TGS 2005: Call of Duty 2 Hands-On

Activision's next-gen World War II shooter is playable on the Xbox 360 for the first time at the Tokyo Game Show, and we took a stab at it.

TGS 2005--Microsoft's Xbox 360 showcase at TGS is hosting a number of third-party games as well as the software giant's own wares. Among them is Activision's Call of Duty 2, the first true sequel to the company's breakout World War II first-person shooter (and you thought they couldn't do anything new with that war!). We jumped onto the demo kiosk to see how the game is shaping up, as it will likely be one of the most anticipated games for Microsoft's new console at or shortly after release later this year.

The demo on hand at TGS is essentially the same one we saw back at E3 this year--except this time they're letting us drive. As we began, we were riding in a jeep with the rest of our squad into the coastal town of El Duba, Egypt, which was being held by that pesky Third Reich. After driving through the town gates, we and our men immediately engaged the enemy in a brutal firefight; we were pinned down by a machine-gun nest that we had to flank and take out with grenades before heading deeper into the city to pursue our mission.

Not surprisingly, the flow and controls of Call of Duty 2 are quite similar to those in the previous game. If you've played the first game (or a number of other similar shooters, honestly), there won't be any learning curve at all here. You'll be equipped with a couple of primary weapons--a single-shot, bolt-action rifle and a submachine gun, for instance--along with a sidearm and grenades. You've got all the same maneuvers at your disposal, too--for instance, you can duck to get behind cover and bring your weapon up to peer through the iron sights for greater aiming precision.

The demo level was linearly objective-based--we had to go from one point to another, finding the relevant item or switch or what have you. For instance, we had to find a radio station to call in a naval strike from the ships just off the coast. The next objective entailed finding some important documents that had been conveniently left out on a desk. In between these objectives, we saw plenty of cinematic, scripted events that ought to keep the action exciting. In one particularly brutal instance, one of our squadmates attempted to breach a door and was summarily shredded by a mounted machine gun the enemy had set up behind the doorway.

Overall, Call of Duty 2 plays very similarly to the previous game; the biggest improvement here is in the graphics, which feature an awful lot more geometric detail than the original game did, along with higher-res textures and more realistic animations. We noted that the rag-doll physics seem to be improved too, such as when one of our comrades was blown into the air by a grenade and hit the ground with a thud. The game appears to be a solid evolutionary step for the series, which ought to be fine for fans of Call of Duty's historical brand of hardcore shooting action.

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