttons in the game to the place it is most accessible to you is a big deal IMO. The controls are otherwise good besides this one issue; if you play on the middle or easier skill levels you won't have an issue at all.

If you were to describe COD2 in a single word, that word would be "intense." Call of Duty 2 is the most intense WWII FPS to date. Every level is filled with intensity, scripted events, and excellent enemy AI. You will see things happen in COD2 that have never happened before in a WWII FPS game. You will have to make tough decisions... Should you risk your life pushing forward to gain a terrain advantage, allowing you to break the enemy line easier? Or should you hang back for a while and try to pick off some enemies first, attempting to weaken the line even though they have the terrain advantage? You just exchanged fire with the enemy, and both of you were badly wounded. You took out his legs, but he is going for his pistol... You can move to cover behind some sandbags so that he can't get you with his pistol, or you can try to blow him away right now before he shoots... Which is your choice? Decisions like these will determine whether you are getting to the next checkpoint or loading your saved game in Call of Duty 2. The single player game is very well paced - even the basic training mission is exciting. The scripted events, such as tanks moving in for the kill or large enemy troop movements add quite a bit to the realism and excitement of the game. Checkpoints are scattered throughout the level so that if you die you won't lose that much ground. On the easier skill levels, you can run n' gun your way through most of the level, with a few areas left to strategic combat. On the hardest skill levels, it really feels like you are in a war trying to hold the line - or push the enemy back. The only thing that breaks the realism a bit is that the AI gains "cheap mode" on hardest difficulty. If your whole squad is on the front line taking out the enemy and you run back, away from the action by yourself, guess where the enemy will focus fire if feasible? On you, of course! Though this again makes the game more intense since you always need to watch your back, it is a bit predictable in that so long as you are visible you will almost always be fired at no matter what is going on in the battle. Some of your squadmates can also make bad decisions like standing in the only place that you could possibly gain cover to take out an enemy safely, yet not taking any action so that you have to run out into the open to kill him (and get hit). COD2's single player gameplay is incredibly polished and well done. Still, the plot of this game has been done time and time again now; of course, since it is history, that is to be expected. While COD2 does bring some innovation and intense combat to the table, it is still a WWII FPS in the end. But it is the best WWII FPS to date, by far.

Difficulty to earn XBOX Live Achievement Points: Hard
And here is where Call of Duty 2 falls apart on XBOX 360. As fantastic as the single player gameplay is, the XBOX Live gameplay is terrible. It has potential, but it can be pretty unplayable in its current form due to technical issues. COD2 requires that the host of the game has an exceptionally high transfer rate and low latency in order to provide lag-free online play. As most people don't have this, you are going to run into a lot of servers with lag. And when I say lag, I mean you can't even move or aim straight lag. It's bad. Think you can simply have your friend host with his 1mbps upstream? Think again, because COD2 does not support Private games. When you start a game, there is no way to make it private so that only your friends join. And once your done in a match, you get tossed out into the match select screen instead of in the lobby with your friends you just played. This makes playing online multiplayer in COD2 a chore. While there are several modes available for multiplayer including Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and more, the poor net code and lack of lobby features makes the online multiplayer of the game a dud. Did I mention the max amount of online players was reduced to 8 for the XBOX 360 version? It was, and the game still lags badly. The game scores so low here because FPS games like this are expected to deliver online multiplayer - it is an integral part of the replay value of the game. Highly disappointing, and hopefully Infinity Ward will develop a patch to fix the online portion of this game.

In terms of XBOX Live Achievements, they are relatively hard to attain in COD2 - as the bulk of the points revolve around completing groups of missions and eventually the whole game on Veteran (Very Hard) difficulty. Unfortunately, completing the whole single player campaign on the default Medium difficulty will leave you with barely any achievements unlocked.

With an intense and highly polished single player game Call of Duty 2 will not disappoint the hardened WWII FPS fan. In fact, this will likely become their new favorite game. However, the technical problems with the online multiplayer portion of the game combined with the control issues on harder difficulty modes I outlined above bring down the game overall. Almost a grand slam, Call of Duty 2 happens to just fall short - but remains a very good game and the best WWII FPS to date. Medal of Honor needs to go back to boot camp. Bring on COD3!

Link to buy: http://www.gamestop.com/product.asp?product%5Fid=200124