Call of Duty 3 First Look: Battle Through France

Activision and Spidey house Treyarch prove that there are still World War II battles yet to be fought on the video game screen, as we get our first look at this imposing shooter sequel.

Late last year, Call of Duty 2 emerged as one of the most accomplished launch titles on the Xbox 360--but then again, it was no slouch on the PC either. But less than a year later, how is it that Activision is already prepping a third entry in the wildly popular World War II series for release this fall? It did it by shifting production from series creator Infinity Ward to Treyarch, the LA-based development house that Spider-Man built, and a company that already cut its teeth on the Call of Duty franchise with the console-only Big Red One.

But what we've seen so far of Call of Duty 3 indicates its scope will far exceed that of Treyarch's previous effort with Big Red One. So many World War II games have focused on the famous D-Day landing at Normandy, but few (if any) have ever examined the weeks-long campaign that followed as the Allies pushed their way deeper into France in an attempt to strike at the heart of Hitler's empire. COD3's single-player campaign will center on this lengthy and complex military action, a collaboration between American, British, Canadian, and Polish forces--and of course, you'll get to play as members of all four throughout the game.

The basic action in Call of Duty 3 will naturally fall in line with what you've seen in past games--you'll run and gun your way through missions set in a variety of European locales, and the story will jump from one group of soldiers to the next as you take on different roles and complete objectives that will advance the Allied cause. In the demo mission we saw, American forces were moving into the nearly obliterated French village of Saint Lo, storming a hill covered with ruined buildings occupied by German soldiers. It was obvious from this short demo that the scale of COD3's levels has been significantly expanded over those of the last game--the battlefield was wider and more active than before, with a greater number of friendly troops rushing in on all sides of the player. In fact, in addition to a simple variety of paths, Treyarch says it wants to give players multiple ways to address a particular situation. So, for example, in one mission, you might be tasked with neutralizing a machine-gun nest, so you'll be able to either snipe, use explosives, or choose trench warfare to complete this task. The choice will presumably be at the player's discretion.

A number of cinematic single-player enhancements should keep this latest campaign interesting.

Though the core shooting is familiar, Treyarch's designers have instituted a number of new mechanics in this latest Call of Duty to keep the experience fresh. One of these came when the player had cleared an area of enemies and was creeping through a bombed-out building. Upon entering a doorway, the player was surprised by a hiding German soldier who seized his rifle and initiated a cinematic struggle that would occasionally require the player to hammer on the shoulder buttons to maintain the upper hand in the fight. The gameplay mechanic here wasn't particularly complex, but the struggle began so quickly that we could see players being surprised and caught up in such encounters due just to the thrill factor.

Another sequence had a little more meat to it, in which the player rode on the back of a tank through the streets of Saint Lo and acted as a binocular-wielding spotter for the tank's gunner. The player was able to see into any building within range and call in a strike, which would obliterate most of the targeted structure and, of course, anybody who was taking cover inside. While this seemed to be mainly a method of clearing out enemies wholesale as the player and his allies progressed down the street, one could conceivably hang out on the tank and blow the surroundings to smithereens ad nauseam in this section. Hopefully the final game will contain more such interesting sequences to complement the main shooting.

Call of Duty 2's rudimentary multiplayer was arguably lacking next to the game's meaty story campaign, so it's nice to see Treyarch is putting forth due effort to make the third game's online component far richer than that of its predecessor. The player limit has been raised to 24, which will allow for much busier matches--which is good, because it sounds like you'll need a lot of bodies to populate the class- and vehicle-based action on offer this time around. Seven player classes will be available, and each class will have its own abilities. Medics can heal fallen players, while scouts can call in artillery strikes, for instance, and you'll rank up through exceptional performance within a match to enable more-advanced abilities.

It seems like the classes will offer distinctive offensive capabilities, too--the rifleman will be able to fire "rifle grenades," for instance, which will essentially let you propel live grenades into the enemy position. Other classes will have antiarmor and antipersonnel mines at their disposal. The vehicles we saw during a multiplayer trailer also looked more action-packed than what we saw in the single-player demo. A jeep housed three players--one driving, one firing from the passenger seat, and one manning a mounted turret--while a motorcycle with a sidecar accommodated a second player on gunner duty.

A number of cinematic single-player enhancements should keep this latest campaign interesting.

