War still rages, only this time you can see the horror better. Call of Duty 2 is set across three incredibly detailed real-world battlegrounds, each inhabited by one of three individual characters. It features a homage to one of World War II's most famous battles - the Montgomery versus Rommel fight for control of North Africa.
Here you play a British member of Monty's brave, outnumbered 8th Army, charged with pushing The Hun back through Egypt and Tunisia before moving on to the European borders. These desert levels will be home to massive battles. Instead of a couple of tanks versus another couple of tanks and a handful of blokes, now you'll see up to 60 tanks smashing the hell out of each other in the middle of a bumpy, dusty and enemy-packed desert.
Smoke grenades can be used to confuse the bad guys and mask your own squad-mates from attack, while more natural, less grid-based towns and locations give the game a more organic and lifelike feel. The desert, as you can see, stretches for miles - you'll need binoculars and a powerful planning brain to survive pm the African front.
After that, it's onto the heart of the Russian campaign. Here you play as Private Vassili Ivanovich Koslov, fending off the German attacks on besieged Moscow and hoping to turn the tide against the Nazi terror from the east. And there's more - you also Quantum Leap yourself into the body of American corporal Bill Taylor, a member of the elite US Army Rangers unit.
Bill will take part in the horrific D-Day landings, after fighting through the game's tougher missions. Here's hoping he doesn't end up raising the Stars and Stripes over Berlin at the end of the game after America wins the war all on its own after only turning up to play the last level...
Anyway, it should all be a lot less linear than the first Call of Duty game thanks to a mission system that lets you take on your war chores in any order you like. There's still an overall story arc, of course, but there's less running down set routes and being forced to follow a strict plot line. Instead, once you've completed a section, you're given the choice of playing on as your current character, or switching sides to follow events in the British or Russian camps.
You will also hear a lot of your enemy and team, specifically a lot more of their shouting and screaming. Your men - you're backed by Xbox 360-controlled squads as you play - yell to each other and you in a frighteningly realistic manner, pointing out specific locations of enemy troops. The bad guys shout too, in the right language, with screams and explosions polishing the game off with a stunning soundtrack.
We managed to take a good long hard look at Call of Duty 2 at E3 and can report that it's looking absolutely mint in both 360 and PC incarnations. The desert levels, including an assault on a Nazi-held port look absolutely amazing in the flesh and are immensely brutal in action. The house to house assault in the Afrika Corps-held port of Akiba is as intense and thrilling a first-person shooter ride as anything we've seen on any platform. If you thought the original title was the closest thing you could get to being a second world war vet, then Call of Duty 2 on Xbox 360 is set to raise the bar even higher.
We're really looking forward to resuming hostilities when Call of Duty 2 arrives on Xbox 360 launch day. One thing's for sure, the Nazis won't know what's hit 'em!