Pros: fine gameplay, great graphics, awesome sound
Cons: Not much new innovation, just lots more of the good stuff
The Bottom Line: Call of Duty 3 is a worthy swan song for this fantastic series.
World War II games are not a rare breed on consoles, but they have the unique challenge of not being able to venture beyond what really happened and instead, tend to revel in the glories of battles past. Such is true of Call of Duty 3, the most faithful of the WWII games to date. But given the lack of innovation available in telling a historic story, its no wonder the Call of Duty 4 is going to focus on modern warfare. So does Call of Duty 3 finish off the WWII series with honor?
Read on, dear reader....
Story The story takes place after Normandy toward the end of the war. You take on 3 unique personas fighting for 4 different countries, US, Canada, Great Britain and Poland. Each story is not really a story, but a snapshot in the life of a soldier. This is certainly an interesting way of telling the story and getting different perspectives. But if youre expecting a Saving Private Ryan style of epic storytelling, then your expectations are a bit high.
Gameplay CoD3 is a first person shooter, meaning you play as the character from their perspective. You have a gun in front of you and your vision to keep you alive. Youll also have grenades and the ability to crouch or lie completely prone as the situation necessitates.
The gameplay begins fast and furious and keeps going until the very end. This is as cinematic as any game gets with plenty of water-cooler moments: Those moments in the game that will have you talking about them later with friends.
Not only is the game a first person shooter, but you also ample opportunity to drive ships and boats. Of course, the scripted events that go with it are thrilling and reminiscent of the greatest thrill rides at Disneyland or Universal Studios. These scripted event bring a sense of danger and can indeed kill your character, so they arent just window-dressing.
One of the new features of the game is the ability to throw grenades back at your attacker. If a grenades lands nearby, youll get the familiar grenade icon in the screen indicating its relative location. But get close enough and the grenade icon will turn into a fist and you can hit the X button to pick it up. You then have a few seconds to hit the Right button to pitch it back. This time limit depends on how long it laid before you picked it up, but a countdown meter will appear on screen. If you dont throw it in time, you die.
Another new feature of the game is a little-used one. The intimate melee struggle. If you get too close to an enemy, youll get a closeup shot of the two of you struggling over your weapon. You then have to hit the left and right triggers over and over quickly followed by a random button. This is a rather easy thing to do since it requires very little skill or quick thinking. I would have preferred a deeper minigame, but this might have come across as trite to diehard war fanes. After all, the allied and axis forces didnt sit down for a game of Connect 4 when fighting. So this minigame works and gives you a more intimate look at the kind of fighting that went one.
But at its heart, CoD3 is a shooter and it does a fantastic job. It gives many divers setting, lots of destroyed beauty, houses and foxholes. Not much has changed in this basic regard from Call of Duty 2, but that title was such a gem that even expanding only a little on it makes this a worthy game.
Of note, is the advanced AI. I found the good guys to be less stupid than CoD2 and the enemies a lot smarter. This makes for much more compelling gameplay as the good guys help out without the sense that they are doing all the work for you. On the contrary, they will wait for you at checkpoints and let you take the role of tip of the spear and then barrel in once the onslaught begins.
Graphics I dont know if CoD3 uses the Unreal 3 engine, but this game looks as good as Gears of War. And the comparison is valid because like that game of near perfection, CoD3 is all about destroyed beauty. The war-torn house and markets, the cobblestone streets, war-ravaged foliage all are wonderfully detailed and textured. As well, lighting and environmental effects are top notch.
The characters, too, are tremendously detailed. Wrinkles in their clothes move, blood flows from wounds, animations are smooth and varied. The characters look like real people giving the illusion that youre actually fighting with living, breathing, and dying people.
Sound Sound has always been a fantastic part of the CoD series and this version is no exception. To truly witness the sonic landscape as designed, you need to have 5.1. Not Dolby surround, but 5.1. Every bullet shot, every fall of a soldier, every ping of a ricochet is detailed, nuanced and properly separated into the appropriate channels. A true multi-channel experience awaits anyone with the proper setup. And a joy it is to listen to.
To top it off, the music is majestic, bold and hero-worthy. A classical symphonic score is just what this title needs and goes well with the rest of the sound design of the game
Achievements One of the complaints I had about the previous CoD is that it earning any achievements required the player to play the game on the highest difficulty setting. The designers obviously knew this waqs a problem and that requirement is no more. While you do get them for just playing the different campaigns, you also get them for doing things such as tossing grenades back or playing the game using only German weapons. They are creative and achievement junkies should have a good time trying to get them all
Parents Should Know This game is rated T for Teen and is a violent war game.
Conclusion Call of Duty 3 is a worthy swan song for this fantastic series.
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About the reviewer
Jeffrey Kafer (jkafer)
Voice over artist specializing in audiobook narration. Hear more at http://audiobook-voice-over.com/ and http://JeffreyKafer.com
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Call of Duty 3, the follow-up to the #1 next-generation game, delivers the intensity of being closer than ever to the fury of combat during the battle for the Liberation of Paris, the most harrowing campaign of WWII, known as The Normandy Breakout. Through a seamless narrative, Call of Duty 3 delivers the rush of unrelenting battle and breathtaking action of the Allied offensive that changed the fate of the world.