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Call of Duty 2: Big Red One
Score: 100%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Treyarch
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 2 (2 - 16 Online)
Genre: First Person Shooter/ Online

Graphics & Sound:
Sometimes you just turn on a game and you know it?s good. That?s exactly what you can expect when you pop in Call of Duty 2: Big Red One. From the start, you?re literally thrown into battle. Moving throughout the world in countries like Africa, Italy, and France, the scenes are gritty and imperfect, exactly like the pictures we?ve seen in WWII history books. As your troops maneuver within the terrain, you?ll see an incredible portrayal of what our troops went through to defeat the Nazis.

Complimenting that are great cinematic intros to each level of Big Red One. With your first-person view, you?ll watch and listen to great depictions of things like planning for the mission, the lighter side of the troops, and the hardships they faced. Each character model is lifelike with facial features (although your enemies tend to look the same), and the voiceovers match up perfectly. Honestly, I haven?t played a game this dedicated to the ?little things? in a very long time, which was a very nice change of pace.

The other sound effects are just as good as the acting. Explosions, gun fire, the heat of the battle... everything brings you into the action, and it?s very exciting. Something you may (or may not) notice are the different gun shots. Each weapon used in the game was also used during the war, both domestic and foreign, and each one has its own unique sound.

I?ve played other war games before, and I noticed something that was missing compared to other games: swearing. I cuss nonstop, so I?ve never had a problem with profanity in Mature games. However, Call of Duty 2 uses very little profanity, and it?s never the bad words, and all I can say to that is that I never missed it once. I just wanted to point that out to parents thinking about buying this for their teenagers.

Big Red One puts you in the 1st Infantry Division of WWII. This actual group was used to clear the way for other troops during battles throughout Europe and Africa during the war. Using the first-person perspective, Treyarch gives you a taste of the chaos during those times. Bullets whiz by you constantly and your comrades fall at the most unexpected moments. Sometimes a grenade goes off right by you and you?ll automatically fall to the ground gasping for air. These are the elements that make Call of Duty 2 so good and realistic.

But before you go thinking that Call of Duty 2 is just the same thing level after level, know that you?ll be completely wrong. Most of the game has you running around shooting the bad guys, but some levels could almost be considered mini-games because they?re an entertaining (and challenging) break from the first-person shooter. Sometimes you?re simply equipped with binoculars and your sole purpose is to locate enemy targets so you can give coordinates to your bombers. One level has you in the Air Force, gunning down enemy fighters and dropping bombs on targets from up above. The pacing of Big Red One is what makes this game something you?ll want to come back to over and over again.

If you should happen to grow tired of the single player campaign, you can head online to play with up to 15 other people. Play with and against others with modes like Deathmatch and Capture the Flag. You can also play with your buddies via LAN. It?d be nice if you could just use a multitap, but there?d be just too much action on the screen to be broken into four parts. One cool feature for online is that you?ll earn promotions for your part on the battlefield, which in turn gives you the ability to carry special weapons and more ammo.

I reviewed the Collector?s Edition of Big Red One, which includes some extra features not offered with the regular game. Some of these things consist of Exclusive Multiplayer Skins, a real-life perspective with real men from the Big Red One, and a behind the scenes look at the making of Call of Duty 2: Big Red One. Both movies are fairly short, yet very interesting to watch.

Call of Duty 2 offers up three levels of difficulty, each providing a fun level of gameplay. Between Easy, Normal and Hard, the enemy?s A.I. heightens, mainly in reaction time to shooting, along with their aiming ability. I started off with the Normal difficulty, which seemed to be a good fit since I?ve played FPS's before. The good news is that while I was able to beat levels, I wasn?t able to do it on the first try. Big Red One automatically saves your game after each successful mission, although there are checkpoints within each level. I thought the checkpoints were well placed, making it a challenge throughout the game.

One other point about the A.I. deals with your infantry. A lot of FPS's rely on you beating the enemy alone, even when you have a team. This game is not a one vs. an army type of game. The Fighting First was good all around, not just because of one man. This means that you?ll have help taking out your targets... although they?ll still rely on you to kind of lead the way.

Game Mechanics:
The controller configuration seemed to be very similar to other FPS's, which formed perfectly to my hands. Both analog sticks direct your movement and where you look, while R1 fires your weapon. I?m not going to get into what each button does, but basically you?ll figure out very quickly.

The loading time isn?t very long, especially when you?re reloading back to a checkpoint. The autosave feature runs very smoothly, and you?ll only need 42 KB of space on your memory card. When I played online, I didn?t experience any lag time whatsoever.

There?s an authenticity to Call of Duty 2: Big Red One. Like I said before, the little details are what make this game so great. If you like war games, first-person shooters, or just own a PlayStation 2, you need to get this game.

-Red Dawg, GameVortex Communications
AKA Alex Redmann

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