Call of Duty Updated Hands-On Impressions

We spend some more hands-on time with Infinity Ward's World War II shooter at QuakeCon 2003.


QuakeCon 2003 is under way in Dallas, Texas, and Infinity Ward and Activision are on hand with an updated version of their World War II first-person shooter Call of Duty for the PC. The game currently has a demonstration mission on display that takes place in Southern France during the American campaign, just after the assault on the sleepy village of St. Mere Eglise (which is occupied by German forces), which was on display at this year's E3. In the level, you and your allies must attack to get rid of entrenched antiair guns, only to find that once you have cleared out your enemies, you then need to defend the village from German reinforcements.

Unlike in Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, the previous game that much of Infinity Ward's team worked on (which constrained you to carrying only two guns), you can carry a primary weapon, a secondary weapon, your sidearm, and some grenades in Call of Duty. You'll start out this mission with a standard-issue American gun as your primary weapon, such as the M1 Garand rifle, but later on in the map, as you clear out nests of Axis soldiers, you'll come across a Panzerfaust in a ruined church that will help you clear out the German soldiers taking cover behind tombstones in the adjacent graveyard. Once you've cleared them out, you can proceed across the level, and you'll soon discover that enemy reinforcements, in the form of a German mortar team, have arrived and are coming over a wall, which is near an embankment with a mounted MG-42 machine gun.

While you or one of your squadmates mans the gun, your company must contend with successive waves of enemy soldiers pouring into the town, at which point you'll have your pick from plenty of different German weapons, such as the MP40 submachine gun. Just about every primary weapon has an alternate-firing mode that lets you zoom in very closely on your enemies if you're using a scoped weapon or simply lets you get a slightly better view of them down the barrel of your gun. For many weapons, using the alternate fire mode causes the onscreen targeting reticle to disappear, so we were forced to use our guns' iron sights to draw a bead on our targets. Zooming in with all weapons also causes your character to move much more slowly, as you'd expect.

Holding off these enemy soldiers didn't seem too challenging, but the soldiers received backup from a huge, heavily armored King Tiger tank, which came crashing through the wall and began laying waste to the city. The tank was far too tough to even be bothered by a few puny grenades, so the mission required us to then backtrack to the church to retrieve the Panzerfaust to finish it off. The tank itself suffered from an extremely limited field of vision, but each time we wandered in front of it, it would open fire, and as we headed back to the church, it turned and gave chase, firing an enormous shell that left us "shell-shocked"--a visual effect that causes your onscreen vision to blur and muffles the game's sound with a simulated ringing in your ears. Because the King Tiger and its ordnance were so close, the effect was especially severe and forced us into a prone position, which made creeping behind the nearest bunker a slow and harrowing business, indeed. Call of Duty for the PC is scheduled for release later this year.

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