Back Catalogue: Call of Duty 2

Call of Duty 2

What is it about?

Call of Duty needs no introduction. Well, not in this day and age at least. While most of you men of steel hold back a tear at the mention of  Modern Warfare’s “All Ghillied Up” level, some of us have been going through the motions of dishing out lead to enemy soldiers in historical settings since 2003. Before  controversial missions like “No Russian” and big budget TV commercials featuring Robert Downey Jr, the series has been delivering solid gameplay before things like digital distribution became relevant. In a word, the series has a legacy; one that predates this generation of video games. Ramblings of an old gamer aside, Call of Duty 2 has you in the role of four different soldiers across 27 missions during World War II telling three different stories. A structure somewhat similar to present games in the series.

Why should I play it now?

It was one of the first few FPSs along with Halo to encompass a sense of scale that we’re so used to seeing nowadays. You’d be sniping Nazis in snowy Stalingrad, taking out Panzer tanks in Africa and generally making life hell for Hitler’s Third Reich. But you’d be doing it in expansive environments rather than the constricting corridors we’ve been used to since the inception of the FPS. This aside, it was one of the first few games to use a grenade indicator to let you know if you were too close to being blown to bits. Most importantly though, it’s still a lot of fun to play. While we might take our turns making jokes about how shooters either featured Nazis or zombies as cannon fodder, Call of Duty 2 does the former extremely well.

How does it hold up today?

For starters, it still looks pretty decent, surprising given that it’s built from the tech behind Quake 3 Arena. In terms of level design and pacing, it can teach a thing or three to current-generation titles too. The presentation of World War II is authentic, what with the single-player missions peppered with news reels and journal entries from the time, and it’s still violent. Almost clinically so at that. Perhaps due to the fact that your squad mates barely say a word. This is war at it’s grittiest or at least was back in 2005. After years of dudebro shooters, it could feel a tad tame, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it still is highly entertaining.

Is it similar to anything else out there?

With historical shooters being all the rage in the mid-2000s, you’ll be hard pressed not to find one on the shelf of even the most deserted, sorry excuse of a video game store. Nonetheless, Call of Duty 3 and Call of Duty: World at War come to mind as they both have World War II settings. If you’re looking for something a little more vintage, perhaps give Battlefield 1942 a gander or the underrated Brothers at Arms series.

What do I need to play this?

An Xbox 360 would suffice. If you’re a mouse and keyboard elitist, then a PC or a Mac would be fine as well. On the PC side of things, 256 MB of RAM, a 64 MB Direct X9.0 video card and at least a 1.4 GHz processor is all you need. Some of you might remember a Call of Duty 2 game on the PS2, Game Cube and Xbox 1. That was Call of Duty 2: Big Red One, which differs from Call of Duty 2 in the sense that it just had you in the shoes of a soldier in the 1st Infantry Division of the US Army throughout the entire game rather than the series’ trademark of putting you in the roles of different factions during the single-player campaign.

‘When I played through…’

I’ll admit, I was a bit skeptical the first time I fired up Call of Duty 2 on my PC and not without good reason. Quake 4 was out around the same time and I was a bit bummed out that I couldn’t find a copy. However, a few minutes into the game and I was hooked. It was an unexpected surprise for someone who grew up on the linear, corridor-based gib shattering goodness that iD so perfectly delivered. The sheer sense of scale was fantastic, especially since the game started with such a bang, opening with the Battle of Stalingrad right out of  the seminal 2001 movie, Enemy at the Gates. Playing it now, after Activision’s yearly dose of Call of Duty, made me realise that a lot of what’s done in shooters today has its roots in games like these.  It delivers a solid 60 fps and looks serviceable to boot. The online multiplayer scene is still pretty active too with EU and US servers running full. Not bad for a seven year-old game.

Is there anything else I should be aware of (ie mods, crazy glitches, contribution to pop culture, Internet meme, etc)?

Anyone who has played Call of Duty online on PC is aware of the rampant cheating that takes place. This game is obviously no exception. However, there are a few good single-player mods worth checking out, such as Day of Infamy, and if you’re tired of the graphics, there’s an ENB series mod as well. Keep in mind that with the latter, your mileage may vary, what with users reporting crashes or the game not starting up at all. Oh, and you can’t use it while playing online as Punkbuster considers it hacking.

Where do I get it?

The easiest way to get Call of Duty 2 is picking it up at your local store or online retail. At Rs 499, it’s almost half of what you’d pay buying it digitally. Plus it’s the game of the year edition, which should save you some time patching it up. If you’re looking for it on the Mac, your best bet is the Mac App Store for $19.99 (incidentally, the same amount you’d be paying for the PC version on Steam). If you absolutely must have it on the Xbox 360, you can snag it from Xbox Live for 1680 MS Points or import a copy from Amazon for around Rs 2,200, duties notwithstanding.

Let us know what you think of our Back Catalogue retrospective features, or tell us which classic games you’d like to see featured in the future in the comments section below or in the corresponding discussion thread at the IVG community forums.

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