Today I got the rather unique opportunity of playing the multiplayer and single player modes in the upcoming World War II title Call of Duty 3. The event took place at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole and featured around twenty-four 360 booths with the awesome Call of Duty 3 inside them and all of them were set up ready for me and my grubby little mitts.
I arrived and simply choose my booth and started on the campaign mode of the game and so begins my hands-on. Now firstly we had to choose difficulty and the one of the guys from Treyarch said that I shouldn’t do Veteran as it’s a lot more difficult, of course I didn’t listen and started on Veteran. Thirty seconds later I was on Hard and then sixty seconds later I was on Normal. The Veteran on CoD2 is somewhere between Normal and Hard on CoD3. If you want to play through Call of Duty 3 on Veteran then be prepared to tear your hair out around every corner and scream with disgust as you are killed for the 348,828,983 time.
I finally opted for Normal and started on ‘The Island’. Up came the loading screen and that’s when I truly realised I was about to play what is arguably one the most anticipated titles of 2006. The level starts with you behind a tank grappling a BAR, you watch on your left and right as scores of Americans charge and are quickly mown down by the enemy turrets, what’s more you find your cover blown(the big tank that is) to little itty bitty pieces within thirty seconds of starting.
Going forward with your BAR weapon, you face a good twenty Germans coming from every angle, all of them intent on killing you. After picking off each of the Germans you then advance through a blown up bunker and on to your next checkpoint, which sees you yet again fighting against countless Germans. Luckily the team AI seems to have been given an upgrade, for one they don’t go out in the open saying ‘If I can’t see you, you can’t see me’. Your team mates do come in handy in situations like this where you are outnumbered 50 to 1, they will throw perfect grenades which can knock out German turrets or squads of charging Nazis, they will also go ahead of you which wasn’t seen in CoD2 often and they will sometimes do all the work for you, I mean I never complained.
Further on in the level you find yourself emptying houses that have been encamped with Germans. Now the PPSh was a great gun for situations like this but sadly you can no longer use it, but do not fret, as there is another gun which will please your blood lusting appetite, it's German and is called the FP42 (I think, I’m not one for pens and papers so I might have got it slightly wrong). The FP42 despite having quite a harsh kickback is still one hell of a powerful gun and a room of six Germans is nothing against this baby.
Once you’ve cleaned out a few more houses, dodged a few tank shells and German bullets you finish the first part of ‘The Island’ and on comes the second stage. The second part of the level starts with a Scottish general claiming that the French are good for kissing and that’s about it (that got a few chuckles round the room). You then take control of your soldier with the Scotsman whispering that ‘we must be quiet’ and round the corner we find a German taking a piss break. Now don’t shot him as that will alert the vast amount of bad guys waiting just yards from you, instead you have to use your melee and smash his head open, if like me your not good at aiming then you might have to take few whacks at his head before he finally succumbs to the pain and dies in a pool of his own blood.
Now there is a new melee system implemented into the game, for example you can kind off lock horns with your guns and push people over cliffs and it just adds that little bit more realism to the game. Anyways on with the game, so you kill the pissing German and you go on to face … ummmmmm ….. Oh I know this, don’t tell me, don’t tell me… ahh yes that’s right, more Germans. One by one you take down the Germans and once they’re all dead you will find a little treat round the corner, why it’s a Jeep and one which you, yes you can drive. Now the handling feels like a McClaren F1 and has the speed of a Koenisegegsgeesgeg, okay so I may have exaggerated on that one. The Jeep of course has pretty basic handling but your first drive will see you dodging quite a few tank shells, mortars, Germans and you will also have the pleasure of running a few Nazis over (It does feel ever so sweeeet).
By the time I had finished the drive-by shooting section, one of the Treyarch guys started a nice little info speech and one bit of info really got me listening. The guy from Treyarch explained that the different uniforms were worn by real people in a field and then they were scanned by the same scanner which looks for flaws in the foam at the bottom of the space shuttle. I mean jeeeeeesuz when he told me that, I realised just how much work had gone into this game and in a sense made me appreciate it that little bit more. He then went ahead and set up the first multiplayer server and I got to play a new multiplayer gametype in a 10 vs 10 server (which can go up to 12 vs12 online or via system link).
The new gametype is simply entitled ‘War’ and I will try to explain it as best I can. In war you start with two flags each and the middle one neutral, now to take control of an enemy flag you cant simply go to their base and take it (like BF2) you have to work your way through the flags, so if you get the middle one you can then proceed to the next flag and then if you get the final flag the game is over.
They did explain that the Sniper was a lot harder to use to compensate for sniper whores and sure enough you can’t breathe for as long and it’s a lot more twitchy and harder to use which may push a few snipers away from the new guns. Each time you die you can respawn as either a Medic (he heals people if you didn’t know), Rifleman (M1 Garand), Light Assault (Thompson, Stens), Heavy Assault (BAR etc…), Scout (Sniper), Anti-Armor (BAZOOOOOOOOOOOOKA) and finally Support which have a little trick up their sleeve in that they can call in artillery strikes. We also got to use the various vehicles including the bike and sidecar (which is terrible), Jeep (both US and German) and Tanks.
Now I was standing next to one of the guys from Treyarch and of course I’m a sniper whore so I went Scout, but the weird thing was I managed to get about 6 kills in a row, all of them from the Treyarch guy next to me. I wasn’t spawn camping as they have made spawn camping next to impossible as they have put loads of spawns on any one map. It got even better when the other Treyarch guy (I should really have got their names) made me and his colleague switch teams as I was sniping too many Nazis and the Nazis kept losing. Of course I went on to help the Germans to no wins, the Allies won every single battle but even so it was a really good laugh.
Now graphically the game looks amazing, in part due to the Space Shuttle scanner but also the fact that so much time had gone into this game when they were given such a short time to make it. Explosions look even better, you get more flying debris and one of the best aspects in my opinion is that when you zoom in with your weapon part of the background blurs. Now you’re thinking ‘why?’ Think about it though, when you aim, your vision is more concentrated which means you will only see the clearest directly in front of you simply because you’re concentrating so hard and so the outer skirts of your vision will slightly blur. Try it with a real gun, you’ll be surprised.
Audio wise the game is more immersive than ever before. Not only do you have louder more resounding gun shots and mortar explosions, you also have new death sounds, like when you shoot someone in the neck you’ll hear the blood gurgle in their throat (nice or what). One other thing I noticed which was pretty nice is that when you turn your gun (or head) the volume will change on individual speakers. So if you’ve got your left ear pointing at the firefight your left speaker will be blaring away and your right as quiet as a mouse. It's little things like that, that make the game feel undeniably awesome.
I only got to play one mission and two levels on the Story and two levels on the multiplayer, but from what I’ve played I think this is without doubt Gears of Wars biggest competitor. The game is more intense, more realistic, funner, it’s simply a better game and considering how good CoD2 was you really couldn’t wish for anything more. This will be one hell of a game and you will be bonkers to miss out.