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December 9, 2005
Call of Duty 2: Big Red One - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
16/11/2005ActivisionTreyarch1, 16 MA15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
45KBDolby PLIIYesNoNoneYes

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Looking over the convoy.
In my preview of this game I said that the name Big Red One "sounds like a name for a porno movie". I guess in a way that wasn't too far from the truth as the game is likely to get fans of World War II FPS games very excited. It's loud, action packed and full of intense moments to keep you wondering just what is around the corner. The developers have promised quite a bit in this game including improved AI and a more complete experience. Does it work? Of course it does. This is another great game in the series from Activision and shows many improvements over the previous game, Call of Duty: Finest Hour.

Many of you are probably wondering what "Big Red One" actually means. We can tall you that this is America’s 1st Infantry division, and you will be following their fortunes through World War II. One of the biggest changes from the previous title is that you now follow the fortunes of a single soldier through the war from North America, Italy, and Western Europe.

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XBox screens, PS2 almost identical.
While the games 13 missions aren't overly long with a game completion time of around 10-12 hours we have to commend the developers for including a wide variety of gameplay styles during the battles. At times you'll be able to jump into AA (Anti Aircraft) guns to shoot down enemy planes, mount guns on jeeps to target enemy positions or cannons to blow up the tanks. Some of the missions will actually see you controlling the vehicles, as well as their weapons. While slow the power of the tanks arsenal make them enjoyable while manning the guns and bombs in the planes is just exhilarating. It must be said that most of the missions are very linear with scripted events as you progress, but there's such a variety in the things to do that it never feels predictable, or boring.

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Check out the effects.
Early in development of this sequel Activision had Grey Matter (who worked on Call of Duty: United Offensive for the PC), move the AI systems onto the consoles. The results seem to be worth it. Enemies now value their lives a little more and take cover when fired upon, and often only stick a small part of their body out when firing at you. They still don't exhibit enough squad based behavior - that may be due to the fact that there are rarely enough of them on screen to be effective in that area but in this regard the AI in this game is improved from that in the previous game, Call of Duty: Finest Hour.

There are still some areas where this game could have improved however. Firstly enemies still come at you only a handful at a time, and always come from a couple of spawning points before often following the same path so quite often you'll just have to sit and wait for them to be seen in your crosshairs before picking them off. Also somewhat baffling is the fact that despite the inclusion of online multi-player (which is good, but not great) the game doesn't include any split screen gameplay at all. Perhaps the game engine couldn't cope but it's a disappointing omission.

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Storming the stronghold.
Visually the development team at Treyarch has done an admirable job with Call of Duty 2: Big Red One. From the superb effects such as explosions and fires to the general war torn look of the levels everything is in place and while the North African campaign isn't the most exciting to look at with plenty of sand and rocks when you hit mainland Europe the games visuals step up a few notches. The in-game cut scenes looks quite special as you learns some information about the upcoming mission with some wonderful lip synching for the characters speaking, certainly among the best we've seen on the PS2 to date. The frame rate is fairly solid however there is a little bit of stuttering and frame skipping especially when you quickly look around a level. I also found it a little odd that machine guns seemed to be almost as accurate when picking off enemies at a distance as a dedicated sniper rifle, or even a normal rifle. Finally there were a couple of occasions where we got stuck for a few minutes until we stood in the right area to trigger then next cut scene or action. Very annoying and inexcusable these days.

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Check out the effects.
Audio in this title can only be described as superb. The gunshots sound realistic and unlike most games the effects aren't emphasised beyond their realistic sounds. The explosions will keep you on the edge of your seat. There's nothing like hearing some planes tear overhead before blowing everything ahead of you to smithereens. Equal to the task is the speech which sounds realistic - soldiers talk about non war related things, but when the shit hits the fan it's all battle talk.

This game has all the right boxes ticked and the new developers Treyarch have done a very impressive job in bringing this game to the PS2. If you liked the original then there's no reason not to pick up this sequel. If you didn't buy the original then rest assured that while this is numbered as a sequel it's a quite independent game. This is a fantastic action title which should be on your Christmas list.

Review By: Dave Warner

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version) or Amazon (NTSC Version).
GRAPHICSWe still want more onscreen enemies, but it still looks great.
SOUNDThis really sounds like a war with plenty of explosions and gunshots.
GAMEPLAYPerhaps a little too linear, but plenty of variety in the action.
VALUEWeak multiplayer and a little short in single player - still good value.
OVERALLWe have to say that we had high expectations from this game and for the most part the developers have met them. Graphics and sound are armospheric while the gameplay is intense. Well worth a purchase for FPS and action fans.

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