Call of Duty 2 Review

There are plenty of World War 2 shooters out there, but Call of Duty 2 has the distinction of being the first one to appear on the Xbox 360.  And this is one great way to kick off the genre.  Call of Duty 2 is pretty much the same game as its PC cousin, if you happen to have a tricked-out rig that can play the game at its highest detail levels.  Yep, let me just start out with the graphics and say that the game looks beautiful, with detailed characters and environments and great special effects.  If you're lucky enough to have your Xbox 360 hooked up to an HD TV or a widescreen flat panel computer monitor, then your jaw will drop the first time you play the game.  Don't leave it dropped for too long, though, as the action is almost non-stop, and in war "action" means people shooting at you...

Fighting in the streets of Stalingrad.
If you're new to the Call of Duty games, they're an Allied tour de force that put you into the combat boots of American, British, and Russian soldiers during some of the most important battles of World War 2 - in the case of Call of Duty 2 you'll find yourself in Stalingrad, North Africa, and Normandy.  What really sets the Call of Duty games apart from most World War 2 shooters is the size and fury of the battles.  You're not just some lone cowboy of a soldier picking off a handful of Germans here and there as you single-handedly drive on Berlin, but one soldier in an army that is facing another army.  The first full mission of the Russian campaign takes place in Stalingrad and after some house to house fighting you’ll find yourself holing up in a bombed out building preparing for a full-scale German assault across a large open square. Your commanders yell things like “get ready” and “they’re coming” as the Germans fill the square with smoke, and you can really feel the tension build while waiting for the inevitable assault. Soon the Germans come pouring out of the smoke, so many of them in fact that before you know it you’ll be face to face with at least a couple of them. They'll charge directly at your positions, come down on your flanks, and come pouring through the doors of your building if you're not careful.  If you survive the onslaught, you’ll need to counterattack across the square, take out the German machine gun nests on the other side, and then demolish an entire building filled with Germans by placing explosive charges in a few key locations. And all of that is just one part of the first mission!  And that pace is maintained through the entire game, one exciting mission after the other that will leave you with a slight oversupply of adrenaline when you're through.

Call of Duty 2 brings an innovation to the first person shooter - there is no health meter. Instead, as you take hits in battle the screen will start to turn red around the edges and become redder as your injuries mount. You’ll then be given a warning that you’re in serious trouble and that you should take a little time to rest out of the line of fire. This is good advice as a short rest will clear up your injuries and you’ll be good as new. I know what you’re thinking, but it’s no less realistic than running around looking for magic medkits and frankly this mechanism is far better. I for one would match rather catch a breather than go backtracking through the level on a time-consuming medkit hunt. Also, this completely eliminates the situation where you find yourself with a point or two of health left, no medkits, and facing a particularly tricky stretch of the mission. Is it really that much more fun or realistic to have to go back through your save file list, reload, and try to replay the mission in an attempt to get back to the same spot with a few more health points? Not to me it isn’t, and I’d love to see more shooters adopt Call of Duty 2’s health system.  This doesn't make the game a cakewalk either.  Play at the veteran level and one or two hits will drop you where you stand.


Also reviewed on:
  •  · PC