Call of Duty 3

Xbox 360

Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 9

Sound: 10

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 7


It's only been a year since we last shot down Nazi forces in the Call of Duty franchise. With that time, developer Treyarch has crafted a richer World War II experience replete with more active battlefields, added vehicle control, and the same gameplay that made the first sequel a success. This is an excellent update all around, with the exception of online multi-player.

callofduty31_360.jpg (131657 bytes)Scope is the significant upgrade this year as players cross the battlefields of Polish, Canadian, French and American forces as they begin their quest to take back France from the invading Germans. Levels always feel new and fresh even though assets are reused. The number of soldiers on screen is also a part of the immersion, as battles are now crowded and rewarding.

AI soldiers put up an acceptable amount of fight without getting in the way. Difficulty has definitely taken a turn, now leaning into harder territory than before. Destructible environments (though it still can be limiting) can change the cover situation with only a few rounds. Never assume you're safe behind an object if bullets are aimed in your direction.

Action is still the franchise's trademark, and hardly a moment can go by without an explosive going off. Grenades can now be held for a few seconds before tossing them to prevent the enemy from sending them back. They also appear frequently, and you're rarely without them. The enhanced graphics, particularly the character models, are a stand out on the 360.

The weaving storyline splits itself off track as each troop fights their own battles and then slowly pulls back together. Cinematics cannot be skipped, and apparently replace loading screens. While a nice gesture, it seems ridiculous when you're reloading a late checkpoint and you're forced to view the storyline progression from the start of the level.

Various mini-games now litter the single player campaign. You can no longer run up to an objective and plant an explosive. You need to set it by following on screen prompts. Pre-determined melee combat sections offer up some incredible hand-to-hand action, particularly one about 30-feet off the ground on a giant fuel tank. These moments are incredible to watch, though for the next installment, a better feeling of interaction would go a long way. It's too easy to bash the triggers and then press A, killing the tension once the surprise of being grabbed wears off.

Vehicle segments provide a nice break from the first-person viewpoint. A tank attack returns, this time inside a small village that calls for some extra precaution. Jeep runs through a field of enemies are exhilarating, and there's an odd one late in the game that takes place on an open map, completely free of the usual linear paths. You can choose which houses to clean out in a sizeable area. It's one of a few spots where you can choose where to go, and the branching paths are worth playing through to see them all.

With the new additions though, it's still hard to get away from the feeling that you've played this before. Call of Duty 3 is stuck in the position of doing everything a sequel should, but the genre continues to grow overcrowded. Online play can add the extra boost. Unfortunately, it's impossible to connect to a game. You'll spend most of your online time in a lobby waiting for a minimum of eight players (regardless of game mode chosen) to join. Those times are rare as other players are having the same issue on their end.

As a local multi-player and single player title though, Call of Duty 3 is a better game than its predecessor. It's hard to find fault in something that has improved on this level within the time frame it spent in development. Unless you have an aversion to World War II shooters or absolutely require online play to be a smooth process, this is the best title in the genre.


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Last updated: Friday, December 08, 2006 09:41 PM