Call of Duty 2: The Big Red One Xbox Review
Carl Armstrong / Nov 5th, 2005 No Comments
In Call of Duty 2: The Big Red One you play as a private in the Army’s First Infrantry Division, through missions that take you from the desert campaign against Rommel’s Afrika Corps, into Italy and Germany right through to the end of the war. Not to be confused with Call of Duty 2 for PC and Xbox 360, The Big Red One is a separate game that marks what will likely be a final (and worthy) appearance by the series on this generation of consoles.
Even with a frenetic level of action, flying debris and bullets, smoke and other miscellaneous chaos, the game maintains a near constant frame rate throughout. Levels are designed to hide draw-in and there is never any surprising pop-ins to detract from the game experience. There is a high level of authenticity is maintained in the weapons and vehicle models. The graphics will never compare favorably to the recently release PC game, but they maintain a respectable level of quality without pushing the GameCube hardware far enough to cause problems. PS2 and XBox gamers should be very pleased with the amazing amount of detail put into the game, and the fluidity of the game in terms of the sheer graduer of the missions.
The attention to detail present in the sounds is first-class. All of the weapon sounds were recorded using the actual weapons, many of which are now very rare. Small details from the sound of spent shells landing in sand to the ricochet of bullets from the oncoming tread of a Panzer make the game more immersive and authentic. The voice acting is not only well done, but the well thought out use of voices further provides an engaging experience. Men scream in pain, shout timely warnings and give encouragement. You will find yourself using your ears as much as your eyes to gauge threats and assess progress.
Play progresses through 13 missions following the 1st Army Division (the titular “Big Red One”) through Tunisia, Italy, France and Germany. You play as the same character throughout. You will encounter a variety of locales and play multiple roles as you move through the campaign. Players familiar with console shooter will have no problem completing the campaign at normal difficulty. The missions themselves are well thought out and varied. Much effort has gone into providing a constantly changing set of goals. As you progress though the level new objectives will present themselves as old objectives are reached and the tide of battle shifts. New objectives are presented as audible commands from your officers and text messages. As mush and as quickly as your goals change, the game provides plenty of means to stay on track though an objectives list, an onscreen compass and by watching the actions of your fellow soldiers.
Levels are scripted, so if you get off track you will tend to fine your squad mates waiting around for you to catch up before opening that door, killing that last German, or jumping into that AA gun. The upside is that this allows levels to maintain the in-story cinematic feel, the downside is occasionally feeling lead by the nose. The action changes up often. Within the first few levels players will have participated in a variety of firefights on foot, manned heavy machine guns and anti-aircraft weapons and piloted a light tank through a armored battle. Throughout the game players will have the opportunity to use a wide range of weaponry and vehicles, all of which have been presented as accurately as possible.
The controls in Call of Duty are easy to pick up; even inexperienced players should find the default control scheme easy to pick up by the end of the first level. The game saves at each checkpoint, something you will be glad of the first time you turn a corner too fast or forget to duck at the right moment. Death is always a mistake away and the game stays tense and exciting throughout. Outside of gameplay, extra features provide background and historical context. Information about vehicles and weapons encountered in the game is unlocked as players progress through the game. In between levels, movie segments produced by the Military Channel set the stage for the action to come.
While some players will wish to retry levels to improve their performance, and others may wish to revisit the story, most will likely not return after successfully completing the game. On other platforms (PS2, Xbox) the multiplayer features will provide a measure of replay value, but the GameCube version includes only the single-player campaign. If you are not the type of player who will replay a game on the “hard” setting after completing it on “normal,” then there is little to offer here after the first pass through.
By now the WWII shooter genre is starting to feel crowded, and even a good game can have difficulty standing out from the crowd. Anyone familiar with the genre will find a familiar cast of characters (the Brash New Yorker, the Hayseed, the New Guy, the Bookworm, etc), but the writing is well done and the stock characters work in its favor, not against it. With an engaging storyline, exciting and varied action and quality graphics and sound, Call of Duty 2 will please fans of the previous game and might convert new players.
Call of Duty 2: The Big Red One is an immersive and cinematic game featuring a storyline plenty of action enough to spare. There is little here to dislike and some very good moments. The GameCube suffers from a lack of multiplayer, so players who own multiple platforms should probably look elsewhere.
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