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Call of Duty 3 Review

Developer: Treyarch Publisher: Activision
Release Date: November 19, 2006 Also On: PS2, PS3, Xbox and Xbox 360

Looking at the list of launch games for the Wii, it was obvious that there were some Wii-specific games such as Excite Truck and Red Steel, and those “put them on everything” games like Madden 07 and Call of Duty 3. Cautiously, I reserved Call of Duty 3, if only to see how the controls were. I was pleasantly surprised though when I found a very solid and Wii-optimized FPS experience.

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Before I even played my Wii games, I checked out the cases (I had a few days to kill, shut up) and noticed that Call of Duty was single-player only, which kind of surprised me. I knew that no games would be online for a while, but I would have expected at least split-screen multiplayer. The more I thought about it, though, the more it was justified. Think about the TV commericals for Call of Duty 2 multi-player: very much about your enemies not knowing your position, not run-and-gun deathmatch like Unreal Tournament.

But don’t be fooled, Treyarch makes up for the lacking multiplayer with the single player game. First off, this isn’t a “Wii alternative” to the other next-gen versions. It is essentially the same game, but totally different. Minus some of the HD-era flare, the game has the same missions and objectives. You still get the great engine, great physics, and great sound, plus a slew of Wii-exclusive features that the other versions will have you missing out on.

Controls are significantly easier to get used to than that of Red Steel, as your in-game looking movements are based on how your hand moves, not where inside the screen you keep your crosshair. This results in a game much easier to play in the short and long run. In the short run, it’s easier to get used to, easier to control, and not a burden. In the long run, it’s less tiresome than the controls of Red Steel. For example, because you don’t have to keep the controller held up so that your “dot” stays in the center of the screen at all times. Major actions, such as throwing grenades, reloading, and gun bashing are accessible using the Wiimote’s buttons, such as “d-pad left” for frag grenade, “d-pad right” for smoke grenade, and “-” to reload. In addition, you can bash enemies with your gun by thrusting the Wiimote inward towards the screen, although I prefer the hard key, as the remote isn’t always as accurate.

Just when you think, “Alright this is nice, Treyarch tacked on some Wii stuff,” you realize that a lot of the game is based around the Wii controls. First off, anytime you plant explosives on walls, tanks, etc, you have to reach forward with the nunchuck to insert the fuse, rotate clockwise to screw it in, then pull out to pull the fuse. Another example is the driving missions in which you hold the remote and nunchuck at the imaginary 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions on the steering wheel and steer that way. Sometimes when you go to bash an enemy with your gun, he’ll grab it and you must alternate thrusting the remote and nunchuck out to push him back, then slash to hit him with the butt. One thing I was a little dissapointed about as far as Wii-ness goes is the fact that there are no sounds played through the remote speakers ever, at any time.

Engine-wise, the graphics are far better than anything we’ve seen on the GameCube and rival the graphics of newer, more powerful systems like Xbox 360 and PS3. Fact is, you can’t tell a huge bit of difference between Call of Duty 3 on Wii and the Xbox 360 version on a standard-definition television. Explosions and smoke are vibrant and high-quality, and cutscenes are pre-rendered and therefore are exactly the same. Sound quality is great, as we’ve come to expect from the Call of Duty games. Obviously there is no true surround-sound feature, but what is there sounds great, from mortar shells to Sergeant orders. I never noticed any framerate slowdown in the game, although it sometimes slows down for a few seconds, which can be obvious when your running speed changes mid-jog.

As I mentioned earlier, this is essentially the same as the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of Call of Duty 3, with lots of missions to keep you busy for more than 10 hours. The replay value is what really suffers here, as it’s a very linear game, and it has no multiplayer. You play it once and set it on the shelf and maybe play it again after Call of Duty 4 comes out. The controls feel very natural, and I, being a PC gamer, like using the Wii controls more than standard dual joystick configurations (next to WAS and D, of course), as it provides ease of fast turns and adjustments, as well as pefectly accurate shots when you line up the sights. Call of Duty 3 is the first real, working, fun to play FPS for the Wii. I’m looking forward to see where developers can take FPS’ on the Wii.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 6
Final: 8
Written by Dave Review Guide