Call of Duty 2 Xbox 360
Published by Activision
Developed by Infinity Ward
Release Date: Out Now
Call of Duty 2, an introduction.
Well Microsoft's new console, the Xbox 360, is finally with us. Here we have our first review for the Xbox 360, Call of Duty 2, and out of the handful of launch titles that we've seen we can honestly say it's one of the most impressive. Of course without a Halo title for the release of the Xbox 360, FPS fans are going to need a game that can fill the void and whilst many would have hoped this would have been the job of Perfect Dark Zero, the quality FPS experience for the Xbox 360 launch has been provided by Call of Duty 2.
What's the game about?
Call of Duty placed you in the Russian, US and British armies to give you a varied taste of World War II and Call of Duty 2 does exactly the same thing. You'll fight in Stalingrad with the Russians, North Africa with the British and on the Normandy beaches with the US Army. The game offers some very different environments but they are all equally impressive. From start to finish the game is filled with dramatic, suspense filled, battles that will simply keep you glued to your controller.
What's good about the game?
From top to bottom Call of Duty 2 is a class act. Those of you who played Call of Duty on the PC will remember how cinematic the whole experience was. The game wasn't just another World War II FPS; it was in many ways, an interactive movie with high production values and top quality game play. Call of Duty 2 somehow manages to take the immersive, cinematic qualities of Call of Duty and improve upon them and the result is a very polished product. It's not just the presentation or the quality of the visuals that impress though. The control system is excellent and it's probably one of the most natural console FPS games I've played in this respect. Instead of having to find health packs, you simply have to avoid the enemy for a while if you take too much damage. A serious hit will give a red mist appearance on the screen. You may experience force feedback to indicate a flagging heart beat as well as blurred vision. Simply keeping out of harm's way for a while will restore you to good health (kind of how it was in Halo). The missions themselves are excellent and when you combine this with a challenging AI that really makes you think about what you're doing, you have a recipe for FPS excellence.
What's not so good about the game?
It actually seems like I'm being overly fussy attempting to pick out a complaint with Call of Duty 2. With the single player game I have no complaints at all. However the multiplayer side of the game is run of the mill stuff. The modes on offer include Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, CTF, Headquarters and Search and Destroy. As per usual the quality of the experience is reliant on playing with sensible players. If you end up playing with the usual numbskulls that you meet when jumping into a casual game, you'll have the usual problems of sniper and grenade fests that can make the game no fun at all.
How does it look?
With this being on a console with the power that the Xbox 360 has, you'd expect the game to look something special and Call of Duty 2 does not disappoint. Call of Duty 2 on the PC looked great if you had a top spec CPU combined with a high powered graphics card such as the Nvidia 7800 GTX. Even with such a stellar PC setup, the game is prone to dips in the frame rate that make for a jarring experience at times. The Xbox 360 version not only matches the PC version in terms of how good it looks but it also performs much better with the frame rate almost always at a constant 60fps. This is a magnificent achievement which is even more impressive when you realise that the Xbox 360 isn't being fully utilised. The visuals are absolutely first class and there are times when it's just like watching a World War II film. Character and weapon models are excellent. There are some great weather effects here and the scale of some of the explosions is without a doubt the most impressive we've seen in a console FPS. We played the game on a standard TV and on a PC TFT monitor running at the 1280x1024 screen resolution and it looked impressive on both. I was particularly impressed with the smoke grenade effects. The thick smoke that fills the air looks realistic and yet the frame rate doesn't dip in the slightest (something the PC version can't claim). Without a doubt this is one of the most impressive FPS games, visually speaking at least, that we've seen on a console.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
Call of Duty 2 is actually quite good in its provision for deaf gamers however, there some areas when it could be better. Subtitles are available and enabled by default and this will allow you to follow game's story. There are some military film footage clips and these aren't subtitled but everything else is including the tutorial messages. Peripheral speech is not subtitled. This isn't really a problem though. Mission objectives are shown in text and can be recalled. You're notified in text when an objective has been issued and when an objective has been completed. The compass on the lower left of the screen makes it clear which direction you should be heading in order to complete your objective which is a great inclusion. Should an enemy throw a grenade at you you'll have a grenade warning icon appear in the centre of the screen. When this icon appears you have to move away very quickly from your current location. As soon as you are out of harms way the icon will disappear. This icon could have done with either a dark outline or being placed on a dark overlay to make it stand out. This is only a problem in the missions set in Stalingrad where the white grenade warning icon is sometimes difficult to make out against the white snow.
There may be no Halo 3 for the Xbox 360 launch period but FPS fans needn't worry because Call of Duty 2 is one of the best console FPS games I've ever played. From start to finish the action is thrilling and the experience is unforgettable. Everything about the game oozes quality. The controls feel superb, the graphics are remarkable for a console launch title (seeing as console launch titles never manage to fully utilise the hardware as console hardware is rarely finalised until late on in a launch titles development), and the missions are challenging yet thoroughly entertaining. Launch titles are rarely anything special but Call of Duty 2 is a cracker and is simply a must own for anyone with an Xbox 360, who is in anyway interested in FPS games.
Overall Game Rating: 9.4/10
Deaf Gamers Classification:
(Click the letter or here for details)
Call of Duty 2 is the Xbox 360s first classic. Without a doubt it's the best launch title and easily fills the gap left by the lack of a Halo title.