Call of Duty 2

Call of Duty 2

Written by John Yan on 12/1/2005 for PC  

The original Call of Duty was one of my favorite PC games a few years ago. It's actually one of the few that I've played through multiple times. Infinity Ward has come back with a brand new engine and more single player goodness with Call of Duty 2. Is it a worthy sequel to the original? Let’s find out.

Call of Duty 2 takes you through three tours in the Russian, British, and American campaign. Between the three you will go through 27 missions in various environments. From the worn torn cities in Russia to the desert combat in Egypt, Call of Duty 2’s mission structure is very similar to the original. Like the first game, you will go through the wars in the eyes of three different Super Powers and experience different types of missions in the three. Each campaign offers unique environments giving you a nice variety of areas to fight in.

A change from the original is that a lot of the missions let you achieve the objectives in any order you wish. The compass will show you where the objectives are and it’s up to you to decide on the order to finish them. Do I take the objectives in the order presented or do I veer off the path? It does add some to the replay value and one that I really enjoy since this series is one of the few I play through multiple times. Some of the missions will change the second time around as well such as the Russian mission where you hunt down a sniper. The first timed I played, my comrade told me he was in the red building. After a restart from having a sniper bullet take my head out, my comrade now told me he was in the gray building. These changes and branching mission paths offer flexibility and replay value to Call of Duty 2.

During the course of the game, you’ll also be able to switch between the three campaigns after finishing a few missions of the Russian campaign. The American campaign will be unlocked as well after a few missions into the British campaign. If you’re stuck in one mission in one campaign, try the other one until you want to go back. This helps curb down the frustration factor as you’re not stuck in one. After you finish all the missions, you are free to go back and play any of them. So if you want to partake in the really cool D-Day mission, you don’t have to rely on a save file or go through the single player game again.

Ground combat encompasses the majority of the missions available with a few vehicle missions rolled in there. You’ll get the chance to drive a tank convoy in the British campaign and they are some of the best missions in the game. My favorite vehicle stage has got to be when you, your commanding officer, and one of your squad mates takes control of a German vehicle and partake on an action packed romp through the city. Not only are there plenty of close moments, but the dialogue is pretty funny as well.

There's never a dull moment in the Call of Duty games with the intense action from start to end. That's what I always liked about the series. In the second installment, you'll participate in plenty of firefights. Like the original, there’ll be some missions where wave after wave of Germans are trying to storm your defended post. You won’t be able to sit still long as you’ll be constantly moving from different positions to make sure the Germans don’t get through. One of the most intense missions in the game is one where you are constantly pushed back. In a real war, there are times where you have no choice but to fall back and this one particular mission really puts you in a tough spot. It’s intense, exciting, heart pounding action that really defines what the Call of Duty series is about.

The guns are pretty much the same from the first game and like the first game, I found myself using the German guns more since I could find ammo a lot easier. A nice little addition to sniping though is the ability to hold your breath. When scoped, you’ll see your aim slowly move around but once you hold down the SHIFT key it steadies out from you holding your breath. Holding it too long though will result in you breathing out heavily and having your aim go nuts before settling down. It’s a small addition to sniping but one that I really liked.

You know in my article on an FPS world, I complained about how walls with a height of 3 feet will stop you dead in your tracks. Call of Duty 2 thankfully features an ability to leap over obstacles. When you walk up to an area where you can climb over, a symbol will appear letting you know you can jump over and continue on your way. It’s a great way to get over bunker walls and window sills. No longer will your progress be impaired by a tiny little structure in front of you.

A weird decision by Infinity Ward was to eliminate all health boxes and have your health regenerate making it a more console like experience. If you take a good number of hits, just sit behind some obstacles and you’ll automatically heal in a very short amount of time. Since you are almost always in a group, I would’ve liked to have seen you heal by walking up to a medic in the group. It would’ve added a little more strategy to the game in my opinion. But because you’re pretty much like Wolverine, I never strayed from doing a few charges into a few gun fights. On the higher difficulty settings, the shots will do more damage so while you do heal automatically, you won’t be able to take as many shots. The design does take away from some of the realism of the game, but I didn’t find it too distracting of a change. The amount of time you’d spend hunting for a med kit that you passed up earlier is negated and you’re into the action a lot more. Some will like it the decision while I think the more hardcore gamers will not.

Another feature that’s more console-ish is the fact that you can’t save the game anywhere you like. There are save points, but the frequency of the points are spaced good enough that you won’t fall back too far if you do die. I would’ve liked to have seen a more flexible save system as I’m not a big fan of save points myself.
If there’s one thing really against Call of Duty 2 is the fact that the game is really, really short and the last few missions are just ok. I installed the game on a Saturday morning and the end credits rolled Sunday afternoon. In between, the game took me roughly six hours from start to finish on regular difficulty. Towards the end, the missions do get a little stale in flavor. The American campaign’s probably the least favorite of the three for me. If you’re a seasoned FPS gamer, I suggest taking on one of the two higher difficulty levels as the regenerative health design makes it really too easy for those types of gamers.

