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Call of Duty 3

Stage 3 : Evaluation and Grade
by James King (2007-01-01)

Stage 1: Impressions

Stage 2: Analysis

Stage 3: Evaluation

When the Wii Remote was first unveiled at Tokyo Game Show 2005, the first thing that popped into most peoples' minds (aside from Star Wars lightsaber battles) was the First-Person Shooter (FPS) genre; the two-handed configuration seemed like the perfect fit for pumping on-screen enemies full of hot lead. Developers who have taken on the task of realizing the genre's potential on Wii have a list of challenges to overcome, but Treyarch has managed to address the majority of them to produce the best FPS control scheme available for Wii's launch period.

The primary challenge to address when developing an FPS control scheme for Wii is the fact that the Wii Remote is not a computer mouse. In typical PC FPS or traditional dual-analog console titles, your cursor is "center-locked", meaning the cursor is always bound to the center of the screen. On Wii, this apparently isn't a practical option because the Wii Remote is held as a pointer in 3D space as opposed to a stable pointer slid along a 2D plane. If a Wii FPS employed a center-locked cursor, your screen would jiggle along with the unintentional movements of your hand and would be hyper-sensitive to any sort of movement, forcing you to sit as still as possible.

Who would want to sit still when you can play like this guy?

Call of Duty 3, along with the majority of Wii's launch FPS titles, employ a "bounding box" system to address this issue. This setup allows the cursor to freely roam within an invisible box in the center of the screen without affecting the position of your view. As your cursor touches or exceeds the boundaries of this box, the screen scrolls in that direction until the cursor is returned to the box. This opens up a whole balancing act of pointer sensitivity, bounding box size and scroll speed, which Call of Duty 3 pulls off well. Movement is smooth and precise while not being hyper-sensitive, and your hand's subtle natural movement translates into a realistic aiming reticule. Other console and PC FPS games simulate this subtle bob and weave of the cursor to add to the realism and difficulty of long-range shooting, but the one immediate advantage to the Wii controller is that this movement depends wholly on the player. In other words, player performance is limited only by one's ability to hold and aim the cursor in a relatively realistic manner.

An immersive control scheme is only one ingredient of the FPS recipe, especially for World War II titles that thrive on the ability to take the player into the experience via historic accuracy, in addition to audio and visual fidelity. Unfortunately, Call of Duty 3 misses the mark in delivering that perfect dish.

In terms of historic accuracy, Call of Duty 3 improves upon its predecessors by including more authentic weapons, vehicles and locales. In fact, when I played the game for the first time with a friend of mine who is more versed in historic weaponry, he pointed out various features which were pleasant surprises: accurate reloading animations, correct hand positions on the various rifles, along with the inclusion of additional rifles usually absent or misrepresented in similar titles, just to name a few.

The gameplay consists largely of duck-and-cover fire fights with varying circumstances. In one area you may be storming a hill, in another you may be trudging through trenches. Coupled with extra tasks like driving, stealth or bomb planting as mentioned in stage 2, the game remains fresh and interesting throughout.

The enemy AI isn't especially remarkable. There seem to be a few different types of AI for the enemies to handle specifc types of tasks. However, the level design is done so well that this isn't really much of an issue. For instance, enemies placed in bunkers and shelters cover their respective entry ways and hold their lines while "rush" enemies do simply that with the enemies in bunkers providing cover fire. Just don't expect much in the way of dynamic fire fights - once you play through an area, you've pretty much seen how a certain battle will play out. The gameplay relies on scripted events to maintain the cinematic feel that drives the scenarios forward and it does so effectively.

Graphically, the title is somewhat of a disappointment. As mentioned in previous stages, the game shows off some impressive explosions and particle effects, but heavily lacks in texture detail. Many surfaces are blurry and running the game in progressive scan only serves to highlight the texture flaws. What the game lacks in detail, though, it makes up for in on-screen action. Many of the title's scenarios concurrently include bombers flying overhead, firing tanks, and waves of Nazi soldiers without a hit to the framerate.

There's a lot of action, just nothing really pretty to look at.

The game features a variety of battle cries, conversation and multiple variations of certain messages. One pitfall certain titles face is the constant repetition of voice clips. When a solider beside you shouts the same "Come get it!" ten times in a row, it only serves to remind you you're playing a game. Luckily, Call of Duty 3 largely avoids this problem by offering plenty of variety in the dialogue of your comrades and enemies. The title also sports a fairly impressive Dolby Pro Logic II track that surrounds you in the sounds of war. I would have appreciated some additional separation between the front and rear speakers for certain explosions and aircraft, but what Treyarch have put together for a non-5.1 PLII track remains satisfactory.

Regarding replay value, the developers have added various forks in the game where you can choose which path to take. These paths don't change the experience much since your choice doesn't affect the outcome or the latter portions of the stage, but it is an appreciated variation for players that want to see everything their games have to offer. But the real replay value determination in an FPS title comes from the multiplayer mode, which is disappointingly absent from Call of Duty 3. This alone is sufficient reason to pass up the Wii version, or to pick up one of the other Wii FPS titles with multiplayer modes instead.

Players who find enjoyment in or even prefer the single player campaigns in their FPS titles will find an excellent choice with Call of Duty 3. The control scheme truly makes the title a joy to play and enhances the gameplay beyond that of traditional dual-analog control schemes. In fact, after enjoying Call of Duty 3, I find it difficult to go back to dual-analog titles and look forward to see what Treyarch has in store for Wii in the future.

Evaluation Scores Game Awards
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24 / 30  Presentation
27 / 30  Gameplay
19 / 30  Value
+5 /±10  Tilt

   Final Grade  

  User Score
  • Currently 3.8 Stars.
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< Stage 2: Analysis

Stage 1: Impressions

Stage 2: Analysis

Stage 3: Evaluation