Martins, Evans and Alexei: WWII Heroes
Call of Duty is a WWII FPS where you're controlling three soldiers: Martins, an American volunteer in the Airbone, during Overlord preparing the field for the people fighting on the beaches, Evans, a British Servant during Overlord, trying to defend a bridge before going in stealth missions and Alexei, a young Soviet during Stalingrad becoming one of the best snipers and taking with his unit the Reischtag at the end.
I remember playing a demo for Call of Duty on my laptop in 2004 because I needed some action and the Painkiller one was, well, lagging. So, I played the second mission and was surprised of the speed of the action. Luckily, I couldn't give orders and I don't think that I would have played this if you had to do actions in the same time.
So, here we are in 2008, with a work to write for the 18th August. But I need action. I've finished Delta Force 2 but I want some non-pixelised graphics. I'm hesitating between Operation Flashpoint or Call of Duty, which was offered in a Italian magazine. I choose the latter. I can understand Italian, so, it's not a real problem. After all, I've played Max Payne in this language...
The game begins with the tutorial for the commands. You're Martins, an American volunteer, in Captain Foley's team. After this, you don't have the time to breathe even if the beginning of the first mission is very calm. But then when your teammates (Elder, Sgt Moody and Cpt Foley among them) arrive, the Germans are waking up. They can kill you with their MG42, a fast chaingun and trust me, it happens very fast!
Martins is belonging to the Airbone who was preparing the field for the soldiers who would fight on the beaches in France. So, you don't live the hell that they lived but you are on your own hell. The first part of the campaign is coherent: you're beginning in Ste-Marie-L'Eglise but you have to run to a HQ for having orders with Moody and Elder in a epic battle where you're firing from a moving car. You have also tanks to destroy with Panzerfausts (rocket launcher). After that, you will be on a mission for destroying some canons. And you're finishing your campaign by freeing two British officers, one in a castle and the others in a camp with a timed mission of ten minutes.
You're playing an American, so, you'll fight with American weapons (M1 Garand, BAR, Thompson, etc.). As you know, you can only carry two weapons at the time (with the pistol and grenades) but if you're going out of bullet, change for German weapons like MP-40 or Kork something... and if you're lucky to find one with an optical lens, you'll be happy to snipe some Nazis. Anyway, it will be useful at the end of the third mission for killing Germans behind MG42. The advantage to change for a German weapon is that you'll find plenty of ammo on the corpses.
As a beginning campaign, it's easy but remember that you can be killed very fast and thanks to the medikit, you can really survive at it.
And then, you're switching to the British campaign.
Remember Cpt Price? The British Officer in the castle? Well, now, we're going back to Overlord. You're with him for defending a bridge against Nazis and particularly against Panzers. It's harder than the American campaign, particularly with the epic run in a truck or the fight against Stukas (planes) but you can survive.
Evans is transferred into Price's team after the heroic defense and begins secret missions, well more like infiltrating a dam alone and destroy everything or disguising as a German sailor and trying to do some harm to a German destroyer.
You will play with British weapons (Stern for example) but you will also have to destroy trucks with Panzerfausts or like I've said, Stukas with a DCA cannon if you want to stay alive after the mission with the Dam (beginning by the destroying of it, then running to an airport and finishing by the Stukas attacking).
For people having seen Enemy Behind the Gates or Stalingrad here in Europe, you will recognize the first part of the movie with the Red Army trying to reach the town in boats and with soldiers killing others because they're retreating... Or, the Russians don't want an escape. You don't have the choice to sprint without a gun (you're going by two, one with the gun, the other grabbing it if the teammate is dead). After that, you can fight with a proper weapon and trying to find a major in Stalingrad. You'll become a sniper. And surprise you'll be piloting a tank.
After the Russian campaign, you'll play Martins again, then Evans and finishing by Alexei taking the Reichstag in Berlin.
Alexei being a Soviet, he'll fight with their weapons: Mosin-Nagan, PK something, etc. You'll have to destroy tanks by piloting one and trust me, it's not easy. You can be easily lost when your turret is in fact in the wrong direction: you want to advance but you're going behind... But it's also an epic battle.
And the gameplay? Well, it's a war FPS, so don't expect to have the time to planify a strategy. Follow the orders and everything will go as smooth as it can.
Lock, load and shoot... Yes but don't forget to duck. Because the Germans are firing at you and I can guarantee a fast death if you aren't careful. You don't give orders but you have objectives, represented by a star on the map. And they're varied: destroy Panzers, rescue Price, cover Moody, take documents, etc.
You can also use the MG42 if required, you can place explosives (and run for cover), you can also use Flack (cannon), etc. It's easy to play Call of Duty. Once you've understood the commands, it will a piece of cake except with the whole tank driving.
AI is very good, particularly when coming to the enemy. They can duck, throw grenades or fighting with their weapons in a hand-and-hand battle. Anyway, you don't have stupid soldiers coming directly to you, giving you the easy way to kill them.
Graphics are very nice and I was surprised by the quality of the night missions. Anyway, you can recognize easily your allies or your enemies. The places are also very well designed: to a completely destroyed Stalingrad to a French village in fire without forgetting the dam or the destroyer.
Weapons are also well modeled, when having a Thompson or a M1-Garant or a Mosin-Nagant in my hands, I didn't felt a difference with the ones used in Vietcong, the FPS taking place during the Vietnam War, even when clicking on the right button for a better aim.
Soundtrack is very good. Voice acting in the Italian version was very good and I have to say that the sounds were also immersing you into the battle. I'm wondering if it was like that at the time but it was stressful to hear a Panzer arriving or a mortar exploding.
Music is very good. You have the impression to be into an heroic drama movie, like in Star Wars for example. I loved it.
With four difficulty modes and a multiplayer one, Call of Duty can be very long. And its replay value is high, so expect days or weeks of intense pleasure.
Well, as I've stated, you can die very fast if you aren't careful: don't run in the line of fire of a MG42 or you'll be on the ground in a matter of seconds... unless you're in God mode. Remember also that you can be under friendly fire and that if you kill a fellow soldier, you'll be seeing game over.
Allies AI is another matter. Yes, it's good but not as a good as the enemy one. I mean, your friends have a tendancy to let themselves in the line of fire with the exception of scripted people like Foley, Moody, Elder, Price, Waters, Makarov... So, yes, if you're only with two comrades and that they fell under the enemy fire, you'll be on your own after.
Another negative points is that tank driving, disorienting you easily. I've explained that previously: if your turret isn't in the same direction as the front of the tank, you'll be trying to position you in the right one, even the command Space who will center the turret isn't as easy to use. If you touch your mouse, the positioning stops. And it's the law of Murphy: when you have to do that, you're under the enemy fire (Panzers or Germans soldiers).
I must also say that some parts of missions were very very difficult, like the assault on Stalingrad or the beginning of the second mission in the American campaign. Anyway, you will find a way to be victorious (there is a god mode you know if you're tired to die).
Another thing which can arrive is a script error. I don't know if it was because I was playing with god mode in a mission where I was frustrated to die or if it's a bug that can happen sometimes.
The Bottom Line
Call of Duty is a fast-paced FPS set in WWII and I can guarantee some pleasure by trying to be an hero. Anyway, graphics and soundtrack are very good despite having some years and the gameplay is easy to understand. Enemy AI is good, much better than the Allies one (except for Foley, Moody, Elder, Price, Ingram, Waters, Makarov and the sergeant in Stalingrad).
If I recommend CoD? Yes. Even if I've played it in a different language than English or French, it's pure pleasure.