Review by velmarg
"The best WWII shooter, and the best game of 2003."
Video games that take place during WWII are nothing new; you've got Medal of Honor, Battlefield 1942, Day of Defeat... All great games, indeed. Enter Call of Duty, a MOH style game from the team that brought us the Allied Assault installment from that beloved franchise. This takes everything that made that game good and kicks it up nine or ten levels. From the great visuals to the amazing sound design, to the overall feeling that you're really in there standing toe to toe with the Nazis, Call of Duty is by and far the best World War II shooter yet.
Call of Duty won't blow anyone away with its graphics, but it certainly won't disappoint. When everything is cranked up, the game looks very good. Character models are good, as are the weapons. Environments are very well done. I suppose it's safe to say that as this the best WWII shooter out there, it's also the best looking.
Call of Duty's sound design is a marvel. This is one loud video game. When you crank up the volume, it will literally scare you. The weapons all sound authentic; we finally have a Thompson that sounds mean. Other effects, such as bullet impacts, footsteps, and explosions are all executed perfectly.
The music in this game really brings it to life. The symphonic soundtrack seems to kick in at just the right moment. One moment worthy of notion is the end of Pegasus Bridge (a bridge a group of British soldiers fought desperately to hold against German reinforcements closing in from all directions). Surrounded by tanks and infantry, the situation begins to seem a bit hopeless. A clock in the top right corner indicates how much longer you have to survive, and when that clock has one minute remaining, all hell breaks loose, and the sad ''we're all going to die'' war movie music kicks in. It's a beautiful moment in gaming that will likely be talked about for a long time to come.
Call of Duty features your standard FPS control scheme, with a few innovations to mix things up. First, taking a nod from BF1942, we have the ability to aim down the sight. However, unlike in BF1942 (where the screen just zoomed in when you used the metal sights), Call of Duty actually utilizes the sights on the gun instead of the crosshair. This might seem like a trivial matter, but it's actually very, very cool, and it makes the game seem all the more realistic. There's also a melee attack (you can melee with grenades, too!), and the ability to go prone (that is, to lay down in a crawling position).
Gameplay (Single): 10/10
This is where this game truly shines. The gameplay in Call of Duty is much like the gameplay found in Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, but this game takes a few significant steps forward. The most notable is the fact that you're rarely alone in this game. The best moments in MOHAA were the levels in which you were fighting with a squad of soldiers. Not only is there a lot of that in Call of Duty, but it's executed much more effectively (and believably). You'll really get the feeling that you're fighting with a bunch of other soldiers. When one of them gets taken down, you might actually feel bad. Throw in some heavily scripted battle sequences, and you have the most authentic and intense WWII experience out there. This is the closest you can get to actually being there.
The game is divided into three campaigns; the American, the British, and the Russian. All three are excellent, though the British campaign is perhaps the weakest. Most seem to enjoy the Russian campaign the most, but I personally liked the American the best. Maybe it's because I'm such a huge fan of Band of Brothers... Shrug-shrug.
Gameplay (Multi): 8/10
The multiplayer in Call of Duty is solid. There's nothing here that's worth writing to mom about, but it gets the job done. One nice addition is the ''Kill-Cam''. When you die, the screen switches to the Kill-Cam and shows the last few seconds of your life from the perspective of the player that took you out. It's a nice little consolation prize, and it helps a great deal when trying to take out that pesky sniper; the days of, ''Where is that $&!*@?'' are over.
Lasting Appeal: 9/10
The single player campaign has four available difficulty settings, so it'll tide you for a while. Even if it didn't, it'd still have a decent replay value, just because the game's so damn fun. It's one of those games that, as soon as you finish it, you say, ''Let's do that again.''
Let's not forget multiplayer, which will probably be expanded by the player community in the days to come.
Closing Comments: Call of Duty is quite simply one of the best games I've ever played. Multiplayer is good, but it's the single player that steals the show. If you're a person that likes action games, you really can't go wrong with Call of Duty. This is my pick for Game of the Year.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 01/20/04
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