Call of Duty and its expansion packs have enjoyed critical acclaim and mass popularity on the PC. On a platform inundated with World War II shooters, Call of Duty managed to distinguish itself from the pack through its authentic atmosphere and well-implemented multiplayer. An N-Gage port of the game has gone gold, and its release date is less than a month away.
In its single-player campaign, Call of Duty features the same mission-based gameplay found in it PC counterparts. As in many military-themed shooters, you are a member of a squad, and you must collaborate with your teammates to successfully accomplish your objectives. Call of Duty's first mission has you providing cover fire while the rest of the group detonates and destroys the Axis' heavy artillery. To properly dispatch your foes, you'll have the typical American complement of guns at your disposal, like the Thompson submachine gun, the M14 carbine, the M19A1 pistol, and the M1 Garand.
In general, the build we played of the game suffered from rampant slowdown, which made the game hover around 10 frames per second, though this number was somewhat even smaller during large firefights. Add to this a clunky look-control feature (which inefficiently incorporates the use of the N-Gage's keypad) and an inconsistent auto-aim, and Call of Duty definitely has a ways to go before it hits retails shelves with a fully functional single-player element.
Multiplayer sessions are what has lent the Call of Duty series longevity on the PC, and these will likely be paramount to the game's success on the N-Gage. Fortunately, these features seem to already be much better implemented than in the game's single-player campaign. Although only deathmatch and team deathmatch modes are included, the game's performance in these modes is many orders better than during missions. While this speed boost is unexpected, especially given Bluetooth connectivity's tendency to add a certain amount of lag to multiplayer sessions, it does make some technological sense. In multiplayer mode, the N-Gage doesn't have to account for so many artificial intelligence-controlled bots; it's just you and a couple of friends.
Another principle asset of the Call of Duty series is its excellent presentation. From the haunting opening score and the soldiers' vocal clips, to the decent modeling of period weapons, the N-Gage Call of Duty upholds this tradition with relative aplomb. The game is steeped in WWII atmosphere, and, aside from its slowdown issues, is pretty stylish and immersive. Gamers will encounter a welcome degree of authenticity, whether playing as Englishmen, Russians, Germans, or Americans.
Now that we've got the game in hand, be sure to check back later, for our full review, to find out if Call of Duty for the N-Gage can match the success of its PC big brother. The game is scheduled to ship on October 26.