Thursday, February 22, 2007

Call of Duty 3 (360)

You might not remember from my update about CoD2, but I'm not really into the WW2 thing. I played CoD2 because lots of people had said it was good, and I enjoyed it enough that I thought I'd give this a try too (even though it's by a different developer I figured they would keep enough the same that I'd enjoy it).

I was sort of wrong. Like FEAR, I go through periods of liking it, and periods of hating it, often within sections of the same level, and overall I just can't tell if I think it's any good or not.

The main thing it has going for it over CoD2 (and I say this having absolutely no intention of playing the multiplayer of either, so maybe a lot of work went into making that deeply awesome), is that it's a lot prettier. The effects are nicer, the levels have more detail, and there are some swanky visual tricks like dynamic god rays (though those can often cock-up and look a bit silly). The tank levels are much improved too, thanks to the setting they aren't in featureless deserts with ambiguous 'minefields' all around - you're in nice French countryside villages. Methodically crushing a whole field's worth of crops took up a pleasant couple of minutes.

The setting does have it's downside, though. Since the whole game this time is based in one 'theatre' (as I believe the war nuts call it) you get much less variation of scenery. It's all French villages, towns and supply depots. You still swap between different nationalities throughout, but you lose the interest of seeing where you'll end up next.

There are other noticeable differences between this and Call of Duty 2, and to save on typing and having to construct proper paragraphs, I shall present them in list form:

  • This game is buggy. I've seen flying Germans and Germans flying backwards as well), hovering crates all over the place, and invisible collision that looked like a walls were meant to be there. The game uses the same 'infinite Nazi' engine as CoD2 as well, which allowed me to pass a few difficult sections because the enemies got stuck on each other, blocking up the exit to their respawn point.
  • It's full of boring non-interactive unskippable cutscenes. My mind might be playing tricks, but I remember CoD2 not having too many places where control was removed. It also had nice classy level intros. CoD3 has horrible accents and loads of places you're forced to stand and watch people slowly arguing. Its worst cutscene crime is that whenever you load a saved game you have to watch the intro to that level again (presumably while it loads). Except I'd rather watch a short loading screen than a long (bad) cutscene again, no matter how much it might break immersion.
  • There are masses of sections with you in a jeep, either driving or on the turret. The driving controls are horrible, and although the sections are filled with explosions and tanks chasing you, they just never feel exciting.
  • They've added quick time events (cutscenes where you have to press the right series of buttons or repeat and action to get the right outcome), which are shit. Planting charges isn't just a case of holding one button for a while, you have to perform a series of simple actions instead. But since they're so simple it feels like you shouldn't have to bother. The events involving a Nazi grappling with you just don't fit with the rest of the game - a melee hit in normal play is a one-shot kill, but these guys need an elaborate fight scene.
  • They've put red barrels everywhere. That explode when you shoot them. The design of this game is actually going backwards through first person history!
Still, it's not all bad though - it retains the excellent "holy shit I'm in a war with a lot of people and there's a lot of stuff going on" feeling of the previous game, with lots of set-piece things going on around you. And they've done a great job with the achievements - you get a steady stream just from completing the single player missions, and it has some not-entirely-impossible-to-do ones for playing levels using subsets of weapons, or not taking too much damage.

But overall I'd recommend anyone interested gets Call of Duty 2 instead of this. It's probably a lot cheaper too.


Matthew said...

I worked on this title, and I think you made a pretty accurate assesment of the game's strengths and weaknesses. I may have some insight into why the game turned out the way it did, if you're interested.

FreakyZoid said...

Glad you don't think I'm being too harsh - reading it back it doesn't sound like I enjoy it too much, but at the heart it's still good fun.

I'd be interested to read any insights into its development.