I was pleasantly surprised by the artificial intelligence in the game. The Germans will lay down cover fire and fall back to covered positions as you advance on them. If you’re trying to hide out in an area, they’ll try and throw grenades to flush you out. Enemies will take up machine guns that have been left free after you take down the gunner so they won’t stay unmanned for long. Even some of the dying Germans will pull out a pistol and try to shoot you a few more times until they die or you put a bullet into them. The enemy AI will give you a fight, that’s for sure. On the opposite side, your squad mates do a very good job of taking out the enemy. You don’t have to baby sit them and there are times where you can hang back and bit and have them clear the path for you. You won’t be left by yourself for long as there seems to be a steady supply of teammates as they go down. Call of Duty 2 is about squad action and it wouldn’t be a good squad game if you run out of squad mates.

Multiplayer options will extend the shelf life of this game and there are the usual modes. Multiplayer modes include deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag, search and destroy, and headquarters. In headquarters, you capture and defend points on the map. Search and destroy is similar to Counterstrike where you have to destroy an objective with explosives while those defending can defuse the bomb you plant. The regenerating health isn’t really a factor here as most human players who get a bead on you will take you out. When running head on into another person, you can be sure that one will go down. During my testing, I never found time to just be able to sit and heal after taking a few hits. The compass also notifies anyone within listening distance of a firefight. While the notifications do fade quickly, you’ll be sure that once you get done with one person, another will come strolling along to investigate the sounds and try and take you out. It’s too bad there aren’t any anti-cheating mechanisms currently as the servers are running rampant with them right now. If you can, play with friends you know won’t be using a hack as the game is really fun with a few people.

Infinity Ward's new engine really makes Call of Duty 2 shine. From the incredible smoke effects to highly detailed textures, Call of Duty 2's graphics really make you feel like your right in the middle of a war. The models this time around have a lot more variety. From the various shapes and genders, there's enough of a difference so to make it a little less redundant. Yes, the Russian campaign feature some women fighting along with you. I might be mistaken but I think this is a first for a single player WWII first person shooter. The clothing looks a lot better with the higher resolution textures and the way they move.

The architecture in the environments of the game is really well done. You’ll feel like you’re in a worn torn city in the Russian scenario. Between crumbling cities and the various debris that litters the area, Infinity Ward has really got an eye for modeling realistic cities. As with the clothing, the textures really set this game apart in making very eye catching environments.

Besides the modeling, Infinity Ward’s eye towards creating an immersive environment also extends to the action that happens around you. You’ll see planes fly over head dropping bombs, a jeep convoy carrying soldiers into the fight being taken down, and gun fire shooting to the skies off in the distance to name a few. The attention to detail on these aspects really sets the series apart from the others. Infinity Ward was always good at creating a complete war environment and the combination of great graphics and scripted events makes this happen in Call of Duty 2.

Smoke grenades have always been a hit or miss but no game comes close to doing it right like Call of Duty 2. When you throw a grenade out, the area around it slowly fills up with volumetric smoke. It's the most realistic smoke I've seen in a game. The effect is quite beautiful to watch and quite effective. I found myself using the smoke grenade a lot in multiplayer games to facilitate a get away or crossing a path that’s being guarded by a manned machine gun.


War happens in dirty environments and the engine also depicts this by having a lot of debris and smoke fly up. Whether from explosions or gun shots to the ground, you’ll see a lot of dirt and smoke kicked up. The dirt, when kicked up, will linger in the air and dissipate realistically.  Like out of Saving Private Ryan, the enemy gun fire will fill your area with vision impairing dirt and the game engine really does a wonderful job in producing this effect.

One of the missions that show off the nice lighting effect that the game has has you crawling through a pipe. As you traverse the pipe, Germans will occasionally shoot at the pipe to try and flush you out. Each shot will produce a bullet hole where a ray of light will shine through. It's very cool effect and another example that shows the engine has improved over the last game.

The sound's really well done from the gun shots to the ambient sounds and explosions throughout the game. Each gun sounds powerful and each gun blast is very pronounced. Since you're almost never alone in the game, you'll hear plenty of chatter from both your enemies and your friends. The Germans will communicate each other in their language as well. To help immerse you into the environment, you'll hear a lot of gunfire and explosions that are off in the distance. The ambient war sounds really make you feel like you're surrounded by activity.

Infinity Ward has succeeded in making a very worthy follow up to the original. Call of Duty 2 kicks the series up a notch with great graphics, intense missions, and awesome sound effects. The problems of being very short and some staleness in the end with the missions shouldn’t stop you from playing this game. It might get more buzz from being an Xbox 360 launch title, but the PC version of Call of Duty 2 doesn’t disappoint. If you have the machine to run the game, you’ll be rewarded with some great first person World War II fun. Now, where’s the announcement about an expansion pack?
It's more of what you loved in the first game but it's really short. The multiplayer aspect will add some life to the game though.

Rating: 8.7 Very Good

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.

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About Author

I've been reviewing products since 1997 and started out at Gaming Nexus. After writing for a few different sites that went under, it's nice to bring back a site that's not dependent on revenue and just wants to deliver news and reviews of products.

I'm  married, and enjoy first person shooters, sports games, and real time strategy games.


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