Now, I wrote a half-assed review a few weeks ago (my first, so please forgive me) but it was extremely weak and garnered some criticism. I think it's time I return to my first boosting game and give it a proper review that doesn't just harp on the multiplayer. Please accept this return to Call of Duty 3 as my proper review!
World War II is in full swing. The Allies are pushing against the Axis and taking piece after piece of Nazi-occupied Europe that they can back for the good guys. Of course, ze Germans are not going to stop without a fight and that's where Call of Duty 3 comes in: you take command of various Allied country's troops: Poland, Canada, United States, French and British troops all come into play in this elaborate and ambitious game. But is the story too ambitious?
It's easy to use WWII as a backdrop for a war game. Heck, it's been the subject of more games than Mario and Luigi! Activision took the helm early by being the ultimate in war game makers with the origins of the Call of Duty series but they passed the batton to Treyarch for Call of Duty 3. This has been deemed a bad move by thousands of gamers as the difference between Call of Duty 3 and all other Call of Duty games (save for World at War) is extremely noticeable.
Treyarch is able to take the stories and intertwine them together well enough but their muddling of many other aspects of the game, both single- and multi-player, ruins a great story with terrible gameplay. I wasn't really able to get into the game as I was too busy dying countless times due to glitchy walls, magic bullets, and a ruthless AI that seems like I was fighting against an army of plutonium-fueled Supermen armed only with a can of silly foam! Sure, the main story arcs were there and were entertaining for the most part but you need to be absorbed with these guys so that the emotion is there as they get picked off by a sniper's bullet or tank's cannon. It just was a little lacklustre for my taste.
Story: 6 out of 10
The gameplay, the gameplay, the gameplay...let's break it down into two sections: regular and veteran mode for the single player campaign. Then we'll look at the multiplayer!
Playing on a regular difficulty was quite enjoyable! I was actually enjoying the times I spent trudging across Europe and killing enemy insurgents whenever they would pop up. The story did, indeed, take a major role and I was enjoying the fun achievements that I could gather without much care. It was once I was finished that I turned my attention to Veteran difficulty...Dear God, what an act of frustration. With over 40,000 TA users registered to have played the game, still only 10% have finished the game on this difficulty. And I can understand why.
To fully get the grasp of Veteran difficulty, you must try it. You are thrown into a warzone and given, essentially, the exact conditions you would get now, save for the option to replay the same life over and over again. One or two bullets can be survived but you are lucky to only get hit twice. The enemy peppers you with more bullets than much of the actual war! There's no need for rationing or conservation with this version of the SS! And the first mission, after the training, is a massive battle in a graveyard. Fortunately, open catacombs help with the cover and there are a lot of NPCs fighting alongside you but holy hell! I managed to pop the Purple Heart achievement (achieved for dying 20 times in a single level) just hopping over that first wall and trying to storm the enemy's stronghold!
This trend continues throughout the entire game with very few breaks. I understand the need to make the hardest difficulty of your game truly difficult, but there are limits! I only have so much hair to pull and so many screams of frustration to utter! And from the TA Ratio and completion percentage, I'm not alone!
I did manage to complete that final mission after numerous tries and saw Grizzled Veteran pop with its gloriously high GamerScore. The wave of relief is unbelievable. Only those who have popped a ridiculously difficult achievement (Seriously..., No Life, this one, etc...) will understand that release of endorphins when the little noise sounds and a beautiful achievement like this pops. And this game has two of them!
The second achievement revolves around the multiplayer side of the game! Going to try to 100% this game? Be prepared for the longest boosting session of your life! The General achievement requires you to obtain 40,000 points in ranked multiplayer matches. Sounds undaunting, right? That's what I thought. Then I played my first game...
First, the multiplayer lobby is terrible. Trying to connect to your friends is a crap shoot with random searching at the same time, lots of Preferred Players and a whole lot of luck. For this to work, you needed 8 players. At least 8. I would be involved in 16 player TA sessions because the last 4-6 slots were for back-ups, connections were so bad! The host would announce the time to search and then you'd pray to the gaming Gods that you would connect. If not, you're stuck with your own lobby and maybe a few others. And, once you did connect to the host, you had to hope everyone else was just as quick or else a random would jump in and not understand what was going on! One of my sessions went for three hours and the first match didn't start until 45 minutes in because of this terrible connection system. Fortunately, on August 10th, I popped my General achievement with a group of Europeans (the lag helps boost the score in Capture the Flag) and I was finally rid of the game once and for all!
Be warned, fair reader. The multiplayer is not for the faint of heart.
Gameplay: 6 out of 10
Looking at the game was something to enjoy, to be honest. The game captured the gritty realism of World War II (not that I would know, but I can match it to historical footage) and never let the player leave that world with colourful bits that just didn't match the setting. All of the weapons, equipment, locations, vehicles, everything seemed so authentic. The research that went into this game was impressive. Recent games have greatly surpassed Call of Duty 3's level of realism but it is nice to know that even back then, the company understood what to do.
Character models could've used a bit more polish (especially in multiplayer) but there was usually more than just NPCs and other players running around for your eye to train upon. You'd see flak go up in the afternoon sky to bring down aircraft, you'd see muzzle flares throughout the evening battles, you would feel in the moment.
Graphics: 8 out of 10
To go along with brilliant looks, the sound brought everything home for the game. These war games tend to have extremely good voice acting, and Call of Duty 3 is no exception. They have multiple nationalities going over key points with great emotion in their voices that they felt real.
The sound effects for the game worked well, too. Your weapons sounded like they were truly being used to ward off the forces of evil.
There were a few music cues that were of some interest but nothing overtly stirring that I would remember and make mention here. Give me a soundtrack from an epic like Final Fantasy or Chrono Trigger and I'll talk to you about music. But Call of Duty 3 is not a multiple disc-spanning RPG; it's a war game with it's focus on battle and historical accuracy.
Sound: 8 out of 10
The game, in itself, does not hold for me the interest to play it more than once unless I was going for 100% completion (which I did.) It is in the context of the two big achievements that you'll find the most return value as you'll need hundreds of hours to finish this game completely and finally put it in your trophy case proudly. And I honestly don't think there are too many with the patience to aim for that General achievement. Currently, only 4% have! Brave souls, all of them!
Replay Value: 6 out of 10
Overall, I gave this game a rough time in my first interview. For that, I apologize. Every game deserves to have a fair and honest review that looks at all aspects. It's difficult for this game because everyone seems to know only of the General and Grizzled Veteran achievement and tends to overlook that a pretty solid game lies beneath the headaches and boosting issues. Give it a try. Be open-minded. And have fun with the regular campaign. Just make sure that if you go online and are playing Capture the Flag, if you see all of your teammates huddle around the flag for no reason, you shouldn't start playing the game. Just sit quietly with them or leave because they are boosting and they need those unaware to help them out as best as possible!
Overall: 6 out of 10