An intense recreation of WWII battlefields, Call of Duty is a compelling action game and is satisfying to the very end.

User Rating: 9 | Call of Duty PC
Capitalising on popular genres is gaining in popularity - and WWII-themed first-person shooters are red hot at the moment. With their current and future popularity, Call of Duty has to be pretty special to garner interest in a genre so fiercly contested. Developer Infinity Ward is a new studio comprised of many of the people who brought us the equally excellent Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, and expectations have been high for their latest title. Fans will be pleased to learn that Call of Duty is an excellent addition to the genre.

Taking advantage of what they have learned through their previous effort in Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, the team has gone to great lengths to ensure that the intense shooter gameplay is retained, through heart stopping set pieces and excellent level design. Gamers will be amazed at the authentic recreation of some of the harshest battles ever fought.

Call of Duty is not an innovative title. Thankfully, it doesn't pretend to be. The campaign is a combination of some of the best parts of other World War 2 shooters, assembled in a new and enticing way. While innovation is lacking, developer Infinity Ward have designed an excellent game that will please even the most jaded of gamers. It has rounded out gameplay derived from other titles like Battlefield 1942 and Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, but given a fresh perspective and a raw intensity that has not been previously achieved.

This is convincingly achieved by the level design, which is linear and still feels open. It has been designed to look much bigger than it actually is. Obstructions such as fallen debris and minefields make you walk set paths that easily lead you to your objectives and the enemy between you and them. You won't need to collect keys or even open doors throughout the 12-hour long campaign, the seamless design helops break down the get one key, open this door feel of other first-person shooters.

In truth, this comfortable level of creativity targets those who don't normally play titles like Call of Duty, though it also caters for the experts. It is hopeful that future titles keep the same level of design, keeping levels straightforward and still give the player a great degree of choice. Especially in an atmosphere as intense as Call Of Duty's.

Crawling, hunched down as a Tank targets you near a battered church, you overhear your sergeant yell to get the anti-tank missile and blow that mother sky high. Dodging a hail of bullets, you race through the scene as bits of rubble are thrown everywhere around you. You burst into the church, arm and equip your new weapon, and eagerly go to show your prowess. However, you are shot down from the guards who ambush you outside the entrance - they had seen you go in.

The high level of A.I as well as the all-consuming atmosphere takes gameplay to a depth unequalled by Call of Duty's forebears - there is far too much going on for you to take a breath sometimes.

Archival footage begins your every mission, with briefings showing actual footage of soldiers racing into a hail of bullets, tactical maps showing troop deployments and more. Developer Infinity Ward have struck a great balance between run and gun gameplay, and have also created a good sense of sentimentality for those who did not come back.

Call of Duty's campaign packs a sentimental punch, it's emotional and still incorporates some of the most incredible set pieces I have personally seen. Such as how all sound fades out, and a slight ringing takes over when mortars land nearby, reminiscent of the Omaha Beach landing scene in Saving Private Ryan.

Seen through three very different campaigns, you play as American and British soldiers, as well as a Russian conscript. The Russian campaign will see you push the Germans back through Russia itself, into Poland and on towards Germany. The Russian campaign is more brutal in it's depiction of war, and incredibly, you initially begin without even a gun to defend yourself.The American campaign will see you defending French villages, which are pivotal to your supply troops. The English campaign will see you assaulting and defending major infrastructures, such as a dam, a hydroelectric plant, a transport carrier, and bridges. Action deviates in several missions, with several car chase levels, a defense against a bombing raid at a small french Airport, and even a wild ride aboard a fully equipped Tank.

The tagline on the cover box states that no Soldier fights alone, and this is true, with many of your allied buddies providing support, ammunition and advice to get you through the most hardened of situations. A scene that comes to mind early in the Russian campaign has you dodging machine gunners behind pieces of building blown off and helping your allies do the same. This is how Call of Duty differs from other titles. You don't feel superpowered in comparison with those who fight along side you. You are just as susceptible to the death that is all around you.

Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Search and Destroy, Behind Enemy Lines and Retrieval make up the five modes of multiplayer available in Call of Duty. The first two are staples of shooters, so it is the last three I played with the most, and they each provide a thrilling experience. Search and Destroy tasks one team to seek and destroy an object the opposition will defend at all costs. Retrieval forces you to steal documents.Behind Enemy Lines stacks the odds in one teams favour, giving them more men but less firepower. While you can't choose a class specific character online, your weapons choices will commit yourself to a certain play style anyway. You can change weapons between games, as well.

A nice touch is the smartly titled "kill cam" which shows the last 5 seconds of your death from the enemy's perspective - which easily informs you whether they were cheating to get that kill. It's a smart inclusion because it can be used to get rid of those who make play unfair by cheating. There are a number of servers available, and even two years after it's release online play is widely supported, backed by a large and helpful community. Frame rates don't drop, and play is smooth, incredible considering just how much action can happen online. LAN play is also supported.

Sound plays an important part in Call of Duty, with the main theme being the highlight. A moody and sombre tune, it kicks into some excitable rock and percussion, and fits the theme brilliantly. Voice acting is also consistently excellent, with enemies and allies speaking in their native tongue. Voiceovers during mission briefings and scripted sections are also excellent, with their portayal being convincing. The dialogue moves things along fast, and is well-thought out and delivered. Ambient noise, such as distant gunshots, planes flying overhead, crackling fire and mortar shells really delivers the aural experience of being in World War 2.

While Call of Duty is graphically impressive, character animations are ocassionally clunky. This is only really noticeable on your allies. though death animations are very well done. Environments are as well-drawn as they are varied, from French coutrysides to Nazi P.O.W camps, and many things between. Call of Duty triumphs in variety and believable atmosphere.

Overall, Call of Duty is easily recommendable, as it challenges similar titles and does so well. What it lacks in innovation it makes up for in atmosphere and design, bringing an incredible experience to the PC. Not just for those who enjoyed titles like Battlefield 1942 and Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, Call of Duty is an excellent all-round action title which should appeal to just about anyone who is a gamer.