XBox 360: Call of Duty 3

Well I received Call of Duty 3 on Christmas Day and I finished it last night, despite the game’s best attempts at stopping me.

Now let me say that in my past I was a hardened gamer. We used to run Doom, Quake and Tom Clancy game competitions all the time, and I was a more than healthier winner of most. I played the consoles at home, and games on the PC, and played a lot online too.

Nowadays other priorities have come forward. There’s life in general, and then there’s the place that sucks all my spare time, Filmstalker.

So I’m amazed that I’ve finished the game in under five days without huge sessions in front of the console. In fact I’m disappointed.

Still, it’s not a wonderful game, I much prefer the Band of Brothers games which feel more realistic and take the time to put you in some tactically tight spots. With CoD3 I felt like I was being swept along without the time to really engage in the game.

Let’s go back though, let’s go back to the moment I first loaded the game in. It crashed. That’s the first experience I’ve had on the XBox or XBox 360 of a game crashing, and during the loading page it just stopped. It took me a little while to realise it had frozen, but stuck it had.

Luckily that didn’t happen again, until the weird thing at the end of the game. I had just completed the last level, although I didn’t realise it was at the time, and just as the saving screen began to come up I was shot and killed. Killed while the saving screen was fading in and the game screen fading out. Then I was right back to the last checkpoint.

That’s not a problem though, as in CoD3 once you’ve been killed once you pretty much know where and what to do the second time around. That was one of the tiresome aspects of the game.

Another was the traditional big boss sections. Although there wasn’t a big boss as such, there were moments of “throw everything at them and repeat” this would last until a predetermined amount of enemies were killed or that a certain amount of time seemed to pass, and these were the most frustrating parts.

The hand to hand combat moments were awful, and were just something to click through and get out of the way. They didn’t seem to flow in the game at all, and I rather wish they just hadn’t been there.

The other non fighting parts were quite clever though. The way that you had to assemble charges as they were planted involved a lot more than just “press X to place charge here”. The missions themselves flowed well together in the storyline, and moving from different squads and playing different nationalities was done very well. Although I have to take point with the overly French hating Scotsman they created, he really did have a beef with them originally which was bordering on racism. That said, the story did pan out and he began to bond with them, and it did highlight the pressures of working with, and trusting, the local resistance.

The graphics and scenery are perhaps the most effective thing about this game, it’s just a pity you don’t get too much time to appreciate it. What I particularly liked was when I zoomed in with a weapon and as I moved from near to far objects my focus would take a small moment to change and it looked superb on screen.

The gameplay is good, although it became easy not to get killed. Just avoid sustained multiple shots. Single shots wouldn’t kill you and as long as you kept ducking for cover when three or more enemies were hitting you, you would be okay. Perhaps I need to play it again on a harder level to appreciate it more, but I fear there’s no desire to go through the story again, unlike with Band of Brothers.

However the hardest part was the being rushed through the levels. I could appreciate this at times as it kept the pace up and forced you to dive into situations you would probably either avoid, or sit back from a little, and it’s perhaps more realistic. Yet I found that for the most part it meant I was just shooting a few baddies and then racing on, hardly realising where we were, what was going on around us, and getting involved in the game.

For the most part CoD3 feels very arcade like, and running about firing at anything that moves can get you very far in this game. I’ve seen it played online and it is played exactly like Quake, I haven’t seen a game played in the style of World War II soldiering. For me that’s a real shame because that’s what the game is all about.

Band of Brothers seems to embrace this and pull you deep into the story, even when you’re in the middle of the attack. It slows the pace down and keeps you in the middle of the war, and not running around.

There were several glitches with CoD3 that annoyed me throughout the game though. Backing up almost always caused you to stop dead in your tracks because you were up against something solid and couldn’t move, I found this annoying on stairways. If you were crouching and climbing slowly at an angle to shoot round a corner, backing up quickly caused you to touch the railing and just stop dead, sometimes there didn’t even seem to be anything in the way when I turned round to run head on, I was just stuck.

Objects in your way was the biggest problem, even going forward I would find myself stuck and unable to move. The only way out was to stand up, while being shot at, and start jumping repeatedly to try and get out of the way. Most of the time it worked, and sometimes I just died.

The AI was good though, for the enemy anyway. I would be forever firing at something and have one of my men walk right in front of me. Luckily there’s no friendly fire so I couldn’t shoot them, but this causes a delay in firing again, even after they’re passed and you’re coming under fire.

The tank missions were fun, although the controls of the tank would never quite work. When I tried to rotate the tank right I would move the joystick right and the tank would rotate left. Damn, I kept thinking, must invert that control for this game. So then I’d push the joystick left and the tank would rotate left. Eh? Pushing the joystick right again and it would rotate right. For one mission this seemed to happen everytime I used the tank (actually I think it’s the only mission you need to drive the tank) and it was infuriating.

Despite all this it was fun to play, just all too short. For me to complete it in five days is an unheard of thing. I’m still sitting with XBox games I haven’t finished, Halo 2 for example, although that isn’t very good anyway.

I wish there were more missions, and more varied missions. It seemed I just got a taste of what could have been. Perhaps though this is the future of gaming, a small one player game and the rest is online play. If that’s the case, they might as well just keep releasing Quake forever, after all that’s all that seems to happen with online play.

Call of Duty 3 on Amazon UK

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