LEIPZIG, Germany--Call of Duty on a handheld? That's going to be the case when Activision releases Call of Duty for the Nintendo DS around the same time the highly heralded Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare hits the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. Sure, the DS isn't exactly capable of the jaw-dropping visual graphics in Call of Duty 4, but it will offer handheld players the first portable Call of Duty experience, and it will also tell a story that runs parallel to the events in Modern Warfare.
The DS game packs a nice list of features, including a single-player campaign with 11 missions and a tutorial, as well as a multiplayer suite with support for up to four players. Multiplayer will support both multicard play, which is when everyone in a game has his or her own copy of the game, as well as single-card play, which is when only one player in a game has a copy and must transmit the game to other players over Wi-Fi. The difference is that multicard play will have seven maps and four modes, while single-card play will be limited to only two maps. The four modes are free-for-all, team deathmatch, capture the flag, and iron man, in which the winner holds onto a flag the longest during a match. Think of it as a variation on Halo's oddball mode.
Call of Duty's control scheme makes heavy use of the touch screen because you basically use it to aim your weapon. The D pad is used for movement (or, if you're left-handed, you can use the face buttons in place of the D pad), and the trigger is used for shooting. There are two types of single-player missions. The first are what would be considered "rail" missions, where you'll worry about shooting things as the vehicle you're riding on moves through the level. One example of this has you serving as a door gunner on a low-flying Black Hawk Helicopter, though you'll also be able to serve as a gunner on a Spectre gunship. The other type of mission is the traditional first-person shooter mission, where you move through a level and blast bad guys with your weapons.
Call of Duty gives you access to the actions that you'd expect in a Call of Duty game. Double-tapping on the screen lets you call up the iron sights of a weapon, letting you aim better. Holding the D pad while tapping up makes you sprint, while holding the D pad while tapping down will make you crouch. You can swap between various weapons using the inventory window in the touch screen, and you can pick up stray weapons on the ground. In addition to the shooting, there will be a variety of minigames, such as a bomb-disarmament sequence that requires you to trace the wiring of a bomb to disarm it.
Call of Duty for the DS won't appeal to the hardcore Call of Duty crowd, but then again, its audience is the more casual handheld community. The game looks good for a DS game. It's also packed with sound effects, from voice chatter to the whistle of incoming mortar and artillery. The game looks easy to play, and the three levels of difficulty will let even the most causal of players get a taste for Call of Duty.