Call of Duty 3

by Tracy Whitelaw
author awarded score: 90/100

Call of Duty 3 Review
Publisher: Activision
Format Reviewed: Xbox 360
Reviewed by: Tracy Whitelaw

Sometimes a successful publisher can face a particularly tough dilemma, and it is this: it releases a title that is met with critical acclaim and then it needs to follow that acclaim with something even better. If it’s not bettered, then the new title will be bagged—even if it’s amazing as a standalone game. This is pretty much where we find ourselves with Activision’s Call of Duty 3.

Treyarch’s Call of Duty 3, if looked at as a standalone title, is also pretty darn special, but it fails to innovate or display any progression over its direct predecessor—though we can perhaps view this as either a bad or a good thing, depending on personal need. It’s bad because players generally want innovation and better gaming in each new franchise title, and if a title doesn’t have that, well then what’s the point? Or good, because, according to the old adage ‘if it ain’t broken, then don’t fix it’. So personal assessment of Call of Duty 3 really depends on your outlook.

There’s little doubt that Call of Duty 3 is a visually stunning title, it brings all of the atmosphere, frenetic action, and horror of war right into your living room. There are even a few nice additional touches this time around to keep you on the edge of your seat, such as melee combat. Yes, folks, gameplay will see you sporadically leapt upon by knife-wielding Germans out for blood, and you’ll need to wrestle with them for control by using the game pad’s left and right triggers. It’s a nice touch and certainly does get the adrenaline pumping, but this is Call of Duty after all, and heart-thumping action is what the franchise is all about. Other fresh gameplay aspects include driving levels, which are fraught with danger and are just as frantic as the on-foot missions. Riding on a tank and giving target orders via binocular use is also an involving aspect, as is rowing a boat into danger. But one of the sweetest additions to appear in Call of Duty 3 is that ‘soft cover’ can now be shot out from in front of you, and likewise around enemies. So remember, hide behind wooden objects at your peril.

Some of the A.I. in Call of Duty 3 is a little odd. For example, it’s as though by running thoughtlessly through your line of sight that your squad mates would like nothing more than a little friendly fire dispatched up their backsides. Furthermore, Call of Duty 3 is (sadly) also not without its more obvious glitches—in varied forms—including the unrealistic twitching and writhing displayed by the recently dead, or the bizarre amount of jumping that goes on all over the place. You may also find yourself stuck at times, unable to move more than a millimetre at a time until you’re released from whatever invisible constraints hold you—which is annoying. But, worst of all, you may finish a level, only to be informed your profile has changed, at which point the game doesn’t save but instead kicks you out and leaves you needing to replay from your last save point. Again, a tad annoying, though thankfully it doesn’t happen all that often and, in all honesty, it won’t cause you to quit and walk away—the game IS that good.

The sound performance in Call of Duty 3 is pretty much second to none. Aside from a few dodgy character accents, the voice acting is superlative and the sound effects are even better. The crack of gunfire, the fury of explosions, and the terror of screaming comrades, it’s all done amazingly well, and with a Dolby Digital surround sound system the intensity of battle is magnified even further via the aural onslaught of your ears. The musical score is wonderful too, and really adds to the atmosphere; you’ll never hear an air raid siren in real life (if you’re lucky) and the eerie sound of them wailing in the background is creepy and terrifying—either that or I’m having flashbacks to times when playing Silent Hill. Deaf and hard of hearing gamers will miss out on this excellent aspect of Call of Duty 3, but this will by no means ruin the game given the overall intensity brought to the player through the relentlessly frantic tempo of the gameplay itself.

The multiplayer aspect on offer in Treyarch’s franchise edition has been made to feel different to that of Call of Duty 2, and it gives you the choice of various character classes, each of which has their own specialities. This will enable an online team to utilise a little creative diversity in order to get the job done. You’ll also be able to drive around in vehicles too, which can be a lot of fun.

Female gamers will be happy to know that women do play a part in Call of Duty 3, even if it is only a small one. Isabelle Dufontaine arrives as a cool female resistance leader and she kicks ass and takes numbers throughout one of the levels. Her accent is slightly dodgy, but no more so than some of the others, and it has to be said it was refreshing when she appeared, so three cheers to Treyarch for remembering that women do play a role in wars—and always have. Despite the first-person campaign aspect, where you play as a male soldier, which is to be expected given the historical confines of the title, perhaps Treyarch will eventually work on a futuristic Call of Duty (or some other FPS) and give us girl gamers a cool female central character to kick some enemy butt with. We want strong female characters in our games as we can identify with them. Like Annie Duke who kicked ass by winning a bracelet in the 2004 World Series of Poker as part of the Ultimate Bet poker team, where you can play and win and save money through Ultimate Bet rakeback.

Call of Duty 3 is a frantic, beautiful, and aural assault on the senses. It is war at its videogame finest, where you can almost smell the acrid smoke and cordite, taste the blood, and feel the human terror of knowing you’re only moments from a fatal round. Although Call of Duty 3 is not without its minor problems and glitches—and FPS motion sickness—it is still a graphically resplendent, edge-of-the-seat action ride that, while lacking true innovation over the previous title, can’t really be faulted for that alone given that Activision’s recipe for war clearly works. Yes, a further incarnation may well benefit from something different (and more cool women please!) and it no doubt will, be it through the implementation of dogfight aircraft levels, or perhaps a new wartime theatre, but as things stand Call of Duty 3 still offers a great single-player linear gameplay experience. The new features are cool and they don’t feel as though Treyarch has added them merely as an afterthought or a token gesture of originality; also, the multiplayer component seems spruced up and adds yet more playability to proceedings. All in all Call of Duty 3 is a great game that’s well worth playing, particularly if you’re a fan of the series—though hardcore complainers will still likely see it as simply ‘more of the same’.