Call of Duty 3ESRB:
Category: First Person Shooter
Developer – Activision
Publisher - Treyarch
2-16 Players Multiplayer
Video Resolution: 480p, 720p and 1080i
PS Network Compatible
Activision was kind enough to send us a copy of Call of Duty 3 (COD3) for the PS3. Being a console gamer, my experience with the Call of Duty franchise only started when Call of Duty 2 was launched along side the Xbox 360 in November 2005. Well fast forward about a year or so and Call of Duty 3 was a title that launched along side the PS3 while the 360 got version too. Having played the 360 version quite in depth I was interested to finally get a chance to see how the PS3 version stacked up against it.
I have played a lot of the 360 version of COD3 and I really enjoyed what I saw as the high definition graphics managed to make me smile. So when I started to play the PS3 version my expectations were high as I knew what this game was capable of. And after some extended time with the PS3 version I would say that it does not stack up on par with the 360 version although it is not a bad looking game. Having the two versions to compare I was somewhat surprised that there were framerate issues in the PS3 version that I did not experience in the 360 one. As well, when comparing the two games, which I did by going back and forth between the two, the PS3 version just didn’t seem to have the same punch as the 360 one. In some ways the colors just didn’t seem as vibrant. It is my honest opinion that Treyarch just didn’t have enough time with the Sony dev-kits and that if they had the same time with Sony’s dev-kits as they had with the 360 ones, these differences between the two game would have most likely be minimal to non-existent.
Even with the noticeable differences there is a still a lot to be impressed within the PS3 version of COD3. There are great looking smoke effects, something that the COD series has seemed to master. Smoke grenades emit a dark grey cloud that slowly expands in the area it is covering and does so with impressive results. Each level also varies in looks too as they range from great looking villages to countryside’s that are filled with lush vegetation like bushes, grass and trees that sway in the wind. These varying levels look great, especially in high definition. There is also lots of background action in each of these levels too from other soldiers running about, tanks firing their cannons and even planes flying above.
There are some negatives with the visuals that are worth noting though. Beyond the aforementioned framerate issues, which I should mention happen at any time not just during a screen full of action, I did notice a bit of clipping here and there. It was quite strange to see an enemies elbow stick through a wall while he was firing towards my troops from the room next door. As well some of the pretty impressive textures do get repetitive now and then, especially in villages. This is not as frequent as one would think, but it does happen. Overall, even given the deficit areas of the visuals, Treyarch's ability to make each and every level come alive with action is a treat indeed and only helps to add to the final result of a darn good looking game.
Sound is an area where COD2 really excelled, and COD3 continues this legacy. If you are playing the game through TV speakers, or a 2 channel stereo, the game sounds pretty good. However should you have the advantage of playing through a surround sound system, then hold on to your hat and be prepared to be blown out of your seat. Directional sound is spot on as bullets whiz by your head from all directions. The CPU controlled allied soldiers also bark out information and hints which also come from all directions. Many times I found myself spinning around as my rear channels filled with my fellow soldiers telling me enemies were advancing from behind. And of course what would be a WWII game without explosions. My subwoofer got a real good workout as I played this game and I am sure anyone in the vicinity winced more then a few times as the bass rattled the room. The weapons themselves also have a very distinct presence. From the German Kar98k to what was an early successor to the M60 each sounds very different. But out of all honesty I wasn’t around in WWII nor have I ever shot one of these guns. Regardless the sound of each weapon is distinct and very specific, not generic in some other FPS games.
Finally I have to comment on the music. The soundtrack was quite orchestral to say the least and each time the music hit it really suited the onscreen action or scenario and it really draws you into the emotion of the game. Upon doing a little reading of the instruction manual’s credits I discovered that the music was composed and produced by a gentleman named Joel Smith. Google his name and you will discover that his credits include Star Trek: First Contact and Stargate SG-1. This individual has utilized a full orchestra for the soundtrack and it does not go to waste. Overall, everything from the sound effects to the music was an enormous highlight for me as everything was so neatly wrapped up into one grand audio package.
For those people who have been living in a cave and don’t know too much about COD3, the game is a WWII first person shooter. This time the game focuses on “The Normandy Breakout” which is a campaign that started right after D-Day. The story is told from three perspectives of three different sides of the military operation, that being American, Canadian and Polish. It was nice to see the three different story lines and although some have complained about the story being so-so, I myself enjoyed it as it was somewhat interesting to have different aspects to “The Normandy Breakout” play out in front of me, especially the Canadian side as I am Canadian myself. The whole game is broken up into 14 chapters and COD3 mixes them all up so each part of the story it told at different times and you don’t have to play all the American, then all the Canadian and then all the Polish all in a row.
