Call of Duty 2 is a First Person Shooter set in World War 2 and like its predecessor features three campaigns that follow Russia, United Kingdom and the United States in their fights to push back the German menace. The first campaign has you fighting in the snow covered outskirts of Moscow and one of the most noticeable things right of the bat is a pretty significant graphical overhaul compared to the first game. It is not very impressive in this day and age but it has not aged badly at all. Much has also been revamped under the hood like friendly AI that is actually useful this time around and will occasionally shout out the enemies’ location in real time. It sounds like an insignificant thing but when your squad is being mowed down by enemy fire and you have no idea where it’s coming from, having an ally yell out his location can be the difference between life or death as well as being very immersive to boot. The revamped AI in this sequel really help give it a more dynamic and intense feel as enemies are now much more adapt at hiding behind their environments while also being more capable of flushing you out of cover, forcing you to move around the environment instead of playing a deadly game of whack a mole with your enemies.
Enemies will use their grenades far more liberally making it vital to keep your ears open to that ping of a grenade being dropped on the battlefield so you don’t get near it. Once you get close enough to a grenade there is an onscreen icon alerting you of the threat but if you are moving around the area and come across one, chances are that there is very little time left until it detonates making it a rather solid compromise between player approachability and punishing your carelessness. A new addition to your arsenal are smoke grenades which are invaluable when cornered by overwhelming firepower and must run across gunfire towards a better vantage point. There are times when you must run towards a tank with nothing but satchel charges to destroy it and it is pretty awesome to run out of the smoke, plant an explosive on it and then disappear back into the thick smoke. This works both ways however, the Nazis just as easily can throw a smoke grenade onto an open plain and rush your company. It is a really cool addition that helps to further encourage you to stay on the move rather than to stay behind a good hiding spot for the duration of the fight.
Call of Duty 2 is a more difficult game than its predecessor and will test your mettle with very one sided situations, especially when the Nazis are near defeat and fighting with tooth and nail in an attempt to turn the tides towards their favor. On some occasions you will be surrounded on all sides and have to hold out for a set amount of time which leads to some really intense, chaotic battles in where you must be very alert, least you get flanked by enemies or shot from behind. It often leads being overwhelmed and constantly having to move from location to location to avoid being pinned down while having your allies location in mind so you don’t end up shooting them in the heat of battle. These events were both my favorite and least favorite part of the games as your goal goes from trying to defeat the enemy to simply trying to survive an extremely bad situation while what little allies you have left are dying before your eyes and you very well could be next. As cool as these sections of the campaign are they do feel too common place to the point of feeling like they are just there to pad out the game with an arbitrary time limit until you can proceed with the story. Speaking of the story you will not be fighting in iconic previously covered battles such as Berlin instead it focuses on the more “minor” battlefields and events of WW2.
Both the American and the Russian campaign take a far less major roll than the previous game. This time around it is the British campaign that shines in stark contrast to their pretty lackluster journeys in the original Call of Duty. The British campaign are mostly centered on their struggles in Africa and is a location very rarely explored in video games. It creates some interesting situations whenever you must get in a tank that show off the German’s superior tanks that have much better range and armor forcing you to withstand their shells until you are in range to fire back. Kicking up dust and smoke clouds when you destroy an enemy will disrupt your line of sight as well. While it is a rather short sequence it helped to break up the monotony of shooting Nazis in the face and was the only time you can control a vehicle. Your missions will have you following a handlebar mustached Captain called Price across many fronts but there is no real character development or personal story, it’s all about the journey towards winning the war.
Russians have the first and shortest campaign that is not all that interesting. Americans on the other hand are getting hammered by their daring offensive strikes and their first mission is the Normandy landing which is probably the most brutal level in the entire game. The American campaign is short as well though it does have a lot of memorable moments such as invading a small town and having to fall back multiple times as the Germans proved far more fearsome than anticipated. The final mission of the game is also from the American side though it was a pretty disappointing ending to a series of intense missions. One of the most disappointing changes to this sequel was that health packs are now gone and in its stead we have regenerating health. It really takes any fear out of getting shot since you can now get shot until near death and hide for a few seconds to be good as new. It is a far cry from taking a lucky shot on the battlefields of the original and hoping you can crawl your way through the warzone in hopes of finding a health-pack to treat your wounds. In this game getting shot means nothing and you can simply shrug it off as long as you don’t take too much damage making it feel a lot less dangerous and making carefully fighting your foes a thing of the past.
Unfortunately I have not been able to stop the game from crashing while trying to access the multiplayer portion of it so I do not know if there is still an active community nor can I properly review it. Another oddity is that unlike the original there is no more manual or quick saving in this and instead relies on a checkpoint system. It’s not a problem since checkpoints are frequent though it is a rather weird design decision. All in all even though this sequel loses a few of the things that made the original great I would still consider it on par or better then it’s predecessor. While it is true we no longer have to fear a bit of damage it also forces you to move around the area with the addition of smarter AI and grenades can easily kill you if you are caught in a bad place. It is a case of fast paced, guns blazing action versus “realistic” slow combat where the danger comes from taking unnecessary risks. Neither is objectively better than the other though this tweak to the gameplay may be something that deters fans of the original. If that is something you are fine with or don’t care about this is definitely a great sequel that expands on many key things like having larger levels, better graphics and more satisfying enemies to face as well as many small tweaks that makes it an overall better experience.