Call of Duty 3 continues on the same path as the series earlier games: depicting the liberation battle of France from the yoke of the Nazis through the winners eyes. This time the Russians are left to the Karelian frontlines as the Americans, British, Canadians and Polish are left to battle it out. The battles and the storyline are loosely based on actual historical events, although history has been enlivened for the purposes of gaming drama.
Saint Lô July 19th 1944 at 1800 hours
The game begins as the player steps into the boots of Rifleman Nichols, who arrives to an American outpost six weeks after D-Day. Rifleman Nichols then goes through a tutorial where he learns to shoot and throw grenades. Compared to the earlier Call of Duty games, everything seems more beautiful, with the grass gently swaying in the wind and the abundance of flowers just inviting you to frolic in the meadows. A fun detail is when aiming, your eyes are focused on the exact aiming point by blurring the other surroundings.
Admiring the surroundings is quickly overshadowed by intense warfare. As the Luftwaffe strikes, your senses are overwhelmed by chaos. The sound effects are very impressive; you truly feel as if you were taking part in World War II. The first assault takes place in France in a breathtaking environment with millions of details, made complete by next generation HD graphics. Youll not have very much time to admire them though, as youre plunged into a frantic battle in the middle of French countryside.
As bullets fly and grenades explode, the adrenaline starts pumping. The player has to advance through heavy enemy fire to a marker, the location of which you can check on your compass. And you cant just make a run for it, you have to take cover and advance strategically while dodging enemy fire and avoiding open confrontation. As the player moves forward, he is followed by his comrades. This way you set up the pace for each given campaign.
After several hours of hectic gameplay, you truly feel like a veteran of Normandy. The campaigns are versatile, as you get to try different weapon classes and also try playing as a soldier of different nationalities and skills.
The multiplayer mode in Call of Duty 3 is finally what we have been waiting for. A 24-player multiplayer game runs smoothly without any lag. All nine maps are well-balanced and the terrain is challenging enough, so that vehicles and tanks alone wont win the war. The tank, in the hands of an experienced driver, can tip the balance of power, but its awkward steering can be fatal.
There are some bugs however. One of them is the difficulty of joining a multiplayer session. Another one is that some have had problems with joining the Ranked matches, but Player matches have worked like a dream. Apparently there is a patch in development.
You can either play as an American or a German soldier, and they both have a wide array of one-liners spoken in their respective languages, which adds a great deal to the feel of authenticity. The selection of character classes is versatile: Rifleman, Light Assault, Heavy Assault, Medic, Scout, Support and Anti-Armor. Each class has its own special skills, such as sniping, healing or placing mines. As you score enough points, your character will also advance in rank, thus improving in certain areas. However, at the start of a new map you have to earn your promotions again.
There are six possible multiplayer modes: Battle (which is a death match against all), Team Battle, Capture the Flag, Single Flag CTF (you score by carrying a neutral flag from the middle of the map to your enemys base) War (you fight for 3-5 special locations, which you have to take in a certain order one at a time) and Headquarters (capture the enemys base or defend your own).
As a whole, Call of Duty 3 is the best and visually most stunning game in the history of console WWII games. The single player mode suffers from being too linear, but its a minor flaw considering how well the story has been written. The audio presentation with surround sound support adds to the authentic feel of war. The multiplayer mode has its bugs, but it is nevertheless one of the most entertaining Live shooters you can find. And you wont have to worry about finding someone to play with, as there are always people online willing to play Call of Duty 3.