When I first heard that Call of Duty was coming to the Mac, my initial reaction was “Wow, another World War II first person shooter?” Having played every WWII first person shooter since the original Castle of Wolfenstein, I was pretty sure nothing innovative was going to be brought to the table by Call of Duty. But, I’m happy to say that Infinity Ward (the developers of Call of Duty) definitely topped all other WWII shooters. They took the best aspects of WWII first person shooters, put them all together, and then went one step beyond by offering some truly innovative (and, at times, awe inspiring) gameplay.
The diverse battles you’re made to fight in Call of Duty are what make the game. The single player experience is a healthy mix of intense squad-based missions and covert ‘sneak and shoot’ missions. It seems a developer finally realized that it is more fun being a single soldier in a war filled with them, rather than the one uber-soldier that single-handedly wins the war for the Allies. In Call of Duty, you take orders, you follow the squad, and sometimes you’re charged with a poor assignment, like being a diversion (basically, running in front of Axis machine guns in order to draw their fire, so your squad can take them out). And putting the squad first as opposed to your self first is what makes this game good. Each level is broken up into multiple ‘stages.’ For instance, in one level you have to first capture a bridge from Axis soldiers, then hold your position on the bridge as some nearby Axis reinforcements come, and finally the next day you awake to a surprise attack from an Axis tank squad. And on each of these ‘stages’ any of the members of your squad can die – and if they die, they’re gone for good. One play through you can lose half your whole squad and be without them for the rest of the remaining stages – but if you cover their backs and keep them alive, they’ll stay with you throughout that level. This is a good idea because you often find them covering you and keeping you alive.
The covert missions are in to spice up the gameplay, and to that end they do nicely. They range from sneaking aboard an Axis ship to scuttle it, to shutting down an Axis hydroelectric dam. Even in these ‘solo’ missions you have one or two people helping you out, so it isn’t a bad case of you versus the world. There are also a few shoot-while-driving missions, which are fun and done nicely. In general, you’ll feel that Call of Duty’s missions are all varied and interesting, and you’ll never get the feeling that you’ve got to go to Point B from Point A *again*, and capture the generic secret enemy documents *again*, and save the world *again*. There are 24 single-player missions here and they are all unique.
The Artificial Intelligence is spotty at times, but no AI is perfect (I’ve seen half my squad yell “grenade!” and duck and cover right next to the grenade in question). But on the whole it does seem as though a lot of AI innovations were made. A particularly nice touch is that ‘covering fire’ actually works. If your squad needs to take an Axis bunker, for instance, you can shoot at the bunker and the soldiers inside will duck down, thus eliminating the fire your squad would take from them. Members of your squad will also duck into corners, lean out and shoot, hide behind obstacles, and generally act like a person getting shot at should.