Only a year after its predecessor comes the sequel to one of the hottest (and for good reason) Xbox 360 launch titles: Call of Duty 3. This time around, though, Treyarch, developer of the Big Red One takes the developer’s seat, pushing out Infinity Ward. There are several changes to the way the game is played but Treyarch manages to keep it a Call of Duty at its core. Call of Duty 3 depicts the acts of “Normandy Breakout,” the operation planned after the beach landings (Utah Beach, Omaha Beach, etc.) to scramble out of the Normandy area.
Treyarch successfully preserves the basics of the Call of Duty formula: Find an enemy, aim down your weapon’s sight, and shoot them wherever you can. It’s extremely simple, but somehow, you won’t get tired of it. You also have smoke grenades and frag grenades to throw at annoyances, and you’re able to throw grenades back at enemies if you’re quick enough. The ability to cook grenades, missing from Call of Duty 2, is now available. Cooking a grenade gives you limited control of the time a grenade will explode, which can be very handy.
The damage system from Call of Duty 2 is brought back into use, where the amount of damage you’ve taken makes the screen tint red, and suffering too much damage kills you. If you’re quick about it, though, and manage to keep from any damage for a period of time, you’re healed of all your wounds. It may sound as if it makes the game easy, but it really doesn’t. The single-player mode is challenging and fun. The AI is very smart, and extremely aggressive. You’ll be mowed down quickly if you don’t observe your surroundings closely. Thankfully, melee damage from enemies has been toned down a bit, whereas in Call of Duty 2, if an enemy manages to get within point-blank range, you’re good as dead. The levels themselves are filled with historic details, but it’s hard to enjoy the scenery when you’re constantly under fire with mortar shells and tanks bearing down on you. But on top of this, Call of Duty 3’s multiplayer can be even more enjoyable than the single-player aspect if you really get into it. Your choices range from 4 player split-screen, 24 players on a LAN, or 24 players over Xbox Live. There are even new game types with 6 game-modes, 9 maps, and 7 player classes to choose from.
The graphics are amazing. The animations (except for a few) are incredibly smooth and lifelike, especially the reloading and the camera movement during that transition. The environment provides a natural representation of the WWII era that makes you feel you are truly there. The special effects used in this game—such as beams of light scattering through a broken down buildings and ghastly air permeating the distant horizon—are overly generous, delivering a sense of fresh bombings from a recent battle. The rain, the fire, the grass, the water, everything looks amazing and realistic to look at. Trees and shrubs react to wind, dirt kicks up off the ground when explosions make a ruckus, and the remains of wine bottles fly across the room when shot. It screams of realism.
Treyarch has worked their magic with the sound in Call of Duty 3. You’ll feel every rumble from grenades, the shock from surprise melee attacks, and the impact from a bullet to the shoulder. The comrades you fight alongside will still react perfectly to enemy positions and attacks. They’ll call out compass directions hinting at where the threat’s coming from while the epic music immerses you, making you feel like a hero of sorts. The experience is well worth your wallet’s attention this Christmas.