Call of Duty 2
Undeniably, the sequel to Call of Duty has culminated in perhaps one of the most satisfying game experiences I've had in a very long time. Essentially a PC port to the 360, Call of Duty 2 definitely has a home on the Xbox 360, as this game not only looks gorgeous, but features one interesting difference from the PC version that makes it truly great for the Xbox 360 version. Essentially what I'd call a flagship title,Call of Duty 2 has a few flaws, but nothing that holds it back from being a truly good game.
The first part of this game that I've got to praise is the difficulty system. CoD2 uses a damage system where a few hits will make you 'vulnerable'. Your screen flashes red, and another hit will kill you. Avoid taking damage long enough, and you'll recover. This feature, combined with the level of difficult you choose to play at can satisfy a more casual, less intense gamer, or the one hit one kill satisfaction that many players will look for from a non-fiction FPS. Sadly, there's no way to really command the troops around you, such as in Brothers in Arms, but CoD2 also features some really stunningly good AI, on both sides, mitigating this factor. Finally, in the Xbox 360 version, there's a very limited target feature. If you tap the 'aim by sights' button while you're pointed in the direction of an enemy that's relatively close to you, you'll automatically aim straight at them. It doesn't seem like much, but battles in this game can be hectic, and this is a real lifesaver.
Although I can't say for certain, I suspect that CoD2 doesn't take full advantage of the Xbox 360, but it still manages to look great. There's a difference between graphics that look really great because they're well detailed and sharp and a game that just looks technically brilliant. From the amazing particle effects (try popping a smoke grenade), to the really great level design, this game looks great. If your ears are looking for some entertainment, they too won't be disappointed. There's an impressive battle chatter system in the game. Remember that stunning AI? Well, it knows how to observe the stage, and if you listen you'll be able to hear your fellow soldiers bark out enemy positions, warnings, and more.
Finally, I wasn't entirely satisfied with the multiplayer in CoD2. The games are incredibly fun, I mean, how could they not be? But you can't browse through open games, and it makes use of the same players/ranked match system that Quake 4 uses. It doesn't feel friendly, and I didn't like having to wait to gather players for a game. It might be a really fine line to draw, but it's a big feeling once you're actually looking for a game. Even still, without multiplayer, this game is great. With multiplayer, it's amazingly fun. Definitely worth getting.
Download Call of Duty 2
WWII games have been saturating the market lately so standing out is becoming increasingly difficult. I mean, how many times can storm the beaches at Normandy or hold the line at Stalingrad? Well, at least one more time as Call of Duty 2 captures that realistic edge that brought success to its predecessor. Although it doesn't have the edge that Brothers in Arms had with the raw language and more graphic war scenes, but you will get a strong sense of how it must have been.
To give a quick overview, Call of Duty 2 is broken up into three different battles, Normandy where you storm the beach as Americans, Stalingrad where the Russians hold their city, and North Africa where the British fight across the desert. Where many other WWII games often miss the mark is capturing the accuracy of these battles. Often you can end up firing at men who just stand and shoot or walk at you firing. Having a reasonably intelligent enemy makes a huge difference especially in a FPS and you've definitely got that here. They'll hide behind cover and fire when appropriate, swarm when they have the advantage, and throw grenades to flush you out and push you back.
Keep in mind however that this is still your basic FPS game. Don't expect must different in gameplay then the original but I wouldn't expect many to take issue with it. It still works well and the control system is effective. Probably my one big complaint is the lack of a health indication. Basically you can tell when you getting hit and when you near death but not much else. Part of this may be due to the way you are healed which happens quickly and automatically. So you're in a fight for instance, take a few hits and move on. Probably by the time you run into the next enemy, you'll be mostly healed, especially if you catch you breath for a few seconds. That may sound like the game is too easy and in some ways it can be, but have to fear, you'll find yourself restarting from the last checkpoint many times.
As you can imagine, since Call of Duty 2 is coming out on the Xbox 360 as well, the graphics are impressive. Although you won't witness them in their glory without a high end video card, there aren't any corners cut here. Detailed textures, weather effects, realistic explosions all put together a solid performance. The only issue I had was some slow down issues when too much was going on. In addition, the audio was spot-on with realistic war effects from gun fire to soldier chatter.
Call of Duty 2 continues with the quality and polish we got from the original. My only caution is on the PC requirements. There are plenty of options to adjust for your specific hardware.