It’s been a while since I cared enough about a game to actually pay for DLC. Even Halo 3 had me waiting for the first map pack to be free, and before that I think the last time was Crackdown’s excellent content pack, released way back in May. I may have drifted from COD4 in recent weeks (my current poor form testifies to this fact, although I still blame the new controller/new maps/Prestige mode/lunar alignment), but that couldn’t stop me dropping 400 points (that’s £3.40 in human money) on these babies.
In fact, the last game that I bought more than one content pack for was Call of Duty 2, which probably says something about how this series grabs me. Until this game came out, COD2 was still by far my most-played 360 multiplayer game.
I came to this download knowing nothing about the maps other than the names, so imagine my surprise when I found out that the pictured map, Chinatown, is a remake of Carentan, my favourite map from both Call of Duty and COD2. I’d been waxing lyrical about how I’d love that map and another classic from the first two games, St Mère Eglise (one for the next content pack, please), and here we are; Infinity Ward heard my pleas. Continue reading Call of Duty 4 Variety Map Pack Impressions
Call of Duty 2 has been a staple of my gaming time since the Xbox 360 came out, more than two years ago. Whatever happened to be the 360’s multiplayer game du jour, COD2 was what I kept going back to with the true believers on my friends list. Once they’d patched the early issues, I’ve always maintained that it was the best no-frills multiplayer FPS on the 360.
You wouldn’t have bet against Halo 3 being the one to finally take over that mantle. After all, COD3 stunk and the fact that I probably preferred multiplayer Return to Castle Wolfenstein on the original Xbox didn’t stop Halo 2 from being an immense time sink.
Maybe it’s karma, but this time the non-Halo game totally stole Halo’s thunder for me. Call of Duty 4 had good single player; it was short and perhaps not as fair on the harder difficulties as previous games (try later COD2 levels on veteran followed by ‘No Fighting in the War Room’ from COD4 – nightmare), but still satisfying, with some real standout moments. Alongside the pitched battles that are unmistakeably Call of Duty, stages like the sniper sequence first shown at E3 and the level set on the gunship show range to Infinity Ward’s talents that make me excited to see what they can do next, probably while someone else sodomises the franchise’s good name in 2008’s COD5.
Multiplayer is what won this for COD4 against all of the other top games this year, though. While it has balance problems that have been discussed at length elsewhere and is possibly the most unfriendly game for new players to enter the melee, I adore it. It has the tight gameplay that made COD2 so good and the ingenious levelling system which gives the impetus to keep playing. Whereas most online games have little more than a rank next to your name, if even that much, after literally days of play you’re unlocking new weapons and challenges here. I’m almost at the highest rank and I’ve only unlocked all of the accessories for two weapons, and haven’t unlocked (let alone completed) all of the challenges.
And I haven’t even mentioned that the whole thing runs at 60 frames per second. That achievement, plus the quality and quantity of content here, puts most games to shame. I have no hesitation in calling it my favourite game of 2007.
Despite what I said about WW2 FPS, when they’re done right they can be very, very good, and Call of Duty 2 is certainly done right. The marketing for the original told us that no man won the war alone, and this follows the same credo but with the added horsepower of more modern PCs and the Xbox 360 to enhance the atmosphere. In a game that was all about chaos going on around you that made all the difference, and I think that overall this is the better game because of that.
What I thought were the biggest flaws of the first game – namely that the British campaign was quite poor and that you had to get through the rest of the game to get to the best part, the Russian campaign – have been solved. The Russian campaign now comes first and the other two have been improved, giving them much the same gameplay but with enough changes to atmosphere and setting to make them distinctly enjoyable. The same mix of objectives that range from demolitions to sniping are here, but the aforementioned added power means that you’re now demolishing massive buildings and making your last stand against whole platoons. Only the end, which goes out with a splutter instead of a bang, let the action down for me.
Even in the series’ first wholesale conversion to consoles (previously consoles have received their own, markedly inferior, games) nothing was lost besides the cut-down multiplayer. The graphics run smoother than all but the most monstrous of PCs with their equally monstrous price tags, and even the controller wasn’t a hindrance. That made it my favourite game on the Xbox 360 so far, and my ninth favourite of the year.