Tuesday 19 September 2006
If there's one thing that Xbox 360 is good at it's war. And, based on an early version we've just played of the game, Call of Duty 3 isn't going to do that reputation any harm.
As with its predecessors, Call of Duty 3's strength lies in its winning combination of accessibility, authenticity and atmosphere, all of which are in evidence in single-player stage The Island. This is the game's second chapter and part of the larger Normandy breakout in which Allied forces moved through northern France to liberate Paris.
During this section, you play as a member of the British SAS, although at various points in the game you also take on the guise of American, Canadian and Polish soldiers.
Aside from a few key buildings littered throughout the level, which naturally you have to clear of Nazi scum, there's very little cover and you're forced to take advantage of trees, trenches and muddy hollows - to add to the sense of drama, the battle is set in the midst of an intense rain storm.
The gameplay itself will be familiar to anyone who's played the previous titles in the series, although what is immediately apparent is the degree of sheen - both visual and audio. Thwonking great World War II explosions have never looked, or sounded, so good.
While your progression largely remains linear - not a bad thing - you're now given a choice of routes at various points. These are seamlessly incorporated into the game although, in the section we played, whichever of the two alternate paths you choose, you're soon back on the main course.
Although the level is fairly brief, and some slow-down and glitchiness is in evidence, the action is suitably gripping and it certainly bodes well for the rest of the game. "It's all about keeping that cinematic intensity," agrees Marcus Iremonger, the game's executive producer, "and then bringing the world closer to the player and making the player interact more than he's done before".