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Review: Call of Duty 2

Tears. Blood. Sweat. $49 wireless Xbox 360 controllers going through the television set, and you in a fetal position on the floor after dying on the same part of The Battle for Caen for the fifty-third time on Veteran difficulty. If this is what Infinity Ward had in mind for their Xbox 360 launch title Call of Duty 2, then they sure succeeded.

It was the second game I popped into my new 360, and any underwhelming “I-saw-this-when-it-was-called-Star-Fox-Adventures” feelings I had about Kameo’s graphics went away the second I hopped out of the back of that Soviet truck and learned how to shoot a gun.

Bells and Whistles

That is, graphics, sound, and presentation. COD2 nails all three. As far as launch games go, the graphics are good (better than Kameo as stated above) but not quite PGR3-caliber. Which is fine; what it lacks in perfect photorealism, it more than makes up for in immersion.

Other than not being able to see your feet, you actually feel like you are the soldier. Germans popping out of nowhere will send you jumping out of your seat (especially on Veteran difficulty, when you die in no time), and when you die, your viewpoint falls down and begins to blur, with a war-based quote by a famous historical figure. (However, that would be a double-edged sword: die fifty-three times, and you’ll get sick of the quotes.) The through-the-eyes-of-a-soldier thing hits its high point on the D-Day level; for the few of you that haven’t played the game, I wouldn’t dare spoil it, but it’s something else.

As far as sound goes, the game is loud. The rattling of chain guns, explosions, Nazi screams, the shouting of your teammates telling you to “throw some grenades in those windows!”, there’s quite a bit going on, and it’s all good. Voice acting’s perfect, sound effects are wonderful, I can’t think of a single thing they got wrong as far as audio goes. Music is placed where it belongs, but you’ll probably end up using the custom soundtrack.

The menu screens are decent. Nothing amazing, but they’re not an eyesore and they get you where you need to go. The cinematic presentation of the game is a definite selling point, but I’ve already gushed about that above. Load times are minimal, and what load there is in the single-player is accompanied by a journal of your soldier to give you a little background information. The game loses points for its handling of achievements - there’s not a single online gamerpoint to be found. However, awarding points for clearing the game on Veteran is probably the only reason people try it, so that was a good idea.

Single-player

This is the meat of the game: a start-to-finish World War II thrill ride spanning ten levels of Soviet, British, and American fighting, interspersed with footage from The Military Channel and one final inspirational speach by Dwight D. Eisenhower before you cross the English Channel.

It starts you off in a Russian training camp, which is where the writing really shines through. A German prisoner will be taken captive, and then you’re off to prevent a sneak attack, and that’s where the action takes off and never quits (well, maybe it slows down during the slightly ho-hum tank missions). You’ll do three Russian missions, and somewhere along that line you’ll unlock the British Egyptian and French missions, and somewhere along those four stages you’ll unlock the final three American French and German missions.

The entire single-player is fantastic, and even when you’re yelling and screaming on the hardest of the hard difficulties (out of the four difficulties, Veteran says “you will not survive” for a reason) you’re having fun. My only real gripe is that the friendly AI is sometimes abundantly stupid, stupid enough to get blown up by grenades and walk in front of your sniper scope the moment you fire. But this is a minor gripe, and other than that, it’s great.

Multiplayer

Imagine, if you will, a French player in the final match in the World Cup. He basically starts with the ball on one end of the field and runs with it to the other end. The goalie is distracted. He’s basically got this nailed in every imaginable way. But, at the last second, right after he kicks the ball, he is struck by a meteorite.

That’s a little like the Call of Duty 2 multiplayer. Sure, the ball hits the net, the French team scores, and it’s good for some fun, the point is that it was hit with a meteorite. For the first few months, it was a good bit unplayable, completely lacking lobbies. Even after the hopelessly delayed patch was issued, you still have only eight people per game, and for some reason, I seem to have trouble hitting things because of what appears to be terrible collision detection (though, that could just be me being a sore loser). I’ve never been able to try System Link, but I’m sure if you put 16 people into a splitscreen match it would be an amazing experience.

Conclusion

I think much more highly of COD2 when I consider it a single-player affair, but that’s not the case. Multiplayer or no, it’s still an excellent game, and one I highly suggest purchasing - or, you can always wait for Call of Duty 3 this fall. I’m going to give it an 8, for the sole reason that it’s very good but not quite a 9.

Final Score: 8 out of 10 - Good (how do we rank games?)

(Also, check out our strategy guide!)

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28 comments on 'Review: Call of Duty 2'

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Best Shooter on Xbox Live for my money…

Comment by Glenn on 2006-07-08 22:56:02 | Reply

Don’t agree with the online part…
I have NO game (I only have 6 but still) NO game that I play that much online (like an hour a day or more!!!)

I love the online, okay 8 plrs max is maybe a little few, but enough (for me) it keeps the game exciting, not just shoot around and kill 10 people (that’s my opinion though)

I would give the online an 11, and the offline a 12 (if you can give a score from 1 to 10 ;) )

Greetings Glenn

Most. Over-rated. Game. Ever!

Comment by Peewee on 2006-07-08 23:12:39 | Reply

No problems here at the online part after the update. It works very well actually.

I play it every day, 2 to 3 matches.

If it was me, it would have a perfect 10 for the online part (after the update)

Comment by Bob on 2006-07-08 23:26:52 | Reply

If any game is a 10, this is it. Yo, Trigger, it’s not over-rated if everyone loves it but you. That’s just called bad taste.

Nah, I’ve never really liked any WWII games, and for ME there isn’t enough, I found all the mission’s were “samey” like: “Clear house A, now B, now C.”
I went through the whole game twice, and it’s just not for me, but I respect that you like it.