Call of Duty 3 will be released on the Xbox 360 and the PS3 (along with a Wii version, which we know little about so far), and we got to see the game running on the 360. Nobody would call the last Call of Duty a bad-looking game, but still, it's immediately striking what a visual leap Treyarch has made with this sequel. From fine details--like the bump-mapped wrinkles on soldiers' uniforms and the many, individually modeled blades of grass--to the massive scope of the battlefields, complete with booming cinematic set pieces like a fighter crashing into a church steeple overhead, Call of Duty 3 looks markedly better than its predecessor did. If nothing else, it's encouraging to see developers continuing to squeeze more and more performance out of the Xbox 360.

If you thought the rapid appearance of a new Call of Duty scarcely a year after the last one signaled a possible drop in quality for this entrenched shooter franchise, we can say with some confidence that Treyarch is putting as much effort into this sequel that has made the last two games so good. It won't be that long before we find out if the effort pays off, since COD3 is due out on all next-gen platforms later this year. In the meantime, check out a developer interview and handful of gameplay movies for a look at the game in action.

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41 comments
jd14
jd14

this is gonna kick ass

ele975
ele975

COD 3 will give my eyes orgasm

ferrari2594
ferrari2594

Well let's see, Call of Duty rocked on the PC, Call of Duty 2 was balls to the wall on both the PC and 360, so Im guessing Call of Duty 3 will be no exception. Can't wait to get my copy. Very cool looking.

rocker6436
rocker6436

it looks very nice for so far I've seen gameplay movies and trailers although the gameplay was on the xbox360 conolse and the trailers are always a bit more "beautifull" then the actual gameplay let's hope the game 's as good on the PS2/3 as it is on the xbox and that it makes up for Big Red One which I found very dissapointing for the COD franchise ... -->question; I've read here that it would be (only) playable on the PS3 ?? or is it also for the ps2 ??

eiru
eiru

Wohoo COD rox! Haters to hell with their hate!!!

Dark_Jak723
Dark_Jak723

OMG.... I just cant wait till this game comes out. I cant even wait till the ps3 comes out!!! This game is going to be awsome...

Leon_Kennedy1
Leon_Kennedy1

I cant wait until i see this game!!!!its the best war game ever

maunilpatel
maunilpatel

I hope they release on PC too.. I am sure there are millions out there who wants to try it out and does not have any console like me.. so Only choice left is PC.

nick_sellars16
nick_sellars16

Its good to see Canada in a ww2 game ... finally

OmegaOrtega
OmegaOrtega

Besides those are not PS3 screens. Gamespot stated that they got to see the 360 version, not the PS3 version. I bet those same 5 shots or also in the 360 section.

OmegaOrtega
OmegaOrtega

Dude, wait until the game comes out. Don't condemn it now because of 5 screen shots. That's ignorant.

Stu_ponk
Stu_ponk

I'm a big FPS fan, but this looks no better than COD2. The graphics certainly look the same as the 360 now. Why are we wating for this? Im also fedup with the graphic layer use - reminds me of Tomb Raider 2 in the old days; the stone/surroundings are flat and blocky with a texture that seems as if someone hit the 'PAINT-FILL' button.

Notoria
Notoria

Finally, a great franchise that introduces the canadian army as a playable one!!!! Graphics look awesome to!!!

hayk
hayk

man im dissapointed with the graphics.. this is what u get when a sequel comes out like 5 months after the previous title.. gay.

metallidoom33
metallidoom33

I wish the console people could come up with a mouse/keyboard type control scheme for FPS games. I completely despise the double-analog stick controls of console shooters, so I tend to play them on PC. Halo 2 is the only shooter I've enjoyed on a console, but after not playing it for about a year now, I would probably struggle immensely, having to retrain myself to use the sticks.

LtDman23
LtDman23

I loved the first 2 so i know this is will be awesome....i just bought a 360 so ill just wait paitiently for this game to come out

TheGrandMiG
TheGrandMiG

looking forward to it! i just need a 360.... :( or a Wii. free online!

FatManK
FatManK

I would like to see a war game set in the East that is actually gd. COD4 should be set in Egypt.

oldy_van_moldy
oldy_van_moldy

Finally, Canada gets a chance to shine in a game. It always gets ignored in wwii games.

HanSolo353
HanSolo353

This is funny though, because the original Call of Duty didn't have any cookable nades, or vehicles or anything of that sort, then the expansion pack came out and gave us all of that and more, even smoke grenades, then Call of Duty 2 came out and it was like a step back, since there were no vehicles or cookable grenades, and now with Call of Duty 3 they are doing the same as they did with the expansion pack. Awww........who cares, this game is going to be the best out of them all.......I hope.