The COD series has always been full of shooting, explosions, mayhem and music all wrapped up into one great experience. Many people have even used the term ‘movie-like’ to describe the series’ overall feel. COD3 continues to follow this path in its’ latest instalment. The mayhem that has been a stalwart feature of all COD games is back as soon as you finish your training mission you will find yourself in wartime hell right off the get-go. As mortars and grenades explode around you, and your fellow soldiers bark out information, you will be targeting enemy soldiers by the boatload. This time around some of the environment is destructible as well as you never know what you can destroy. During your battles you are also able to pick up any weapon that you come across too, allied or enemy (mounted machine guns included), allowing you numerous options to kill your foe. Add to the action a series of cutscenes that utilize the in-game engine and you have a great immersive experience in front of you.
Controls for COD3 are quite good on the Sixaxis controller, however that being said I do have some bias to the 360’s controller as I find it feels and controls games, especially FPS titles, in better fashion. Regardless of my bias though, and having played both versions of the game, Treyarch has done a commendable job of making COD3 control pretty good on the PS3 vibrationless controller. Although there is some added motion sensing capabilities to the PS3 version of the game (using it to hit your enemy with the butt of your gun) I sure do miss the feel of the rumble that adds to the immersion of the game. This however is not Treyarch’s or Activision’s problem to solve as it was Sony’s decision to exclude vibration in their PS3 controllers.
COD3 is a first person shooter, plain and simple. However, Treyarch took a bit of a gamble and added two new play mechanics to the already great gameplay of the series. There are new hand to hand combat sequences that play out like an interactive movie. Utilizing the motion sensing capability of the Sixaxis controller (the 360 version is button presses), you following on-screen directions to shake the controller side-to-side in order to beat your enemy down in a one to one unarmed showdown. These are quite enjoyable and happen at unexpected times. They don’t happen a lot in the game and I think COD3 could have benefited from more of these instances to shake up the gameplay (editor’s note – pun intended). The second new addition is a new reliance on driving vehicles. If you’ve had the pleasure to play COD2, you got to ride in vehicles mostly as a passenger with no control of where your ride went. There was a brief diversion as a tank driver, but overall vehicle control was limited. This time around the tank excursions are back, but Treyarch has added a few jeep scenarios where you drive the jeep using the Sixaxis as a steering wheel. I found this to be a pretty innovative use of the Sixaxis; however it was very sensitive and twitchy to say the least. Many gamers will find themselves using the old and true method of the analog controller to drive around.
Overall the game will take anywhere from 8-12 hours to complete depending on your gaming skills are at. During my time with the COD3 I found that I was not able to run and gun like so many other shooters. I discovered that I had to hide behind cover when fighting against the hordes of enemies I faced and pick my times carefull when I would pop out and shoot back. My CPU controlled comrades yelled out useful information and allowed me to fight along side them in great ways. Those who are impatient and just race through the game on the default difficulty can finish it in record time, but I found that by upping the difficulty and going through each level one step at a time, while enjoying everything that unfolded in front of me, made for a lengthy enough experience that allowed me to wholly enjoy what I played.
Of course what would a FPS be without any multiplayer. COD3 includes a relatively robust multiplayer experience that is quite enjoyable.
I could go into great length on the modes, but this game has been out long enough that I think it would be better for me to talk about the feel of multiplayer. That being said there are quite a few standard multiplayer game modes like team deathmatches, regular deathmatches, capture the flags and modes where you even control areas. These modes work out really well for COD3. New to the COD series is the inclusion of multiple character classes that you can level up so to speak. From snipers to medics there are quite a few different types of soldiers you can choose from. This gives the multiplayer experience some life as playing different classes made it more interesting then just playing as one type of soldier. My limited online gameplay experience with the PS3 version (I wanted to get this review done) was relatively trouble free and somewhat enjoyable. If you haven’t played the 360 version, or only have a PS3, you should be happy with the online abilities of COD3.
I also think it is fair to mention that there were some bugs during my single player experience that I encountered and somewhat puzzled me. On more then one occasion I found myself having problems advancing in the game and had to restart levels from various checkpoints. The cause of this ranged from onscreen characters freezing and stopping my ability to get out of a specific areas to specific points of the game not activating certain gateways (e.g. doors being able to open after clearing a room). These aforementioned bugs are what frustrated me the most as I didn’t enjoy having to restart a level, and I didn’t have any issues like this in the 360 version. Other glitches worth mentioning are how the computer AI can fire through solid items (e.g. walls) causing an untimely and somewhat cheap death or how my PS3 locked up on occasion. I know the latter was not due to my PS3 hardware as I don’t have any other issues with any other games and my PS3 was manufactured quite sometime after the launch of the console too. These things should not have happened in a game as important as this and I hope that future PS3 titles that are on both consoles don’t have any of these issues.
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