Tuesday November 22, 2005

Call of Duty 2: My Review

I love WW2 FPS games. I started off with Medal Of Honor: Allied Assault years ago, and was blown away when Call Of Duty was released. Visually and technically, it was leaps and bounds beyond the competition. Have times changed? With the gifting season upon us, I review what I like and dislike about the newest addition to the Call of Duty lineup.

Single Player

Though I haven’t finished the missions, Single Player mode seems to be very well done. There are new weapons, objectives, and theatres of combat. The graphics are amazing! Those who have played the first COD installment will be familiar with the 3-campaign formula as you don the identities of a trio of different Allied soldiers. From tank chases to demolition missions to holding the lines of defense, the COD Single Player missions are engaging and fun.

I wish I had as many nice words for Multiplayer mode. Though fun, there are some omissions and inconsistencies you might want to know about before dropping 50 clams on the game.

Multiplayer

Did I mention that the graphics are amazing? Truly, one of the greatest things about Multiplayer Mode is the rich playing environment. And it really is great, including the sound. I do, however have some complaints and criticisms (naturally), after many hours of gameplay:

  • Maps. While the new maps that ship with the game are pretty cool, some of them are simply rehashed/slightly expanded versions of COD1/UO maps. Not only does it feel like a chintzy maneuver, it devalues one of the biggest draws of Multiplayer mode: new, cool maps.
  • Realism vs. “video game” inconsistencies. In general, there are some things that just don’t work here:
  1. The Compass. It’s a plausible tool. Most soldiers, I assume, would have a compass, and it’s not completely unlikely that soldiers would know which of their compadres are nearby. So displaying friendly troop locations on the compass isn’t much of a stretch, realistically. But in COD2, you will sometimes see red dots on your compass, indicating enemies. I don’t know if this is a helper for noobs, but it flies in the face of realism. How can you track an enemy you haven’t seen? It makes no sense, but there it is: locations of enemy troops beyond your field of vision. Are your buddies radioing back their locations? I don’t know, but it feels dumb.
  2. On-screen Death icons. Multiplayer Mode also displays a little icon when an dead body is nearby. I’m not entirely sure what this is meant to accomplish. Warn you that a recent firefight was nearby? The icons clutter the screen.
  3. Grenade Warnings. Okay, enough. In COD1, one of the real bonuses of grenade use was its sneakiness. Someone chasing you? Toss a nade behind you and watch your enemy cluelessly charge around a corner, right into its blast. That’s realistic. Unless you see or hear a nade, you can’t possibly know it’s there. In COD2, however, there is a nade indicator that not only shows you onscreen that a nade is nearby, it tells you what direction it lies in!!! Now when an enemy throws a nade into a room behind you you’ll see the nade indicator warning you to get out, even if you didn’t hear it. So. Lame.
  4. No health indicator. I don’t really miss it, but with all the other totally unrealistic stuff going on during gameplay, they might as well have put in a health indicator. Maybe it’s irrelevant since I have yet to see any indication of health packs or means of boosting one’s health.

Features: Missing In Action

There are some things that fans of COD1/UO Multiplayer will find painfully missing:

  • Cooking Nades. Another great tactic of COD1/UO was “cooking” grenades. You could pull the pin, time the fuse detonation, and chuck it at your foes. Cooking grenades meant that you could conceivably time your grenade toss so that your enemy had no time to escape. Realistic and fun, but absent by default in COD2 (though a mod has been added already for those using Autodownload).
  • Sprinting. I believe this was introduced in COD:UO, and it’s fantastic. You can sprint for a short amount of time, giving players a realistic advantage in many situations. Though you’re always running in the game, sprinting is that burst of speed you need when crossing open ground or charging a position. Sadly, sprinting is not present in COD2. Have fun slowly lumbering over open ground, kids. It’s no picnic.
  • No Vehicles. What, did COD:UO never happen? Is Grey Matter holding the code hostage? I have yet to find an operable tank or jeep in COD2, which is super-disappointing.
  • No Tripwires. Another suspiciously missing COD:UO feature. I never used it much, but it was awesome. Where is it now?
  • No searching the dead. CODUO allowed for players to search dead bodies for weapons and ammo. Not in COD2!

It’s Not All Bad…

Even with such a laundry list of complaints, Multiplayer has some redeeming qualities. The new maps seem to be well-planned and plenty immersive. There is also a new feature for those who love to snipe: the “hold your breath” key. When aiming down the site or through a scope, you can hold a key down to “hold your breath” and steady the rifle almost perfectly still. Now that’s useful.

In Summation

It seems like COD2 was made with the attitude that the UO expansion pack never happened. I don’t get it, and I think it handicaps the game — especially in Multiplayer mode. I’m sure most Multipayer COD2 gamers also played UO, so there’s a real disconnect between the two. While I like the Single Player game, I can’t really vouch for the multiplayer experience. I’ll probably play more UO Multiplayer, to tell the truth. And I have this sneaking suspicion that a COD2 expansion pack will include a lot of the current omissions, and that strikes me as underhanded and shifty. We’ll see, I guess.

I am no doubt going to be called out on some of these items. These are just my observations, so feel free to correct me or offer more insight. Game on!

Commentary


Chris McElligott » 4403 days ago #

Is this on PC or Xbox?

Jared Christensen » 4403 days ago #

Sorry, PC.

Matt Brett » 4403 days ago #

Nice review Jared.

Just wanted to point out that there are some tank missions in the British campaign. They’re wicked fun too – I enjoyed them a lot more than in the previous COD games. I did a little reivew of my own and have some footage of the tank missions in the gameplay video.

