Call of Duty 3
If thereís a genre in the games industry that weíre certainly not deprived of itís First Person Shooters, more specifically war-based shooters and theyíre being pumped out at a rate that makes EA look like a charity. Battlefield has seen a number of sequels and ports in the last few years, Medal of Honour has shown a steady decline as less and less development time has been spent on each new title and more recently Brothers In Arms which looks set to join the next gen party in the coming year. Arguably the most popular of the bunch is the Call of Duty series, which was the first of its kind to venture on to the next generation scene and was met with critical acclaim as one of the Xbox 360ís best launch titles. Since then, developers Infinity Ward have moved on to focus on other projects and the mantle has been passed over to Treyarch.
And everything from first impressions seems to be running just as it always has. Players are met with a brief training mission where they can learn the fundamentals of the game such as shooting and throwing grenades, but as weíve come to expect the feeling of calm among you and your comrades is short lived. In a flash, youíre thrown head first into a raging war and itís here where your newly learnt skills will mean the difference between life and death. And if first impressions meant anything then Call of Duty 3 would be the greatest game of all time because the opening level is nothing short of astounding. Everywhere you look it’s total mayhem as fellow soldiers scramble for cover, bullets zip past your ears and explosions shake the battlefield. It was always going to be difficult topping the D-Day landing but Treyarch managed it; a good start then.
The game controls are identical to its predecessor, so players familiar with the series will feel right at home with Call of Duty 3. There are a few small additions to the gameplay; the main one being close-quarters fights which are sequences that take place randomly throughout the campaign, requiring the player to correctly follow on-screen instructions using face buttons to finish off their enemy. Although it can be quite a thrilling experience at first, it soon becomes tiresome, but thankfully these sequences are thinly spread out enough for it not to spoil the experience.
So after a good start itís hard to see how the campaign can get any better and unfortunately it never manages to reach the heights experienced in the first half-hour of the game. Mission objectives follow the same basic pattern of either moving you and your team from point A to point B, planting explosives on specific targets or defending an area for a certain amount of time until help arrives. The game tries to mix things up by introducing vehicle-based missions however these arenít particularly exciting, but it does break up the action and after an intense fire fight well.
It’s important that a war-based shooter is believable and Treyarch have done a fantastic job of making Call of Duty 3 look as gritty and detailed as possible. The game is one of the system’s best looking games and it all adds to the immersion of making the player feel like theyíre in a war. Buildings are derelict and have been clearly ravaged by years of conflict and forests are full of lush greenery where each individual leaf wilts to the ground under the weight of the player or a vehicle. Itís also helped by a steady frame-rate that never skips a beat even during the most crowded sections of the campaign. Itís clear Treyarch have utilised the power of the Xbox 360 to its full potential with Call of Duty 3.
Once youíre finished with the main campaign which shouldnít take you more than 7-10 hours on the default difficulty setting youíll be fully trained and prepared for the battles that lay ahead online. It now supports up to 24 players and itís very much different to Call of Duty 2. Much like Battlefield you can now choose different class types of solider ranging from light assault to medic. Each type has different strengths and weaknesses and it is knowing where and when to use them that will determine how well you fare online. Battles are always frenetic and I didnít once notice any lag that would hamper the playing experience. Itís online where you will get the most enjoyment and bang for your buck from Call of Duty 3 and there are not many games on the system that can match this for sheer fun especially with a friend.
Call of Duty 3ís unique ideas arenít enough to separate it from the rest of the pack and it doesnít maintain the incredibly high standards set at the start of the game. However, amongst a crowded genre Call of Duty 3 manages to stand tall and delivers a solid, if unspectacular recreation of World War II.
Seven out of ten