Call of Duty
As I Stumble on to the body-strewn battlefield unarmed, I just manage to catch a glimpse of my brave comrades streaming towards the heavily-defended Nazi positions before the mortar lands. Stunned for several seconds, I stagger for cover as a muted cacophony of machine-gun fire, explosions, shouts and screams rings in my shell-damaged ears. Collapsing behind the remains of a wall, I grab a weapon from the fingers of a victim and make a desperate dash for a doorway in a ruined Stalingrad tenement block.
Sheer panic. It's one of the many emotions you'll experience in the first 30 seconds of one of the Russian missions in the forthcoming first-person shooter Call Of Duty. We've been banging on about Infinity Ward's new WWII action title since we broke news of its existence in issue 129, but the rest of the gaming world is now finally decoding the message that Call Of Duty is going to be very special indeed.
We recently had a hands-on play of the latest Call Of Duty code, including several new levels that previously hadn't left the confines of Infinity Ward's bunker. For those of you who haven't read previous briefings, Call Of Duty follows characters from American, British and Russian campaigns over 27 levels, leading up to events that all happen simultaneously on D-Day. "British missions are more about smaller groups, superior intel, and a little more stealth and tactics," says Infinity Ward's Vince Zampella. "Russians are more about body count, about throwing guys out there, whereas the American missions are somewhere in between."
So, rather than being a grizzled American soldier single-handedly winning the war for Uncle Sam, you'll experience the conflict from different perspectives, often backed up by intelligent troops, who will cover your position, return fire and complete important mission-critical tasks.
As a passenger in the jeep in a manic chase through the countryside, you have to shoot any enemies chasing you on motorbikes, occasionally leaning out of the window for a better view. It's exhilarating stuff, as you see your car windows splintering around you, bullets pinging off the bodywork and enemy vehicles spinning off the road and exploding when you hit them where it hurts.
After a fast and furious sequence, you have to flee your jeep as it's cornered in a narrow village alleyway by a hulking German tank. The mission now takes the form of a tense house-to-house battle against dug-in Nazis, as you attempt to find another vehicle in which to escape. Your two squad-mates now start to pull their weight, providing covering fire when you need to make a dash for a safe position, and hotwiring a new car when you discover one handily left behind in a garage. "You can often tell by your team-mates where to head next, so the Al will watch doorways, for example," adds Zampella.
Next up, Infinity Ward loaded up a plucky British mission, based on the historical D-Day assault on Pegasus Bndge, where soldiers were silently flown in using gliders made of aluminium and wood to take and hold this critical position. "You want to be immersed and believe it's real, so we used real uniforms, weapons and the Pegasus Bridge for modelling and to get the distances involved," says Zampella. "We did a shoot where we rented all the WWII weapons, fired them and filmed them to gauge how the guns kicked and reloaded, and took pictures for texture and dimensions, then recorded the audio. Call Of Duty is as authentic as possible without hurting the gameplay."
Stiff Upper Lips
The mission begins with you and your Para chums on board a glider just before it crash-lands a few hundred metres from the bridge. You're soon spotted and begin a hectic raid on the German positions, backed up by dozens of troops throwing grenades, shooting guns and sniping distant rooftop Nazis. Staying prone is essential at this point to make sure you're less vulnerable, as shrapnel and bullets whiz about your head like angry mosquitoes.
Playing this level was great fun. but just as we thought we'd reached the height of the action, we were told by our plum-in-the-mouth British sergeant to "Tally ho, old boy" and capture a flak cannon. After a manic dash through the battlefield, I managed to take the enemy's huge flak gun and begin firing shells at their positions, taking chunks out of buildings and sending Nazis hurtling into the air with the force of the explosions. Fantastic stuff. Infinity Ward mentioned this was not the only stationary weapon, and that you'll be able to get your hands on others, including a four-barrelled anti-aircraft gun.
We've only scratched the surface of Call Of Duty with this preview. Infinity Ward's single-player missions range from spectacular Private Ryan-style set-pieces with more than 100 Russian soldiers fighting individual battles alongside you while Stuka bombers dive down for attack, through to exhilarating tank missions in snow-covered Eastern Europe and stealthy solo missions in which sniping from distance is the only way of destroying air defences without alerting the Nazis.
Seek And Destroy
However, Infinity Ward also revealed for the first time some of the planned online multiplayer modes, as well as confirming that there would be a bunch of dedicated multiplayer maps. As well as basic Deathmatch, team modes will include several objective-based games such as the self-explanatory Seek and Destroy, as well as Retrieval, which involves stealing or defending a vital piece of equipment. Frankly, we can't wait to get hold of the finished Call Of Duty, which barring a catastrophic last-minute retreat on the scale of Dunkirk, looks set to demote Medal Of Honor: Allied Assault to second-best WWII shooter of all time. We'll find out with our definitive review next month.
Download Call of Duty
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
War is hell, and the realization of that truth is no more evident than with World War II. Millions died all over the world due to an international power struggle, and yet, there is an almost morbid fascination with WWII among the general populous. So much so that there's been a recent trend in the videogame industry with WWII games: there are a lot of them. Undoubtedly, this trend shows that shooting Nazis is still fun, but it's never been more fun than with Call of Duty, the newest WWII themed FPS from Activision.
Call of Duty can be described in one word: intense. There are no complicated mission objectives, no key-fetching to open doors (in fact, there aren't even any doors to open), no squad-command signals ' none of that. It's all about edge-of-your-seat action, and it's executed remarkably well. You'll constantly be barraged by a hail of bullets so there's no running around and blowing up everything Rambo style. Instead, you'll have to constantly take cover, snipe when you can, and take the role of a gun-blazing hero when you have to. The balance between strategy and action is excellent, both making for an extremely fun time.
Much like titles in the Medal of Honor series, missions in CoD are scripted. Scripted events might be a turn off for some, but it works exceptionally well in CoD as the action is constant and there's a good deal of variation among missions. The one thing that CoD captures really well, thanks to the scripted events, is the chaos of war. Some of the missions (like the Red Square missions) are pure chaos from beginning to end ' and I loved every minute of it. Scripted missions do mean that some events will happen again and again each time (though rarely with the same results), but if that's the tradeoff that has to be made for the immersive experience that CoD presents, then gamers got the good end of the deal.
Going hand in hand with the incredible single player game is the outstanding multiplayer game. All five modes, which range from Counter-Strike style matches to traditional deathmatches, are a lot of fun with the same intense and thought-out action of the single-player game.
Call of Duty uses a modified Quake 3 engine (developed for a title that's over three years old), but you wouldn't be able to tell by looking at it. Detailed environments, top notch lighting effects, fantastic animation, steady framerates, and sharp textures all help to create a believable World War II setting. Likewise, the audio also immensely helps rooting you into the WWII setting. Distinct gunfire, jarring explosion, fine voice acting, and authentic environmental sounds all sound so realistic that you may find yourself ducking gunfire at your desk.
Let's get the obvious out of the way: Call of Duty is one of the finest showings this year on the PC, and is without a doubt the best WWII based title to be released thus far. It's that good. War may be hell, but I'll be damned if Call of Duty isn't a blast.