Call Of Duty: Finest Hour was wrong. Call of Duty 2: Big Red One was right. And after seeing Call Of Duty 3 up and running, we're expecting this to be the definitive war game on Xbox - bar none. No pressure then lads...
Since the game was announced at E3 this is the first time we've seen or heard anything of the Xbox version. A lot of noise has been made about the 360 equivalent but that's not what we're about. Let's get the boring stuff out of the way first - Call of Duty 3 will focus on the Normandy Breakout, specifically the campaign that made the liberation of Paris possible and brought the Allies a step closer to Berlin (says the press guff). We didn't really pay attention to history at school (so we'll have to rely on what we're told), but we'll give granddad a call later to verify.
As is now standard in the COD series, you'll get to shoot zie Germans from all sides of the Allies' fence as the war progresses. Different levels will have you puncturing German bodies with bullets as American, British, Canadian and Polish soldiers. This means we get to laugh at stereotypical one-liners from the British like, 'quick, let's have a good old cup of tea before the Jerrys arrive boys'. Or giggle at the Yanks yelling, 'Brad! Bogie on your tail dude'. In fact, the whole concept of Normandy Breakout is interesting because essentially the game deals with a Polish army division surrounded by Nazis, who in turn were surrounded by the Allies. It's like a big darts board of death so it is. Anyway, listen to us blabbing on...
For us the main reason COD: Big Red One blew other WWII shooters to bits was down to its presentation and playability. Usually when developers and publishers bang on about how their game is the 'most intense experience ever' the words bounce off us like 9mm bullets fired at a tank. But we agree. The battlefield is just one big noise that sounds incredible when cranked up. Compare this to COD: Finest Hour, and you'll immediately notice the difference. And in turn, compare COD 3 to Big Red One and you'll notice a change too.
Multiplayer, if you'll excuse the tired pun, has gone ballistic. There be tanks. Gurt big tanks capable of making trucks and cars spin off the ground in belching balls of flame. It's mighty pretty, and a whole loada fun to boot. The inclusion of vehicles this time around lends the game a whole new dynamic, enabling the true potential of Live to shine through. And while the thrill of lining up a Nazi in your crosshairs still remains, it's only when you climb inside a tank that the game improves threefold. As if it needed improving that much though, honestly! It doesn't!
Because of these well-integrated vehicles, we're going to have an uphill job dealing with them, surely? Not every hedge or bell tower features a bazooka. Well, thankfully COD3 has taken a leaf out of Halo's book. You can now jump on a tank and drop a grenade through the hatch (if you can get close enough), then once the driver has been flushed out, you can either comandeer it yourself or leave it vacant and wait in ambush for an unsuspecting German looking for a quick ride home.
A new team member, the Scout, has been included this time around too, and while lacking the rapid-firing guns of fellow team members, he's able to use the sniper rifle to perfection, and relay vital enemy positions to the rest of the squad. Campers delight, camper-haters, get your big guns out, and prepare for action... that's all we can say.
But, if this inclusion of impersonal, anonymous death-dealing doesn't tickle your pickle, improvements have been made at the other end of the scale too. Remember that horrible, fraught hand-to-hand scuffle in the bell tower in Saving Private Ryan (the one where the poor GI gets run through with his own knife)? Well, there's plenty of that in COD3.