Review by sfcalimari
"Some intense and perfectly executed fps moments, but few improvements, annoying team AI, and bad online play"
By now the Call of Duty series has established itself as quite a major series for PS2. Despite the critics' panning of it, I found COD Finest Hour to be a truly classic game, with fun and often huge levels, weapons that felt perfect, and a lot of difficulty. COD Big Red One, the followup, really left me cold, with its linear levels and unpolished controls; however BRO turned out to be quite a popular game overall. So how does the new COD3 pan out? I was pretty concerned because COD3 for ps2 was basically ported from the next-gen console versions, and games ported from superior consoles to the plucky ps2 generally play pretty badly. Also, honestly, there have been too many WW2 console games, and I hoped that COD3 could do something original that signaled new directions that WW2 fps games could go in.
Well, overall, some of my concerns were allayed, but some of them turned out to be very much warranted. The game looks surprisingly great, but there are a few graphical issues. Gameplay is overall quite fun and intense, but there are several annoying features, some new, that really bring down the gameplay and make the game more annoying than it needs to be. Also, from what I saw, the online multiplayer is almost unplayable due to a bad framerate and dull maps.
The gameplay is pretty much what you would expect. Fierce fps-style firefights. Overall, I really found the basic nature of the gameplay to be really quite good: very intense, with you slowly trying to move forward and break through into the next area without being cut down. The firefights are generally more intense than most fps games; however you may be annoyed to find that there is a fair amount of enemy spawning which can get annoying--you can try to clear out an enemy location so you're in the clear, only to see more enemies rushing out. This feels a bit gimmicky, but most of the time the action is so fast and furious that you won't notice much.
In any fps games, the level maps are pretty important, and COD3 does have some decent maps, but also has too many boring ones which are too linear. Often you will have to set off bombs, or hit switches, which brings up some button sequence you have to complete; kind of boring and annoying. Also, as you might have heard, every now and then an enemy soldier will melee you at a scripted point, and you have to hit R1 and L1 alternatively to wrestle the enemy off. The first or second time this happens your heart might skip a beat, but after a few of these encounters this gimmick gets annoying.
Well, now I have to talk about your teammates, which are probably the single-most annoying aspect of the game. You pretty much always have about 5 or so teammates with you, and they are always there. Now I know that COD is trying to give you a sense of being in a squad, but I for one am getting sick of these WW2 games with a dumb squad that won't go away, and in COD3 your squad is annoying to the point of killing the game, simply because they are always standing in front of you. I don't know who wrote the code for these AI-controlled allies, but that person needs to find another field. Almost every single darned time you try to shoot an enemy, every time you hold L1 to bring up your sights or scope, one of your team members immediately stands in front of you, blocking your fire. It's like they're psychic or something. I might be making too much of this flaw, but yelling "get out of my way!" at my TV every 3 minutes kind of gets old after a while. Kind of makes you want to play a game where you go solo. I really wish the team system had been left out, or changed so it wasn't quite so annoying.
Oh yeah, and another bad new gimmick is that you get to drive a jeep in a few levels while your teammates man the machine gun. I am sure many gamers have long wanted to drive a car in a fps game, but finally we get the chance to, and it's quite boring.
One thing I do kind of like is the health system. Instead of going around picking up health packs when you get damaged, your health meter regenerates if you can escape enemy fire for a few seconds. Basically you can't just rush at the enemy, because if you get hit by concentrated fire you will die pretty quick. It's a bit of a gimmick, and is disastrous online, but it heightens the intensity of the game's action.
Now I am not a graphics maven, but honestly I was pretty impressed with the graphics of COD3. They are vastly better than CODFH, and quite a bit better than the already-good graphics of BRO. I was pretty surprised that a game could look this good that was basically ported from the 360 and PS3. Characters look good, enemies look good, weapons look nice, the levels look nice. Unfortunately, the tradeoff seems to be a fairly poor frame rate. Move the camera around a bit and you'll notice the lack of smoothness. Also the frame rate can annoyingly drop whenever you are in an area with a lot of enemies, which is obviously frustrating.
Well I was pretty disappointed with the online for COD3. One of the big selling points of any COD game is the online, and unfortunately I found COD3 to be pretty lackluster. I found BRO pretty lacking overall, but its online multiplayer was fun because it had fun levels and you could use some cool tanks. COD3 first of all has a low, laggy framerate online--all characters jerk around or warp around annoyingly, making it pretty hard to shoot them. The levels are pretty weak, and aren't really suited to online play. Also the tanks are gone (with one exception), which is lame. You can use a motorcycle or a jeep in a couple of levels, but these aren't really very useful and will blow up pretty easily. Also the regenerating health levels are pretty annoying because even if you manage to shoot another guy a bunch, if he gets away, he basically took no damage from you and you wasted your ammo.
Well, overall COD3 is a fun and satisfying rent. It's not really long enough, but long enough to be worth a weekend rental if you have enough spare time. You may like the online multiplayer and its new features, but don't buy the game expecting its online to blow you away; better to rent and check it out first.
Overall this game could have been a lot better, but in the end I was pleased to see the series go back to its roots of wildly intense action, and it's fun to play as soldiers from different Allied armies, with their different weaponry. I'm not really sure where WW2 fps games are going to go now, maybe their time is finished, but I'm not sure that COD3 is anything but a retread of previous games.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 01/03/07
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