Review: Call of Duty 3 (Playstation 2)

In this review, we try not to get pinned down in the Playstation 2 game Call of Duty 3. We find out if this first person shooter is worth trying.

This game was released in 2006 as the third instalment to the console series. We are starting to gain some familiarity with this particular franchise. We first tried Call of Duty: Finest Hour. That game got an OK score. From there, we tried Call of Duty 2: Big Red One. That game got a passable score, but nothing too impressive. So, we forge ahead to see if this next game is worth a play.

Like previous Call of Duty games, this game occurs during World War 2. In this case, the missions revolve around D-Day in Europe. You take the roles of various infantry from different units. This includes American, French, British, Canadian, and Polish units.

The weaponry you have access to is largely the same as found in the previous games. Probably the biggest change is the introduction of smoke bombs. These grenades cause little damage, but can provide the cover of a smoke screen which will allow you to advance. It is imperfect at blinding enemies, but it does help.

Otherwise, weapons remain the same. You have your sub-machine guns and various rifles. Like previous games, you can “spot” for artillery through your binoculars.

Also like previous games, you can drive various vehicles. This includes tanks and trucks. While you can take the gunner position for vehicles, this game does offer a little bit more driving and even a few ramps to get over some walls. From what I’ve played, there is no air raids you partake in.

In addition to this, there are a few gun emplacements. Like previous games, you don’t find yourself manning very many. One new addition is the mortar.

One notable change does revolve around health. In the previous game, you had the option of taking health pickups to refill your health meter. In addition, you can take portable medical equipment with you to re-heal yourself. This was simplified to remove the health you could carry with you in the second game. This is a bare-bones approach. In this game, some of those bones is removed and the health system is further stripped down to remove the health bar completely. Instead, simply taking too many hits at one time will cause you to die. If you take damage, you simply hide in some cover until you just “heal” up. This is similar to the tanks in the previous game, but now, this system covers the entire game.

One feature that is added is the “mini-games”. This involves pressing various buttons to accomplish a task. Whether this is a scripted struggle with an enemy in hand-to-hand combat, operating equipment, or planting explosives, you’ll be tasked to hit certain buttons in certain ways. This is similar to what is found in Final Fantasy 7 and, Super Mario 64 (when it comes to requiring rotation of the analogue sticks).

Beyond that, a lot of more or less the same from the previous game. You have a compass that points you in the right direction (it also shows friendly and enemy positions). There are cut-scenes in various areas as well. Additionally, you’ll be given a few mission objectives to complete. This also involves either taking positions or destroying various pieces of equipment.

One notable improvement is the checkpoint system. There are substantially more checkpoints found in the game. It’s much better than having one or two in entire levels.

The maps are also somewhat improved upon to some degree from the previous game. You do have a bit more of the path choices from the previous game, but you don’t have a whole lot of that open space you got from the first game. Still, this game does have some of that corridor problem found in some FPS games in this era. While not egregious by any means, some parts of the game feels a bit linear.

The pitfall of this game are pretty big here. The biggest revolves around the health system. Dumbing down the health system in the previous game was a bad enough move. In this game, the further dumbing down of the health is borderline painful. Taking hits? Just hunker down for a moment and you’ll be back to full health in no time. Pinned down somewhere and trying to make an escape? Nope, can’t bank some health to retreat as you flop down onto the ground. It actually cramps the gameplay as a result.

Meanwhile, the added mini-games, which is found in a plethora of previous generation games, seems a bit more like a gimmick than something that adds a whole lot of value to the game. As a result, some of it just seems like excessive scripting of the game. In other parts of the game, it just feels like an over complication of an otherwise trivial task. Placing bombs, for instance, is no longer as simple as pressing an action button. Nope, gotta place the bomb, twist the fuse in and set the charge. All of which throws in some additional button presses and analogue rotation. Heaven forbid an enemy sneaks up on you in the process because there’s no way of cancelling the action once you start.

Generally speaking, while it is nice that this game toys around with some other concepts from previous generation games, it struggles to get the basics down to a reasonable level. The health system is critically stripped down to near non-existence, weapons remain largely unchanged, and the game offers virtually nothing that other games don’t already have. The main selling point is that it takes place during World War II, but by this time, there are plenty of games like this. It’s even hard to really care about the characters as the characters end up being fleeting in the end. So, a tough one to really appreciate.

Graphically, this game does improve on the previous game. The cut-scenes and scenery is an improvement over the previous game. While it may best the previous iterations, the real question is if it compares well with other games on the market. In all honesty, it really doesn’t. When compared to games made in previous games like We Love Katamari, Silent Hill 4: The Room, and Timesplitters: Future Perfect, this game ends up getting left behind. The smoke effects and explosions are decent enough, but nothing that hasn’t already been seen on a console game.

The audio really doesn’t fare much better. While I can appreciate the occasional splash of music, there’s nothing much that really sets much of a mood. The forest is arguably an exception as it does give the game a nice ambience. Otherwise, it’s far from memorable. The voice acting and special effects are decent enough, but not enough to really carry the game through.

Overall, if you are specifically drawn to any FPS game that takes in World War II, then this game does the trick. Otherwise, if you are looking for something exciting and innovative, this game just doesn’t do it. The game does experiment with last generation ideas, but features are otherwise either nothing new or heavily stripped down further. The maps are OK, but nothing huge. Even the story line ends up being pretty plain. The graphics are nothing special and audio isn’t all that great. So, a general disappointment that caused me to just turn off the console part way through out of boredom.

Furthest point in game: Died on the mission Laison River. Got too bored of the game to continue after.

General gameplay: 13/25
Replay value: 3/10
Graphics: 5/10
Audio: 2/5

Overall rating: 46%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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