Call of Duty 3 is serviceable but by 2006 it was becoming clear the franchise needed an overhaul.
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One thing is certain: Activision fucking loved World War 2. Their third installment in the franchise takes place in France after the invasion of Normandy. COD3 is different among the series as it is played through four allied soldier’s points of view but focuses solely on one campaign – pinching the Germans in the city of Chanbois, France.
Throughout the campaign you alternate between four different Allied soldiers. An American soldier in the 29th Infantry, a member of the British Special Air Service, a Canadian soldier who is in Canada’s 4th (Armored) Division and often overlooked tank crew member for Poland’s 1st Armored Division.
There are things to love about the game, pretty much like any Call of Duty game. They have their own charms in different ways – some much more than others. At this point in 2006 the control scheme is modern First Person Shooter controls which is welcoming and interesting to think that it took years of perfecting to implement the almost universal controller map for all FPS games nowadays.
To be honest visually this game does not deliver. I have certainly seen worse games but this late into the PS2’s life more could have been done. Maybe it’s some of that and part of just war torn Europe aesthetic just feeling old. It’s the same drab greens, dark blues and greys. All of the houses and wreckage look the same every level. From city to bunkers over and over again. You never get any sense of direction or accomplishment because it never actually feels as if you are traveling across Europe. There is one level that takes places in the forest and is visually more appeasing than the other. Unfortunately it’s also one of poorest planned level designs of the game and the worst level to play so, pick your poison I guess.
I did enjoy the inclusion of some “lesser” popular ally choices to include as characters. This is the first CoD to acknowledge the French Resistance (that I am aware of, I could be wrong?). Also the first call of duty to allow you to play as a Canadian soldier and a Polish serviceman. All of these details I enjoyed and I was happy to learn what operations those troops participated in.
In fact it’s following both the Canadian and Polish troops that leads to the most dramatic and frantic part if the game. As you desperately weave in and out of bunkers retreating from a last ditch effort by the Germans to take Hill 262. The only part in the game to feature a climatic cascade alas you mow down Germans for what feels like days. The voice acting and animation partnered with the soundtrack make for a spellbinding cinematic experience. The screams of your comrades and the determination to avoid being overrun by a desperate, losing army perfectly encapsulates the ugliness of battle. There are no hero’s sticking around to get show. You flee, dig in, kill and flee again. It makes for a memorable experience and probably saved this game from a mediocre score.
Another nice addition to this game is not only your standard rifle stock smash (with the R3 button) but they have close quarter fighting as well. Inspired by Saving Private Ryan is my guess. Occasionally a random Nazi will spring out if no where and attack you. In quick tune actions and button mashing you have to fend him off from stabbing you or beating you yo death. It’s an intense and ugly side of war games aren’t quick to mention. The amount of hand to hand combat and brutality the battlefield enables. It’s as though it demands bloodshed by any means.
While still not as compelling of a storyline as Call of Duty 2: Big Red One, CoD 3 holds up on its own as a solid and passable WWII shooter.
But I can say this now, I welcome the change in scenery CoD Modern Warfare will provide.