Call of Duty 2: Big Red One Review

This year’s round of Call of Duty games come with a split personality. The Xbox 360 and PC versions follow the format established by earlier games in the series, putting you in the army boots of soldiers from the American, British, and Russian armies during some of the most pivotal battles of World War II. The Xbox version of the game instead follows the exploits of only an American soldier, and one in a particular division of the US Army – the fabled Big Red One. This Call of Duty duality extends beyond the battles you face and army for which you fight, it also extends to the gameplay itself. While Call of Duty 2 is one of the best PC games and arguably the best Xbox 360 launch title, Big Red One is a run-of-the-mill shooter that for a few reasons just doesn’t live up to the “Call of Duty” name.

You're just a small fish in a big war.
You may not get to fight as a British or Russian Soldier in Big Red One, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t get to see the world during the game’s campaign. The 1st Infantry Division was the first US Army division deployed to the European Theater after America’s entry into WW2 and you’ll face battles in North Africa, Italy, Normandy, and eventually Germany. It’s like a three and a half year vacation tour with the added bonus of people shooting at you.

Big Red One does a good job of making you feel like you’re part of a much larger endeavor rather than a lone foot soldier checking items off of his laundry list of objectives. First of all you are never fighting alone – you’re always surrounded by squad mates and as you make your way across the battlefields you’ll see other units fighting the enemy, artillery exchanges, and planes roaring overhead. Secondly the game uses archival footage provided by The Military Channel to set the stage for each battle. The between-mission cutscenes play out like a well-produced military documentary and do an excellent job of providing a context for your missions against the backdrop of the entire war.

Another thing that Big Red One does well is to provide you with a wide variety of mission types. Of course a majority of the action has you slugging it out with the Germans as a foot soldier, but for a foot soldier you sure do get a variety of assignments. You’ll be called upon to man anti-aircraft weaponry to shoot down enemy planes, protect your landing craft by manning its guns, and even to take on the role of a B-24 gunner trying to keep your bomber safe.

This all sounds great so far, so what’s the problem with the game? Well for starters it’s pretty short. After battling my way through Call of Duty 2’s tough campaign I was surprised to find that I could finish the game without having to devote more time to it than I would to a weekend rental. This alone would have been a minor disappointment, but the thing that’s really a letdown about the game is the action itself.


Also reviewed on:
  •  · PlayStation 2