CoD WW2 Era – Notes on The Rest of the Pack

Some of you might remember, a few months ago, when I started a column called Video Game Archive and started by looking at the WW2 Call of Duty titles. I wrote a post about CoD1 and never wrote another. In actuality I did finish the United Offensive expansion pack, Call of Duty 2, and Call of Duty World at War. I simply never got around to writing about them. To be honest, there isn’t much to write about these games past the ideas of “macho American military men that do manly things.” Well, that and the ideas of American’s always being right and how awesome being in the military is(disclaimer: I’m not saying armed forces are a bad thing in any way, simply that the portrayal of them in games is always shown through ruby lenses). And these topics have been written about in great detail by many other people. I did take some notes while playing and I figured it would be a waste to not share them. I might do more of these posts as my time for playing and keeping this site updated dwindles ever more so.

 

Call of Duty: United Offensive

  • Huge shift in design as most missions have the player on the offensive, practically zero defend missions.
  • The flow of the original game is lost as each scene is high adrenaline action and agression
  • The player is never given a bit of freedom to explore an area. They are constantly funneled towards the objective.
  • Way more on rails segments than original.
  • Added a Sprint key. While it seems like nothing it actually changed the way combat is approached as a reliable escape has been added to the player toolset. It was most likely included as the nature of the missions is aggression and offensive tactics and sprinting helps tie the game mechanics to the themes better.

 

Call of Duty 2

  • This was the game that bridged the series from their humble roots to the powerhouse franchise CoD is today.
  • The intent of the player is constantly told to the player through the dialogue. Orders are told to you at every corner and the amount of scripted events are exponentially higher than either of the CoD1 games.
  • The Sprint key was removed. Seeing as a Infinity Ward made 1 and 2 and Grey Matter Interactive did UO it could have been a differing opinion on the action. Though IW included it in every CoD afterwards.
  • The quick save function was removed bringing the checkpoint system in. I’m not sure how relevant the checkpoint system was at the time(2005) but this marked a huge schism in the PC world. While console gamers fully embraced the checkpoint system, some PC gamers saw it as taking some power away from the player; or hindering a once perfect system.

 

World at War

  • Lots of weapon changes. These are mostly reskins due to the fight being against Japanese and not German forces.
  • The M1 Garand is reloadable mid clip. I originally thought this to be an oversight in design but the M1 has this functionality in real life as well. I’m not sure why older CoD and Medal of Honor designed the M1 the way they did but they were not realistic. It might have been a balance thing due to its high fire rate compared to other rifles.
  • No Tutorial Level! This is probably the best aspect of the game. The opening level doesn’t create arbitrary situations to teach you how to duck under burning wooden beams or anything like that.
  • The tank levels are abysmal. They chose 3rd person over 1st person, as were the older titles, and the controls are awful. While I didn’t like the tank levels in CoD 1-2 I didn’t hate playing them. These tank levels made me want to skip the level.
  • The feeling of being part of a war isn’t in this game. Focusing on smaller affairs the player is put into a squad. I don’t recall ever seeing more than a handful of allied troops at a time.
  • The Russian campaign is one of the darkest narratives I have played. It ranks up there with Metro 2033 and STALKER(both, ironically, about Russians). Reznov is a fantastically written character with a grim outlook on life and he was probably my favorite character simply due to his acting and writing.
  • The last level is the same level from CoD1. It is the Russian take over of Stalingrad. This imagining of the event didn’t feel as epic as the CoD1 variant. The scope is definitely apparent but my actions seem…contrived and too directed. I don’t feel like I have any agency in this game while CoD1 respected my decision making skills. WaW told me exactly how to take over Stalingrad(finishing up with a ridiculous cutscene of me impaling an enemy with the flag) while CoD1 allowed me to figure out how on my own.
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