Call of Duty
I finished the single-player campaign in Call Of Duty today. (Well, technically, yesterday, since it’s just after midnight when I’m posting this.) Having made my way through the whole thing, I can say without reservation that this is probably the best WW2 action game ever made.
Call of Duty is made by the same people who made Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, and it shows. A lot of the gameplay mechanics are the same, and the “feel” of the two games is similar. However, Call of Duty improves on Medal of Honor in a lot of ways, fixing just about everything that was annoying about the earlier title. The biggest change is the shift from Medal of Honor’s Rambo-style world, in which you could blast through whole levels without ever seeing another Allied soldier, to a more collaborative world where you work as part of an AI-driven team. This makes the ensuing battles feel much, much more real than Medal of Honor’s ever did.
But the best part of Call of Duty — the thing that makes it truly amazing — is its Russian campaign. The single-player game is split into three campaigns: an American campaign where you play a paratrooper with the 101st Airborne at Normandy, a British campaign where you join the 6th Airborne in the defense of Pegasus Bridge, and a Russian campaign that drops you into the hell of Stalingrad. The first two campaigns are well executed (though the British one is a little short), but the Russian one is amazing. The developers borrow heavily from the movie Enemy at the Gates for atmospherics (in much the same way as their D-Day landing scene in Medal of Honor felt like it dropped you into Saving Private Ryan), but it’s still chilling to be dropped right into the middle of the carnage as wave after wave of Russian conscripts charge the German positions, with half of them carrying rifles and the other half carrying only a spare cartridge and being told to pick up a rifle when the man in front of them falls. For whatever reason, Americans don’t seem to have a good understanding of the scope of the sacrifice the Russians made to win World War II — a sacrifice orders of magnitude greater than ours was — so if this stuff was compelling for me, I imagine it would be even more so for someone who had no idea what Stalingrad was like.
Anyway, Call of Duty sets the new standard for first-person shooters. If you have any interest in this sort of thing at all, it’s a must-play.