Dave's View of the World

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posted 10/11/2005 by Dave Gamble
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Once in the house, I slowly approached the stairs, knowing that the Germans had probably posted a guard to protect the back of the machine gunner.  Even knowing that, they still almost get me as I came around the corner of a low wall alongside the stairs.  One soldier popped out of a room on the other side of the stairs and another was waiting halfway up the stairs.  It took quick reactions to get a shot off at the soldier in the room, causing him to duck back behind the wall, and swing the gun onto the soldier on the stairs and give him a five shot burst.  By the time I got that done, the other soldier was coming after me again.  I swung your gun back to him just in time to get a shot off before he could.

My involvement in all of this action was very fluid and did not feel scripted, although in many ways it most assuredly is.  In a very clever way, the developers have pre-positioned both friendly and enemy troops, vehicles, and events along each of the paths through a level that you may choose to take.  Crossing certain invisible points will cause other troops to move or actions to occur.  As in a movie, all of this is completely transparent to you, allowing a suspension of disbelief that allows you to vicariously experience a first person view of large scale, fast-moving fire fights.  The level of action and the highly detailed environment felt almost exactly like the city-wide fights depicted in the Band of Brothers movies, with the significant difference of having a high degree of interactivity in the story. 

The fluidity and of the action combined with the autonomous movements of the other troops mask any feeling of being led through a maze, a problem encountered in previous generation games of this type.   The feeling of being a soldier participating in a large battle, following your fellow troops and listening for the commands of your sergeant but also making on-the-spot decisions as to how to proceed, is very immersive.  Decision making is often reduced to which crate or wall to duck behind, and how long to stay there before trying to advance on the enemy.  The action is nearly constant, and there is always the requirement to keep advancing before running out of ammo.  The enemy is aggressive, but will seek cover or fall back to a better position if pressed hard.

Call of Duty 2 does a spectacular job capturing the essence of the large scale battles as depicted in the Band of Brothers movies.  The graphical environment and sounds of war are perfectly tuned to provide an intensely believable background to the tight action and fighting.  There’s another aspect of the movies, however, that is lacking from Call of Duty 2.  Part of the overall arc of the Band of Brothers series is the development of the leadership abilities of Lt. Winters.  In Call of Duty 2, you follow your squad and act as an infantry man.  You aren’t faced with the significant tactical challenges that confront squad leaders.  To experience that tactical leadership aspect of combat, you have to play Ubisoft's Brothers in Arms: Earned In Blood.

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