Call Of Duty is one of the most respected World War II shooters on any platform. Sure, Battlefield 1942 might have better online play or faster action, but it sacrifices realism and gritty detail, not to mention a good single player campaign.
So, the stakes are pretty high for Call Of Duty 2 (CoD2) which aims to once again take over the World War II shooter throne. Well, lets just say right now that CoD2 has more than succeeded.
The plot is relatively similar in set-up to the first game. You take the place of three different soldiers during the course of the game, giving you a wide variety of missions and tactics to put to use. You go from Moscow and Stalingrad as a Russian private; to North Africa playing as a British soldier fending off Panzer tanks left and right; finally, you get dropped into the helmet of an American corporal in Europe.
The missions and game segments are strung together by documentary-style coverage of the war, which helps pull you into action and give you a sense of what the mission objectives will be. Throughout the game's missions you'll have a chance to try out stealth tactics, strategic planning and more aggressive game-play, although not quite the run and gun style of some WWII shooters. You're usually given some amount of choice within each level whether it is the route you take or in which order you go about taking out enemy strongholds.
Some of the missions aren't quite as exciting as others, for instance during your stint as a British soldier you'll be asked to call in artillery strikes on Panzer tanks from a rooftop during one mission for what seems like hours. However, in general the level quality is very, very high. The objectives are clear without being simplistic or easy to accomplish, and are fairly challenging without being mind-numbingly frustrating.
This brings us to the I.A., which thankfully is not as inept as in some games. You'll usually have a few soldiers along with you during missions, with more coming in for backup occasionally. They react smartly to each situation, throwing smoke grenades to cover themselves, or you, when running across open spaces.
They also provide cover fire or alternatively ask you to cover for them when they're reloading or changing positions. The enemy's react similarly, throwing grenades at you from behind boxes, hiding behind walls, and flanking you. The A.I. is a step up from Call Of Duty's last outing and makes for more enjoyable gaming sessions.
The saving system is fully automated, autosaving at key points and after objectives have been accomplished. While I initially found this a bit disturbing, I learned to relax and found that it worked quite well. I ceased worrying about whether or not I'd saved recently and was able to concentrate more fully on the game itself.
The in-game interface is neat and compact. You have your standard info such as ammo, weapons, and map, but no health bar. That's right, Call Of Duty 2 gives you no health gauge. Instead, when taking damage the screen borders glow red, and when severely hurt you'll be told to find a place to recover.
It works to further bring a bit of realism into the game play, which is really what CoD2 is all about. It also gets rid of the rather ridiculous gaming tradition of running around finding health packs that instantly heal you.
Multiplayer is very quite fun, offering up the same modes that the original Call Of Duty featured (namely, Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Capture The Flag). This time around though, there's also a game type called Headquarters that's akin to a King Of The Hill type variation.
Oh, and you're not just limited to Mac v. Mac gaming sessions, Call Of Duty 2 features cross platform gaming, meaning you can go and teach Windows gamers a thing or two about how to really play.
The graphics are just as great as you would expect from this franchise, with some fantastic-looking smoke, dynamic weather, explosions, and lighting effects that highlight the game nicely. Everything ran very smoothly on my Dual 2.0 GHz PowerMac G5 with no noticeable choppiness.
That said, the system resources needed are pretty high, (Don't even bother if you have a G4) requiring at least 64MB of VRAM and 4GB of hard disk space. It ships as a Universal Binary, but only MacBook Pros and iMacs can take advantage of this right now, as the MacBook and Mac Mini's integrated graphics card isn't up to minimum requirements.
Also, a good sound system is recommended to take advantage of the great score and voice-acting.
Call Of Duty 2 is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Blood, Mild Language, Violence. This game can also be found on: PC, Xbox 360.