Call of Duty 3 was one of the first games I played on the Xbox 360 and, having had a taster of it with Call of Duty: Finest Hour on the original Xbox, plus Call of Duty 2 on the PC, I was very much looking forward to this new release, although it isn’t a straight sequel to the latter title and this one won’t be appearing on the PC either, just the Xbox 360, PS2, Wii and PS3 (when that machine’s released).
This game is actually a follow-up to Call of Duty: Big Red One on the PS2, Xbox and Gamecube and recreates the Normandy Breakout as you team up with French and American forces to kick Jerry butt back in 1944.
As Call of Duty 3 begins, you’re treated to a CGI recreation of the Normandy invasion just after the Nazis took a stronghold over Paris in 1940, but it’d July 1944 as the game proper gets going and you’ll get to fight for several different armies as they become depleted and you have to join up with them, although it was a bit confusing when I found that after starting off as Pvt Nichols, I later became Doyle and then someone called Cole. Still, apart from when your name is called by someone the aims and objectives are no different than you’d expect.
It’s a good thing there’s many a checkpoint here because there’s nothing a cocky young soldier will try to do more than run forward into battle, blasting all over the place, but while it’s fun to do a combination of shooting and melee, it’s also the one thing that’s going to make you dead very quickly and, if possible, ensure life’s a bit easier for you by letting your CPU-comrades go ahead to start killing off the enemy before you wade in.
Assuming you’re not expired by the time you’ve shot off a few rounds, if you’re hurt, try and crouch down out of sight or just get out of the line of fire as this will allow you to recover your health. It regenerates as you go, even though there’s no visible bar to prove this, but the game prompts you that it’d be a good idea not to poke your head above the parapet for fear of it being shot off. Ok, so you can always go back to the last checkpoint if you snuff it, but when you die you don’t carry with you any weapons you had after the last checkpoint other than your standard issue firearms which is a great shame. I had a magnificent FG42, nicked from a German, which could fire far more rounds-per-minute and being a little too trigger-happy got me dead… so I lost it.
Following a short training mission, you soon realise that it’s business as usual. Call of Duty 3 isn’t particularly different to any other game in the franchise in terms of gameplay. You’ll take the usual linear path and when you die and need to redo levels and sectinos, the enemies are in the same place. And like the Three Wise Men going to Bethlehem, you must also follow the gold star to get to the next point of interest on your map (no, I’m not relgious, but as I write this Christmas is coming and it seemed like a clevel line :)
The AI of the baddies isn’t much cop, as it never was in these games, since they know they’re under attack when you’re storming their bunker, but at the same time don’t try to stop you from taking controlled potshots at a colleague on one side when they could surprise you and take you out. And that’s for the moments when you have time to stop and stare, since there are genuine moments of chaos with guns blaring all over the place, which can be confusing at times when so much is going on. If the enemy is bearing down upon you, smoke grenades help when, say, trying to get across fields where MG42s are firing ten-to-the-dozen in your general direction. Be careful, though, since you can get told off for friendly-fire and it’s back to the last checkpoint saved.
This title continues the pleasure of emphatic music being played and action that can be very addictive, but it also incorporates a new system where you’ll enter a house and get set-upon by a Nazi who’ll try to smash his rifle butt into your head, forcing you to the ground, but as you’re down the game will tell you to alternate the left and right triggers to counteract his actions and sort him out. Quite intriguing if not ultimately fulfilling.
Outside, there’ll be times when you’ll need to melee your weapon at an enemy soldier if caught short trying to reload when one surprises you and you’re not ready. This has a much more fulfilling feeling.
Something else I hadn’t tried before, so I don’t know if it appeared in a previous variant that I haven’t played, comes with setting off a bomb. You must press a button as instructed to insert a fuse, set charges by rotating the thumbstick, press another button to pull the pin, then get the hell outta there before it blows. This is quite fun, but simple. A similar tactic is used later on in operating a crane to kill off a few more Germans.
Go to page 2 for more thoughts on the game.
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.