The Xbox One and Playstation 4 have launched. The next console generation is truly on! Though some had wondered, given the disastrous Wii U sales, if downloadables had dealt a real blow to the consoles, it would seem that this is still big business.
So I take you back to a launch title for the last generation. Call of Duty 2 was arguably one of the best titles for the Xbox 360 and definitely its best until at least The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, the debut of which was well removed from the 2005 holiday season. Actually, it’s historically noteworthy that other than this game, Project Gotham Racing 3, and the obligatory Madden, the 360’s first holiday season reeked Homer Simpson’s socks. Still, Call of Duty 2 was a fantastic enough experience to hold you until the consistently flow of great games started coming.
Plot: 8 out of 10
Remember when Call of Duty was all about reenacting World War II battles? That’s the story of this game. There are three campaigns: Russian, British and American campaigns. No German, Japanese, or Italian campaigns? Guess they feared that since those countries were run by historical villains, they would offend people more than RPGs that let you pick an evil path.
Basically, they give you a quick briefing on your situation before throwing you into the action. I gotta say, they get how things would be in these situations just right. Especially the Russian campaign. It’s during the German invasion of Russia that killed tens of millions of innocent Russians, so you’re trying to hold the Germans at bay. There’s a sense of intensity and even panic going on. Just like you imagine happened in real life.
Graphics: 7 out of 10
CoD has never been what I consider to be a particularly glitzy series. Sure enough, this is not the best-looking game out there. Models aren’t very detailed and some obstacles are rather blocky. Still, everything represents its time period and campaign really well.
Sound: 8 out of 10
Very good voice work. I pointed out earlier that the script captures the emotion surrounding the war. The voice acting captures it as well. The discipline and determination in the British and American campaigns, and the shock of the Russian campaign (“better you than me, fascists!!!”) are just like in real life. Sound effects are also well-done, if not particularly remarkable.
Gameplay: 10 out of 10
You probably already know, but this series helped bring a new sub-genre to the first person shooter category. CoD2 doesn’t have mazes in which you can go just anywhere you want. No, you have a limited path forward. Instead of trying to find the right way to the end, you must figure out when to take cover and when to come out and shoot.
Ingenuity takes center stage because there’s not a huge amount of weapons available to you. Most of the time, you’ll use only a tommy gun and rifle (remember, this is WWII) most of the time. Strategy is your best friend here, not huge weapons.
CoD2 has some of the best level design in the history of shooters. Especially the Russian campaign, where you’re shot at through the huge pipe you’re sneaking through. More than anything else, this is what makes the game. And because of it, you’ll have a great time killing Nazis.
Challenge: 9 out of 10
These early CoD games handle this differently, too. Instead of you being a tank who can take a lot of punishment, you can only take a few shots before you die. However, you have computer-controlled allies who can help you out (you fail a mission if you happen to kill a fellow soldier). This is a very good setup. Absolute masters can go ahead to take on the enemy before the others catch up, while beginners will want to stay with them so they’ll have backup. It’s a win-win.
As pointed out, you can duck behind objects for cover. In fact, cover is what the tactical shooter sub-genre is all about. If you don’t take cover, you’ll get killed real fast Aiming for heads can’t hurt.
In short CoD2, is a thinking person’s shooter. And it works. It’s deep for experts, but not too hard for beginners.
Overall: 9 out of 10
A great test of tactics and reflexes. There may not have been a lot of good 360 games in its earliest days, but this game helped a lot to make up for that.