Yeah I agree, solid game but 10s shouldnt be thrown around for nothing. There’s room for improvement and there will be better games than this coming to the 360, how would we rate those? With 11s?

Comment by The M.A.R.T. on 2006-07-09 11:14:38 | Reply

No, you should rate a game in the perspective of THAT time. Don’t think about possible future games that could be better. That’s no way to rate a game.

If that were the case, the first games around on consoles, like Duck Hunt on Nintendo would have get a 1 out of 10 because even though it was good we should think of future games because they should have the possibility to end up higher.

Is that logical? Nope.

COD2 in the time perspective, compared with games that launched at the same time on consoles is a great game.

One will say it’s a 10 out of 10, while another maybe says well I’ll give it a 8 out of 10.

Newer games are rated again in that time perspective. If it’s better then COD2 can be written in the review itself. Maybe old games like COD2 can automatically get a pointsystem downgrade over time, or reviewed again in that time perspective and degrade it to the level that it’s in use then.

There will always be room for improvement, but a real good game should be able to get a ten. Period

I disagree. Duck Hunt was revolutionary, this is anything but.

Comment by The M.A.R.T. on 2006-07-09 13:19:54 | Reply

I am not saying that this game deserves a 8, 9 or 10. I am discussing your statement that there is always need for improvement.

It’s not just this game, but any other. I just mentioned Duck Hunt, but I also could have put Boulderdash II for the MSX-1 there or any other game out of history of gaming

Let’s say Gears of War. It seems like a big upcomming title. That could be a 10 then.
But then there’s nothing to improve then anymore in your view on gamer scores.

We know that Gears of War II will be done in 1 or 2 years. How should we ever rate that game if it is twice as good as the upcoming GoW?

That’s what I am saying: downgrade the gamerscores after some time and see it in the perspective of that time. Leaving room in gamerscores for improvement is impossible.

Comment by Rossko UK on 2006-07-08 23:50:10 | Reply

Yeah defo disagree with the online part. It really is top notch, and is the best on Live to date. Eight players is the perfect amount for the maps that are there (with the possible exception of the new maps;though 16 would still be too many). Deserves at least a nine!

This is about the only game I play consistently. When I have time, I’ll hit up some Oblivion, but i’ve all but given up on Madden. There are 8 other games still sitting unplayed on my shelf, including DOA4 which I’ve literally played… 3 times. I’ve had Ghost Recon rented for three months, but I rarely play it. When I do, it’s for five minutes until I realize it’s no fun until COD2.

(To the point that, while we were waiting for the patch, I was “accused” of being an IW employee :).

COD2 is simply the best FPS game around. The single player is good, but I would have preferred a co-op option. The multiplayer has been great since the patch came out, and the new maps are welcome if a little blah.

But isn’t this review a bit late? :)

But isn’t this review a bit late? Yeah it is but better late than never. It could be useful for when the game drops in price etc. and it’s always nice to see how a game holds up after a couple of months with patches etc. :)

Comment by Rossko UK on 2006-07-09 00:09:04 | Reply

Or when the Game of the Year edition comes out maybe?!

The maps are “blah”?! The new maps are shit hot, much better than the other released ones. All in all, the game is great, and is still probably the best game on the 360 to date, especially if it is top of the most played games on Live every week (see Major Nelsons blog) with the exception of Halo 2 (though shit).

None of them are “original” - they’re all half-assed reworkings of existing maps.

From the first four released, only Beaumont-Hague (from the Skirmish pack) and Wallendar (from the Bonus pack) are any good. Vossenack is terrible - most games degrade into mindless spawn killing. And don’t get me started on Kalach..

In the Invasion pack (which I was buying no matter what!) - St. Louet is pretty good. Rostov isn’t bad, though there are things I don’t like about it. Antoville isn’t bad either.

Amaye sur Seilles is basically a smaller Villers-Bocage, and it’s a mess of a game to play… usually degrades into shotties and smoke. And the Egyptian map is almost as bad as the other Egyptian map :)

So all in all.. yes, they were blah. They were uninspired. That is not to say I’m not glad they were released or that I don’t appreciate having new maps to play, but I would have preferred completely new maps, not half-assed retreads of stuff we already have.

I am so glad I did not buy them…

If you’re concerned about late reviews you might want to ignore my next few posts ;)

8 is a nice grade. Gave COD2 an eight out of ten too. Multiplayer was improved over the months tho.

Comment by soul2soul on 2006-07-09 12:22:53 | Reply

Better grfx then Kameo…A BIG NOW FUCKING WAY!

I wonder if the reviewer even played both games LOL

Comment by The M.A.R.T. on 2006-07-09 13:33:53 | Reply

I’ll say Kameo is one of the most underpraised game of the 360 games, it’s much fun, for me, my girlfriend and even the kids from my sister.

That says enough. If it attracks so many gamers from different ages it’s a good game.

But hey. Grfx better in COD2 or Kameo? That’s quit difficult to say with these different styles…

Comment by Larsinio on 2006-07-09 17:22:17 | Reply

COD1 was much better IMO. COD2 was so short, i beat it within 3 days of purchasing it, not playing nonstop.

On what difficulty? I’m guessing not Veteran :)

“Easy” difficulty doesn’t count huh ;)

Easy is a joke, but Veteran is absolutely brutal :)

Comment by trj156 on 2006-07-10 15:32:40 | Reply

10/10…you guys just cant beat it on veteran if you dont like it :P

…Battle for Caen is hard :(

I’ve got 1000/1000 on the game for nearly half a year now, but I wouldn’t have graded it 10/10 either ;)

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