“Call of Duty 2” Review

This is a review of "Call of Duty 2", a first person shooter video game played on a Powerbook G4 with 512MB of RAM (later upgraded to 1.5GB, which helped loading times), 128MB ATI Radeon video card, running Mac OS X (Panther) 10.3.9.

The engrossing play of the free Call of Duty 2 demo on my 15 inch Powerbook G4 convinced me to buy the full game and play a marathon session during the Labour Day weekend, even though the minimum requirements for the game are a G5 processor. There is no doubt that the built-to-order (BTO) 128 MB Radeon 9600 video card maked it possible for me to play this game on a less-than-minimum system. Playing at 800x600 with 2x Anti-aliasing provides adequate detail to differentiate friend from foe and I am quite impressed with the detail of the surface textures and the volumetric smoke clouds. A minor annoyance is that the game requires that the DVD be present in the drive.

The only modification I made to the default key-bindings was to choose to use "V" to toggle "aiming down the barrel" as I'm not playing with a mouse and the default key-binding is Mouse-3 which takes too long to press as it is emulated as Ctrl-Click on the trackpad.

Difficulty Level

I started out playing in the Regular difficulty level and within an hour I had finished 2 missions without having been killed— too easy. So, I decided to re-start the Campaign from the beginning in the Veteran difficulty level (I'm beginning to regret this difficulty level as the game progresses and especially during the German counter-attack of the "Comrade Sniper" mission).

Three Campaigns

The game has three major campaigns; the Russian campaign (defending Moscow, Stalingrad, etc.); the British Campaign (North Africa, etc.) and the American campaign (D-Day, etc.). Each campaign is comprised of several missions which must be completed before the next mission is "unlocked". Once missions have been unlocked they can be played and replayed independantly at any time, in any order. The cut-scenes before certain missions are video and narration taken from the Hitler Channel (aka. the Military Channel) that describe the historical context of the forthcoming mission.

The Russian Campaign

My unfamiliarity with the campaigns of the Eastern Front prevents me from commenting on the realism of this missions and the streets of Leningrad, Stalingrad and Moscow or the weaponry (I am only familiar with the famous PPSh sub-machinegun with the drum magazine). This game has been educational in the sense that I am now more familiar with weapons used during the Russian campaign— my favourites being the Russian made PPS-43 SMG (7.62mm) and the German Gewehr-43 (7.92mm) scoped sniper rifle, adapted from a Russian Tokarev SVT40 (7.62mm) design because both the Mauser and Walther designs were flawed.

Battle Chatter System

One of the features of Call of Duty 2 is the Battle Chatter system where your comrades yell-out directions and warnings about the next objective or about enemy positions (this chatter also appears as text)— a convincing addition to the confusion of the "fog of war". My only critism of this system is that the Russians speak English with a stereotypical Russian accent. I think it would have added to the realism if the Russians spoke native Russian with English subtitles.

The British Campaign

The British Campaign (one episode is the exactly as in the free demo) is more interesting than the Russian Campaign. In one of the missions, you play a tank commander; in another mission, you play a spotter for field-artillery you get to man the 20mm canon in a German half-track and in the last mission you get to shoot down Stukas with a captured German AA gun emplacement.

I found the tank mission to be physically nauseating and had to stop several times because of the motion of the tank bouncing around, coupled with the ever-so-slight-delay of the LCD pixels refreshing.

Except for the mission titled, "Outpost" (which required me to drop-down the difficulty to Regular so I could complete this particular mission), this campaign was pretty easy— winding your way through a town or through tunnels and killing the enemy.

A Criticism

One complaint I have about how this game is designed is that I cannot choose to play individual missions within a campaign and I cannot choose a different difficulty level for each mission. Since some missions are more difficult than others, I would have preferred to gradually increase the difficulty level on a single mission and work my way up to Veteran— this is what I found enjoyable when playing the Demo.

The American Campaign

It is plainly evident, when playing the final campaign in Call of Duty 2, why the game requires a minimum G5 CPU. The first mission is the D-Day assault on Point du Hoc by the U.S. Rangers. Once the cliff is scaled, the wide-open area at the top causes the game to lag excrutiatingly making game-play very difficult. Once you enter the a tunnel or bunker, however, it becomes playable.

I did enjoy playing this mission, despite the problems, only because of the attention to detail that the creators have put all through the game. There are puddles in the trenches, and these puddles reflect the wooden beams across the top of trenches. I actually stopped and admired this effect. In a subsequent British mission, outside Caen, the atmosphere is a rainy night and the individual rain-drops make pretty splashes in the night. I was very impressed. If the game looks this good with the lowest end graphics, I cannot possibly imagine how good it looks with all the settings set to maximum.

I bought this game in July, and as of Oct 27, 2006, I have been replaying my favourite missions, in the most difficult mode.

Some Ideas for Future Versions of "Call of Duty"

As of Dec. 15, 2006, I am still playing this game. I was thinking that future versions could have some missions where a small team of commandos would be involved, dropped off a submarine, paddling ashore in rubber dinghies. In another mission, it would be cool to play frogmen in mini-subs, etc.

Update Feb 28, 2007: Still playing and enjoying it. Now playing "Silo" in the highest difficulty; it has taken me 3 days to achieve a single objective of capturing the Post Office. I find that since upgrading to 1.5GB of RAM, the levels load in about 15 seconds vs. 40+ seconds when I had 512MB of RAM. I have also grown fond of the M1 Garand rifle since discovering that it was invented by a Canadian (but who lived most of life in the U.S.) The only problem I have with it is loading a fresh 8-round clip without "wasting" 1 or 2 rounds remaining from the previous clip.

luis fernandes / elf@ee.ryerson.ca / G4 Powerbook Journal / Last updated: Wed Feb 28 23:05:35 2007