I was hoping for another flying mission – the British bombing run in COD:UO was so great I’m surprised they didn’t follow it up in COD2.

I’ve never been a fan of COD multiplayer, so I didn’t even bother trying it in COD2. Sounds like I’m not missing much. Thanks for the insight.

Jared Christensen » 4400 days ago #

Matt,

The tank mission was really fun. Can’t wait to finish the others!

Paul Stamatiou » 4391 days ago #

I too started off playing MOHAA and I’ve kept playing the same genre of games. I recently picked up COD2 as well and am in love with it. I can’t wait to get back home for winter break and play it. (pc at home, mac at school)

Christian Watson » 4390 days ago #

Just had to comment about COD/UO as I haven’t bought COD2 yet – I certainly plan to though!

UO was an awesome expansion pack. I loved the bombing mission – it has tons of replay value. I haven’t played too much multiplayer so can’t comment on the issues you raised but I hope the single player campaign in COD2 is as good as what’s gone before – it has a lot to live up to.

Jared Christensen » 4389 days ago #

COD2 single player is indeed fun, though you may find yourself missing those UO goodies like nade cooking and sprinting. I haven’t finished it yet (too busy) but I’ve enjoyed every minute so far.

Tim Dinch » 4388 days ago #

Right on the money with the multiplayer comments. I have played cod and U/O since their inception. U/O was a well thought out expansion which took on board the suggestions of the community, in fact it should have been called call of duty 2. Though the single player aspect was excellent, It is the multiplayer people who drive the whole thing forward. The mp maps are just lazy after thoughts. We want a continuation of the good things laid down by U/O and grey matter who produced it. No doubt the wheel will be re-offered but not re-invented in any upcoming expansion.

Dave » 4383 days ago #

I’m a big fan of the WWII genre also, though I picked up Brothers in Arms: Paid in Blood (PC) first and am working my way through it. I have a somewhat older PC that can’t show all the eye candy, but it’s a very different experience from COD and MOH in that it requires you to learn and deploy squad tactics. In fact, if you try to play any of the levels in the single-player style, you quickly die. It took about 4 hours to figure out how to get through the first mission without making fatal deployments and getting my whole squad killed. It’s a lot of fun, though probably not for the run-and-gunner.

Jared Christensen » 4383 days ago #

Dave – That sounds a bit like Rainbow Six, which I just couldn’t get into. You’re right; tactical games much different than your typical FPS. I think I like the instant gratification of charging a bunker, sans-squad, and cleaning the lot out. ;) It’s a bummer to wait for my guys to catch up…

Dave » 4382 days ago #

Yes, I agree…that’s awesome! However, once I got the hang of it in BIA:PIB, the squad became a lot more fun. They are a lot more dynamic than Rainbow Six (admittedly I haven’t played it since the first one in 1997 or so). I think part of it is that the interface for telling squad elements where to go is actually usable in-game without taking your hands off the mouse and directional keys. Once you get in the rhythm of things, you can all move with great speed, performing overlapping actions that drive the germans into a situation where you can personally go in and finish them off. You learn the value of movement, cover, and surpressing fire along the way, which I don’t believe Rainbow Six addresses…it’s a cool blend.

Joey » 4377 days ago #

Yes, Cod 2 is indeed an improvement to the previous Cod Versions, Althought i didnt like the no tanks and jeeps, hopefuly in cod 2 expansion they will add more guns, better jeeps, and tanks ( sherman and tiger looking good with graphics ). thanks, joey.

Joker » 4364 days ago #

u have one thing wrong, really two but whatever.

the tripwires and the searching of the dead were just mods u probably download unknowly.

Maddog » 4362 days ago #

You can pick up the guns from fallen men in multiplayer they sometimes fall away from the player if they were moving look around. Using fallen players guns is essential, if your carrying a MP44 you can switch to your pistol and swap it for a fallen players rifle, then you have your short-range SMG and long-range rifle for any situation.

Marijn » 4357 days ago #

I think that features like cooking grenades, trip wires and searching dead bodies weren’t standard features in COD:UO but features from the Realism mod for COD. So it’s not wonder that COD2 doesn’t have them yet because that mod hasn’t been released for COD2 yet. I’m not 100% sure which features were from COD and which from the mod though.

m » 4351 days ago #

Yeah, it looks better, and single player is good (although somehow buggy—is it only me??) the MP feels like a big step backwards to the origional COD, which I think most everyone agreed—had pretty lame MP. I really hate all this arcade/dumbing it down crap too—skull and crossbones, nade warning, no dash. Overall, I am disappointed. I suppose they are going to copy the same tactic as the 1st one, and release an addon that turns this into a great game. Too bad we are at the mercy of these greedy companies.

/kill » 4349 days ago #

quote

“No Tripwires. Another suspiciously missing COD:UO feature. I never used it much, but it was awesome. Where is it now?

No searching the dead. CODUO allowed for players to search dead bodies for weapons and ammo. Not in COD2!”

thoes were awe moded servers that did thoes fyi it wasent grey matter

shifty » 4333 days ago #

personally, i think with the much improved graphics, cod2 mp, can just come up to par with my expectations. seeing as, most of the time, i only look for servers with mods, it adds much to the gameplay. the single player seemed a lot more realistic too, with people jumping over walls instead of going around them. and the germans taking out pistols when wounded. i think you were a bit harsh on the turnout of the game. it’s fantastic and i’m anxiously awaiting the expansion. cheers, shifty.

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