Review by Bkstunt_31
"The second Call of Duty brings a better story to the table along with it's solid gameplay."
Call of Duty 2: Big Red One is the second Call of Duty game, based on the route of the "fighting first", the Army's 1st Infantry division nicknamed "The Big Red One" (giving you the obvious title of the game). Here's what I thought of the game.
The story is exceptional for a WW2 based game, especially a PlayStation 2 title, as it follows the actual path of the 1st Infantry division as they fight in Northern Africa, up through Italy, and than press towards Germany from France. Along the way you get to know your squad personally and fight with them, which results in some very touching moments later on in the game. There was also excellent interaction between your squad and various other squads. Overall I was very impressed with the story in Big Red One. While it didn't have the narrative experience of the first Call of Duty, it did a much better job of immersing you into the experience by having you getting to know your squad personally and actually caring about the soldier next to you instead of just being out to kill as many as you can (which is a tall order to expect from a video game).
Game play: 7/10
The game play hasn't changed too much from the first Call of Duty formula, or the shooter formula for that matter. You still carry two guns and can pick up almost any weapon present on the battlefield, as well as use health packs to keep on going. There are still special weapons in certain levels for you to obtain and use, and the tank levels are still present. There is even one level where you go on an actual bombing run and must drop bombs and man turrets to protect your plane (this is really a "side-mission" apart from the 1st Infantry division). The variety of the tanks and bombing run provides a good change of pace as your playing, and while they aren't breakout experiences they intermission time is appreciated.
While fun, the game play is still pretty average. Your squad mates are a little brighter this go around, but the AI in the game is still extremely stupid (the enemy will often move to the exact place their buddies just died at, which doesn't help challenge you at all!). You can now also "cook" your grenades before you throw them to try and have more of an explosive impact (which is a nice touch). Overall, Call of Duty 2's game play is a bit better than the first, but still fairly average overall.
The graphics have been improved over the last entry, as things still look good, now with more detail. The character models are a lot more lifelike and detailed this time around which is more fitting for the PS2 era. The environments have a fair amount of detail as well, so you can expect to see random items lying around partially destroyed houses (and there are a LOT of partially destroyed houses too!). I particularly enjoyed the gun's details and the loading screen, which shows you the exact route that the 1st Infantry took. Overall, the graphics are perfectly acceptable, even by today's standards.
Music / Sound Effects: 8/10
While the background music is still comprised of a dramatic overtone and the sound effects still take over the majority of the game, they did make a major improvement over the original: timing. After certain actions in the game take place, there is usually a nice mood piece that also takes place, which helps to accent the game and tries to add more emotion to what just happened (which proves that they are trying to draw you into the game and is a nice touch). The sound effects take over everything else, as you'll almost always be surrounded by the sounds of battle. The voice acting is pretty good, as there are 3-4 distinct characters that you'll be hearing constantly throughout the game and do a good job.
There isn't really too much of a reason to play through the game again, as the story or game play style won't change, but there is online play featured. Although, since Big Red One is rather old there are a lot of much better shooter titles available nowadays (but it did have decent re-playability when it first came out as you can even drive tanks online!).
Overall, I think Call of Duty: Big Red One is a definitive improvement in the series, and as enjoyable a shooter as any other WW2 based game. You can see through this game how story telling in the shooter genre has improved. Plus it is also a very cheap title, even brand new, so you can pick it up in any video game store's bargain bin. Have fun and keep playing!
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/05/09, Updated 04/11/11
Game Release: Call of Duty 2: Big Red One (US, 11/01/05)
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