Call of Looty:
I really liked Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, but it was patently obvious that I was in a minority in liking the sci-fi gameplay and storyline. This year, Call of Duty has gone back to its roots by returning to WW II, the theatre of war which started it all for the franchise.
Sledgehammer are responsible for this year’s title – which has had me genuinely excited because I was a massive fan of Advanced Warfare, their previous title. However, whilst the campaign looks and feels reassuringly expensive, it lacks the sense of scale of previous WW2 games in the series, and also lacks the kind of overarching villain or plot to make this feel anything other than bland and generic. Instead, you get a very traditional Texas homeboy/ band-of-brothers tale of a group of American soldiers from D-Day in 1944 through to the crossing of the Rhine in early 1945. The conflict purely takes place on the Western Front, and there’s barely a mention of even the British forces, whilst the Russians and other allied forces may as well not even exist.
Whilst you mainly focus on protagonist Daniels, and his desire to get back to his pregnant girlfriend, you do get the opportunity to occasionally play as other soldiers, either as a tank commander or as a fighter pilot in one of a number of action sequences.
These action sequences are certainly high-octane, but it was always going to be difficult to make them feel as spectacular as some of the zero-g and space fights of previous years. Sledgehammer sometimes succeed – chasing an armoured train through France on a jeep is a genuinely thrilling sequence which deserves high praise. But the game has a few too many anti-air sequences, and the controls during the flight sequence feel woolly and unresponsive.
Thankfully, the opposite is the case for the actual shooting. Despite the return to semi-automatic and single-shot weaponry, the gunplay in Call of Duty still feels relevant and satisfying. It doesn’t feel like a huge step back in any way. There’s also plenty of automatic rifles laying about or being used by the Nazi AI, so you’ll rarely go without a faster-firing weapon if you so choose. Smoke grenades now also disable enemies, so they feel like a much more powerful piece of your arsenal.
They aren’t the only upgrade – in fact, most of the innovation comes in the gameplay department. For the first time since the original game, there’s no regenerating health mechanic, and you need to rely upon med-kits to restore your health. Whilst they are scattered around the levels, you can also call them from your squad-mate Zussman. He’s not the only helper though – at various points in the campaign you’ll have your team able to restock your ammo or grenades, call in a mortar strike, or call out enemies, which highlights them on the screen.
There’s also some optional objectives which unlock achievements, and a number of ‘heroic actions’ to complete every level. It doesn’t add a huge amount of replay value to an otherwise pretty standard 5-7 hour campaign, but it still does help with that slight bit of extra challenge for completionists.
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