Pablo620
Pablo620

Canada has an army????????

paulwrath
paulwrath

I must say I was slightly disappointed with COD2, but I bought mine on the PC and enjoyed the multiplayer especially. COD3 looks much better and more 'next gen' than COD2 ever did.

123Dan123
123Dan123

Awesome, cant waite, Canadian forces are in this one too!

Gruug
Gruug

Although I liked the over-all quality of the first COD on the PC I felt the game was way too short compared to other single player games. Really did not feel that you got your money's worth. With COD2 I went with the XBOX 360 just to try it on the "next gen" system. I liked it to a point but was really disappointed again with the short gameplay. But this time I also found I still did not like the "feel" of the game played on a console. PC's give so many more control options that I felt I really had little control of my avatar. Quality wise it was still up to what I would expect. Overall, I really don't care too much about a CoD3 if it is going to be a console only game. If by chance it is on the PC I may buy it but only if it has more senario's and is a bit longer.

REfREak
REfREak

they need to have Marine Corp missions. Iwo Jima battles would be awesome. Semper Fi

KaMa_Returns
KaMa_Returns

Hope they release it for PC. Consle shooters aren't as good as PC shooters. Well, the Wii looks promising for shooters. Also, I'm so hyped for playing as CANADA! Finally!

payback_56
payback_56

I thought the previous 2 were good games, though they need more than 8 player games online, 8 just seems to few, especially when they have much larger games on the pc version. Especially with games like Battlefield: 16-64 player, games like that are great, but even 16 player would be enough, 8 just seems too small to me :( Also, u had a great points, a big factor for COD being great, is the incredible single player, with the events, and scripted parts, that was a big selling point for COD, the multi-player was great too, but not many games do single player as good as COD did...

Headhunter_424
Headhunter_424

im lookin forward to cod3. while cod2 was a great game it needed alot more cinematics, hopefully which cod3 will have

theunseenthreat
theunseenthreat

First off, Battlefield did not strive for realism, they just wanted a fun military-themed game. I remember playing the first COD and I think the main reason for the success is how they script the campaign to really make you feel like you are fighting. I personally didnt like COD2 though, everyone said the graphics were great but it wasnt anything special, textures werent great and the lighting wasnt either, and seeing a death animation on a "next-gen" console is definantly dissapointing, no ragdoll means clipping. Hopefully COD3 is more advanced tech wise, other than that it should be all right.

snake3rules
snake3rules

Personally I thoguht COD2 was really bad, just more of the same game we saw for the first time like 6 years ago. yeah the graphics were a bit better, but on the 360, they were pretty average, and looked more like PC. I LOVED all the old ones too. I have owned and beaten every call of duty before this. I guess because I thought next gen system, and the fact they were using the title "2" meant it was going to be a step up, like the next generation, graphically and gameplay-wise. But it seems like maybe 3 will do that, so that's cool I guess. But I don't understand why they think they're so original with this "after d-day" angle. I think all the Brotherhood in Arms games have been the days following the attack, moving deeper into france.

geoffreybernard
geoffreybernard

I must say that I was completely satisfied with COD2 (almost, i say almost, to the point of not wanting another to take its place) -and I hope that the 3rd will not change the formula to success. COD2 remains pure fun where other games, such as battlefield, strive for realism first. I hope that COD3 will be able to maintain a balance between the two --always keeping the fun factor prime, of course. Though it is surprising to most, I remain wary about the class system, vehicles, and larger maps.... I will still enthusiastically be first in line to pick up this game --and I am sure it will be as successful, on the whole, as it's predecessor.

codefalcon
codefalcon

I have to say I'm thoroughly disappointed about finding out that Treyarch has taken the reigns from iW... Treyarch's previous attempts at a CoD game was, ahem, less-than-stellar. And this isn't just some branch-off expansion of the franchise, this is *the third installment*...which could potentially be the final(e). Going forward i'm going to be cautiously optimistic at best that Treyarch will be able to deliver a righteous enough campaign to deserve to be labeled CoD3.

gothicdragon216
gothicdragon216

wow no one else wants to comment on COD3? I can't wait to get my copy, it's about time vehicles were added into multiplayer and the class based infantry reminds me of Battlefront. Looks promising.