Excuse us if you will while we blow our own trumpet, but back in our July 2003 issue, PC Zone was the first magazine on the planet to feature a dedicated front cover and six-page preview on a little-known WWII shooter from a new games company formed from the ashes of the Medal Of Honor: Allied Assault developer 2015. Since then, Call Of Duty has gone on to sell millions of copies, eclipse EA's franchise and spawn a superb PC expansion pack United Offensive (created by Return To Castle Wolfenstein developer Gray Matter).
So, when it came to unveiling the true sequel, the chaps at Infinity Ward were only too pleased to talk exclusively to us before any other UK mag - and so, lucky reader, you get to share in the first details of what promises to be the most exciting, rip-roaring, action-splattered, cinematic WWII first-person shooter ever created.
Despite LA suffering its worst bout of storms for decades, the severe weather hadn't dampened chief creative officer Vince Zampella's enthusiasm when I spoke to him. "We're trying to take the game to the next level based on feedback from the press, the fans and what we didn't get to implement ourselves in the first game. COD2 covers a vast number of locations including Russia and Germany, and we've worked meticulously to create epic, chaotic battles and rich stories across the length of much of WWII."
The first major announcement (cue black-and-white Pathé footage accompanied by a plummy English voiceover) is that for the British missions, COD2 will now storm into North Africa as part of our brave boys' attacks against General Rommel, the 'Desert Fox' and his Afrikakorps. You'll play as infantry man Sergeant Davis in General Montgomery's 8th Army, and also an as-yet-unnamed Scottish tank commander, as you push across North African countries including Egypt and Tunisia. After, there'll be a final push into Europe for the bloody Battle of the Hedgerows, where superior Nazi armoured firepower wreaked death and destruction on the ill-equipped American and British tanks, which - in a bizarre true story from WWII - were actually jeeps in disguise!
"We have some huge desert levels," says Zampella. "Rather than doing four-versus-four tank battles like in the past, we're now going all the way up to 40-versus-20 battles. It's on a massive scale - you start out having to use your binoculars to spot the enemy tanks in the distance when they're still miles away."
The Russian campaign, meanwhile, begins with the story of Private Vassili Ivanovich Koslov, a Red Army regular fighting 20 miles from Moscow. It was here, in appalling winter conditions, that the shattered remnants of the Russian army was finally able to halt the German blitzkrieg and deliver Hitler's first major defeat.
Finally, the American campaign focuses on Corporal Bill Taylor, a member of the legendary Army Rangers, the unit that gave birth to the US Special Forces. The Army Rangers demanded (and were apparently given) some of the toughest missions available, and you'll experience them in some of the game's most intense European battles - which apparently includes the D-Day beach landings, the first time the team has revisited this famous WWII battle since Medal Of Honor: Allied Assault.
OFF THE RAILS
Exciting stuff, but what is going to be the real gameplay improvement in Call Of Duty 2? "If there was any criticism from the first COD, it's that the game was a little linear," continues Zampella. "In that regard, we've now included non-linear gameplay - we're opening up the levels."