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Publisher: Aspyr Media    Genre: Action
Min OS X: Any Version

Call of Duty 2
June 26, 2006 | Ian Beck

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Call of Duty 2 Video Review
(mov 320x240)

When I'm in a good mood, I call it the Beast. When I'm not feeling quite friendly, perhaps while watching a spinning beach ball twirling innocently away, I call it things that are not fit to print. It is a 700 MHz eMac and I have been using it as my primary computer for the past four years.

As a result of this, I have been for some time restricted to playing shareware and old classics. To some extant, that's fine by me; I love shareware, and I still haven't played through anywhere near all of the classic shooters. But not being able to play the newer games has irked me pretty badly for quite some time.

It came as quite a shock to the system then, when I booted up Call of Duty 2 (CoD 2), recently released by Aspyr Media, on my brand new, shiny, only-one-brief-beachball-so-far MacBook Pro and found that it I could finally play a beautiful new game without being able to count frames per second on one hand.

Call of Duty 2 is an extremely polished shooter whose high production values have led to a graphically pleasing game that largely fulfills its promise of providing a cinematic gaming experience. Unfortunately, thanks to a couple of gameplay and sound foibles, the game is entertaining and worth playing, but does not quite fulfill the legacy of the original Call of Duty.

At its most basic level, CoD 2 is a fairly standard World War II shooter whose single player follows the paths of three individuals in the Russian, British, and American armies through a number of campaigns. Missions are kicked off by brief slideshows with voice-overs describing the historical scene at the time of the battle you are about to participate in, and on a few missions video footage is supplied by the Military Channel. Although the single player missions follow three characters, this is more to allow the voice actors to be able to scream your name to give you instructions; there is no true storyline beyond refighting historical battles.

Gameplay mixes a number of Halo-style elements (recharging health, two weapon limit) with the frenetic war action from past WWII shooters, a single vehicular-based mission, and lots of smoke grenades. And snow. And showers of dust.

And did I mention billowing clouds of smoke, sand, and any other particle the designers could dream up?

Answering the call of duty
When I first installed CoD 2 and booted it up, I was somewhat shocked when my screen resized itself to an 800x600 resolution. Staring at the pixelated text, I wondered if perhaps I had been wrong in my choice of computer. I knew that no laptop was going to be able to compete with desktops for really getting amazing framerates with all options turned to their max settings for recent games, but I had been hoping for a bit better than 800x600 with all graphical settings at their lowest settings, which is what CoD 2 recommended or my computer.

"Forget this," I said to myself, and popped it up to native resolution (1440x900) with all settings high to max (meaning dynamic shadows, high quality textures, anisotropic filtering, etc.). The game ran like a charm, and I laughed my way all the way through the first mission; the explosions and frenetic WWII action was great, the graphics absolutely gorgeous, and after my long drought in the Graphical Desert of Shareware, I was predisposed to love CoD 2.

That said, I must admit that by the time I had made it to the later missions my enthusiasm had dimmed slightly, and although I think that this is a very good game, it is unfortunately not a truly great game.


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