• I wonder if the powers that be at Treyarch had any idea what they were getting into when they signed up to develop the follow-up to the unbelievably successful Xbox 360 launch title Call of Duty 2. I mean, who needs that kind of pressure? Apparently they weren’t intimidated because, 12 months later, Call of Duty 3 emerged to rabid fans and high expectations. So how did they do with this unenviable task? Read on to find out.

    As one would expect, there are a number of similarities between the two games, most notably, it’s still World War II. You still continue to face off against the Nazi’s as the Allied forces, this time represented by the Polish, Canadian, British and American armed services. The game also features the same rich, highly detailed graphics of it’s older brother, this time making for an immersive experience in war-torn France during the Normandy Breakout.

    Call of Duty 3 - Xbox 360

    Another interesting twist they added has to do with the mission-intro cut scenes. While these were little more than order-barking direction in COD 2, the scenes in COD 3 feature more interactive conversation between members of your squad. Where I think these new cut scenes shine is in the way they show the different mindsets between all the different armies that made up the Allied forces. Granted, they were all there for the same purpose with the same end result as their goal, their view of each other and their personal thoughts on what was going on varied greatly. This is reflected very well in the conversational interactivity shown during these scenes. By no means are these clips either historically accurate or of any historical significance, but they do serve to remind everyone how incredible a feat it was for the Allies to band together and win that war.

    Now, on to the gameplay. The single player campaign takes place during the Normandy Breakout and features a total of 14 chapters, rotating through each of the Allied armies. While some of these missions are quite simple to get through, Treyarch did do a nice job in recreating the total chaos that exists in a ground war throughout the majority of levels. While you will find yourself mostly grabbing cover and picking off Nazis from their hiding spots, there are times when you must sabotage the German’s machinery of war by placing timed explosive devices which require several steps before activating. Unlike the “press X to place bomb” command that existed in COD 2, now a series of right stick twists and button presses are needed before successfully planting an explosive. The process is far from tricky, but does add the need to eliminate all nearby foes before attempting since the process will take more than a second or two to complete.

    Overall, the single player campaign is challenging enough in normal difficulty settings to keep players busy; although it did seem at times that the missions were a bit shorter than those in COD 2. Crank the difficulty level up to Veteran however, and expect the same volume of frustration that we all came to love in it’s predecessor.

    COD3’s online multiplayer runs very smooth with great frame-rates and little to no lag….when you can get it to work. Getting joined up in a Ranked Match on Xbox LIVE is best described as an exercise in frustration. Even when choosing Quick Match, it’s not uncommon to sit and wait for several minutes and never join a game. If you do happen to get into a match, you still need to hold your breath since there is no guarantee that the match will ever start. When I first heard that Treyarch was issuing a patch to address these issues, I decided to hold off on completing the review until I had a chance to give the fix a try. While the update did help, it is far from fixed. The issue seems to be much less pronounced in Player Matches, however, even these are by no means flawless. Just to insure that I wasn’t complaining about a fault that no longer existed, I paused my writing a few minutes ago and attempted to join a Ranked Match. After several minutes without joining a game, I feel confident that there is still a problem.

    Aside from the multiplayer issues, the game has only a few minor flaws. The first is a small issue with the graphics. While progressing through the game, one can’t help but notice a few oddities along the way. At one point, as I was approaching a hive of German A.A. guns, I noticed one of the weapon’s large shells floating in mid-air. At first I wasn’t sure if this was really what I had seen since I was moving along at a frenzied pace at the time, so I allowed myself to be killed and went back through the same area again. Sure enough. Like a magician’s assistant in a levitation illusion, this shell was suspended head-high above the earth. I chuckled and shrugged it off until I came across a wooden pallet that seemed to have the same gravity-defying power. This time, I crouched down and crawled around the pallet to confirm that it was indeed about a foot or so off the ground.

    The other problem that I found with COD 3 has to do with the game’s physics. There were many times during the game when I found myself “trapped” in a corner or a doorway, unable to move. This occurred usually because of a small object out of my direct line of sight, or a piece of debris across the base of an otherwise open doorway. Items such as tables, chairs, etc should not be anchored in such a way to prevent one from moving. Even though I’m not the biggest guy around, I can guarantee that if I run into a dinner table (especially if someone else is attempting to aerate my torso with high-velocity projectiles) that table will move!

    These two issues gave me the feeling that the game may have been “rushed” a bit in order to meet the scheduled release date. While I did feel that they were worthy of mention, by no means do I feel that they are significant enough to scar the title.

    Overall, Call of Duty 3 delivers a very good single-player experience similar to what was found in Call of Duty 2 and should be considered a safe bet for those who enjoyed the latter. If your interest lies solely with playing multiplayer matches, then I would suggest you hold off for a bit until Treyarch has had a chance to re-address the problems that are plaguing this area of the game. Keeping in mind how well Call of Duty 2 rebounded after correcting it’s terrible multiplayer problems, I see no reason why Call of Duty 3 wouldn’t have the same sort of late-comer Xbox LIVE success when the fix is finally discovered.

    Score: 7/10

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