Call of Duty2
When a game is announced for both the PC and consoles, the question always arises about what's different between the two versions. Did any compromises have to be made on one platform or the other? Did something get lost in translation? As it turns out, the recent release of Call of Duty 2 on the PC turned out to be a very accurate preview of what Xbox 360 owners could expect to get from next-generation shooters. Almost everything that makes the PC version one of the year's best shooters remains intact on the Xbox 360 version of the game, which looks just as good and actually runs smoother than all but the most beastly of gaming PCs. If not for the online multiplayer that's limited to eight players, the Xbox 360 version probably would have been hands-down better overall. But as it is, Call of Duty 2 still sets a high standard for any shooters following in its footsteps on Microsoft's new console, and it's considerably faster, prettier, and more exciting than most any other shooter available on consoles.
As in the first PC game, Call of Duty 2's campaign will put you in the shoes of a few different soldiers fighting for different Allied factions. You start off as a private in the Russian army, visciously fighting off the invading Germans in Moscow and Stalingrad. The British campaign is unlocked after beating the first Russian mission. For most of these missions you'll be fighting in the sand-swept deserts of North Africa, alongside the Desert Rats, against Field Marshal Rommel's troops. The final mission in the British campaign sends you to the bombed-out houses and hedgerows of Caen, France. After you're done with that, you'll play as an American corporal in Europe. Yes, you will be doing a D-Day landing, but not on Omaha Beach or Utah Beach, which you've probably played several times before. Instead, you'll be scaling the sheer cliffs of Pointe du Hoc as artillery with the Army Rangers. If you already thought rock climbing was an "extreme" sport, try doing it with artillery and machine-gun fire raining down on you.
Each of the game's 10 missions is broken up into a few different stages. If you play the game on regular difficulty, you could blow through it in about 10 hours. Ratcheting up the difficulty a notch makes the game much harder and more tactical (this is probably the experience the designers intended). Since you'll be creeping and peeking more carefully through all the encounters, you'll lengthen the campaign significantly, and you'll enjoy it more.
Breaking up the campaign into several different narrative vignettes arguably weakens the impact of the plot as a whole, although that was never the strength of Call of Duty in the first place. What this does is let the designers put you in a lot of different, interesting situations. One memorable moment in the Russian campaign has you crawling through a raised pipeline to sneak behind German lines and into a fortified factory building. As you make your way through the pipeline, you'll spot and snipe small pockets of German infantry through holes in the pipe. When they fire back up at you, you'll notice bullets tearing through the rusted pipe, ripping open holes for shafts of light to poke through. It's a thrilling effect.Read full review