Every so often a First Person Shooter (FPS) comes along that makes you reaffirm your belief in a genre that has been worked to death over and over again since the hallowed days of Doom and the original Quake. Call of Duty from Activision is one such game that hopes to carve its place in history as a benchmark game and from what we’ve seen, it has every right to do so.
Based across three campaigns that you play in a sequential order - The missions see you battling across three fronts of the Second World War. The first after running the assault course to learn the movements and weapons is following the American Paratroopers as they parachute in behind enemy lines just before the Normandy invasion. The second sees you playing a British solider securing a key bridge and the third - probably the most graphically and impressive is the battle for Stalingrad.
The gameplay is your pro-typical WWII approach - making everything as real as possible. Guns have recoil, weapon sights are mostly poor and bullets hurt. But it’s not the weapons cache that make this game what it is. After all the Medal of Honor series offers the same array of real guns to master and get your mitts on.
The real charm of Call of Duty is in it approach to the levels and their very cinematic approach. Whether it’s the orchestrated score that raises the tension at every possible moment or the fast paced action that actually makes you value your life the game has the ability to whisk you away into the story. Take the first level for example - you parachute in, take out a German in a house, meet up with some of your other colleagues and then proceed to take down house by house filled with bad guys. Along the way you are ambushed, planes are crashing around you and in the distance other battles ensue.
Another fine level is first of the Stalingrad campaign that sees you a la Enemy at the Gates crossing the river, being handed 5 rounds and told to get on with it while the Germans once again lay down a hail of bullets. Get caught in the cross fire of the artillery and the game goes silent, the vision fuzzy and the world slow-mo as you try to get over the deafening sound of the bomb hitting in your near vicinity.
So you’ve got past the realism count, the weapons have been mastered and yet there is more this game wants to throw at you. The AI is frighteningly good - bad guys will chase after you and try to outflank at very opportunity, open spaces suddenly become void and you find without even thinking about it that you stick to walls and covered areas like glue. Step out in the open and there’s always a sniper ready to take you out.
Better still is that this isn’t just a game about the signal player and multiplayer fans will reveal in the idea that you up to 65 players can be in anyone game at the same time. 65 is a hell of a number and is certain to make sure that the online communities will be happy so expect to see plenty of online support from the clans that take to this title and while waiting for the United Offensive mission pack you can play many more maps created by the fans.
While there are plenty of WWII games out this Christmas such as the second Medal of Honor add-on, Breakthrough and the more strategic Hidden and Dangerous 2, this one certainly manages to break away from the crowd. Yes you will need a powerful machine to run it, but if you've got that powerful machine you will certainly be in for a ride. Superb.