Call of Duty 3: Review

Being a huge fan of the Call of Duty series from the beginning, I was extremely disappointed to discover that COD3 is not up to par with its predecessors and feels like it would be a better fit as part of the Medal of Honor series.

The Good: It’s a step up from COD2 in terms of visuals. Ability to cook grenades and throw enemy grenades back before they explode. Lots of dudes on screen.

The Bad: Extremely linear to the point where it almost feels like you’re being lead by hand. Tons of invisible walls and spots that you simply can’t get to. Never-ending streams of re-spawning enemies. AI is lacking the intelligence part. Long load times disguised as cut scenes that you can’t skip. Story jumps all over the place and isn’t interesting in the least. Overall, a very dark game on default settings and brightness preferences don’t save once you restart the game. Multiplayer match-making has its own set of issues. Frequently unable to find games or sets you up in games with only a few people.

If you’ve been around these parts for a while now, you’ll now that I’ve always been a huge fan of the Call of Duty series. Specifically, the original game on the PC and the sequel that was released last year on the PC and Xbox 360. It pains me to have to tell you how much of a disappoint COD3 is and how it simply doesn’t compare to COD2 or even the original for that matter. When I would rather be playing a 3 year old game over a brand new one in the same series, something has gone wrong. I think we all know where to point our fingers. It seems that Activision just had to have another COD game on the shelves this holiday season and enlisted Treyarch (developers of the mediocre COD Finest Hour and COD Big Red One games) to handle COD3 which was released in early November across all consoles (including Xbox, PS2 and GameCube).

I know what some of you may be thinking – “But, but, but, insert big gaming review site here said it was awesome!” It’s true. The majority of the online gaming publications have given COD3 some ridiculously high ratings that it does not deserve and touted some truly ludacris statements like “Though it plays nearly identical to Call of Duty 2, Call of Duty 3 is a fantastic game with top-notch production values.” Hardly. There are a few differences that knock COD3 nearly 2 full points down, in my books. Let’s get the bad out of the way first, shall we?

Treyarch managed to do something that I’ve not yet experienced in a COD game. They took the fun of shooting Nazis. There were times in COD3 that I just wanted to throw my controller at the screen I was so filled with frustration. Many of the objectives in the game are to clear buildings and fight your way through hordes of enemies. This is all well and good, but the enemies spawn faster than bunnies in heat. Fuckin’ Nazis popping out of every other bush, from behind blown up vehicles and even supply crates. In most cases, it’s not even about killing all of the baddies, because they simply don’t stop coming. It’s about moving forward and progressing through the level or waiting until a certain amount of time has passed. Once I figured this out, I pretty much lost interest in it. It’s so bad that you can get away without even firing a single shot in some cases. A few missions require you to hold a position until air support or reinforcements arrive and this is where I tested it – hid behind a barrel and chilled until the screen started to fade and the mission was over. Kind of pointless, isn’t it? But the constant re-spawning is what truly drove me mad. I recall clearing out a house and as I left a room that I had just mowed down, I was shot in the back. “WTF? Where’d he come from?” – crossed my mind on more than one occasion.

The COD games have always been broken down into factions – three of them. American, British and Russian. The Russian missions were always my favourite as they were just crazy intense from beginning to end. There’s no Russian missions in COD3. 🙁 This time around there’s 5 factions (I believe) and instead of grouping them together or letting you decide how you want to play them (as they did in COD2), you jump from one to the other from mission to mission. There’s these dis-jointed cut scenes in between that are extremely un-interesting which you can’t skip. You can’t skip them because they’re actually load screens. When I was at X’06, the COD3 dude was bragging about the fact that this game had no load screens. Nice try, this hardly counts. Instead of a simple screen with some facts from the war or quotes, you’re forced to watch the same cut scenes time and time again. Even if you’re loading a checkpoint within a mission. In any case, there’s so much going on between the 5 factions and the story jumps around so frequently that it’s really hard to follow and it doesn’t hook you at all. You get the sense that everyone’s working together, but it never truly feels that way.

Of the 14 missions, there were 5 or 6 that I really enjoyed. The others were m’eh or simply ruined by the aforementioned flaws. But the missions I did enjoy, were great! I was reminded of why I have such fond memories of COD and COD2 and for a few minutes, was able to look past all of the glaring annoyances. The first mission in particular, you find yourself amongst what feels like hundreds of soldiers fighting your way through the German lines. There’s bullets flying from every direction and things blowing up left, right and centre. And speaking of blowing up, there’s a fair amount of destruction in COD3. Some buildings, vehicles and crates can be destroyed, but not everything. It’s pretty selective what can be damaged as well.

The visuals are a step or two above COD2, and that says a lot! Characters look great and the environments look incredible. There’s tons of long grass and other foliage in just about every level. It’s not until you get really close to something that it starts to really look like a texture. The smoke grenades from COD2 are back as well as an abundance of clouds of smoke from explosions near and far.

While I don’t love the soundtrack as much as previous COD games, it’s still quite good. The weapon sounds are loud and sharp and depending on where you are, some times have a great echo that really fills the room. Enemy voices are loud and obnoxious, also as you would expect in a WWII/COD game.

In terms of gameplay, there are some slight improvements and also some things missing. Finally, you can return enemy grenades! The grenade indicator remains in tact and changes to a fist wrapped around a grenade if you’re over it. Pressing “x” will pick it up and you’ll only have a couple seconds to send it back before it goes off. You can also cook grenades (pull the pin and hold before throwing) which is definitely handy and ensures it won’t be returning to blow off your face. You still can’t lean, which is wicked annoying. When you’re faced with having to take cover at every turn, it would really be nice to be able to simply pop your gun out and pick some dudes off before fully exposing yourself. No such luck here, though. And one thing I noticed was missing that I really liked about COD2 was the ability to hop over things. Railings, fences, you name it. In COD you simply had to walk up to them and push the jump button and in one smooth motion you were up and over. I was pretty bummed when I tried this only to find myself bunny hopping in place.

Apparently, the multiplayer is a massive improvement over COD2, but I couldn’t tell you. It appears to be plagued with connection issues and I’ve only successfully joined one game. The game I did make it into only had 5 or 6 dudes total and the map was pretty large. I only ended up coming across one bad dude in the 6 minutes I was in the game. I caught wind that a patch is on its way to correct the connection issues, but there’s no sign of it yet.

Unless you’re really hurting for something to play (which is hard to believe considering the onslaught of awesome titles that just hit over the past few weeks), I wouldn’t bother picking up COD3. It’s a worthy rent, but I think I’m going to trade mine in for a copy of COD2. Suddenly, I have this urge to rekindle the flame of COD greatness.

Rating: 3/5

Call of Duty 3

19 Responses to “Call of Duty 3: Review”

  1. For the first few days I had the game, I couldn't connect to anything, but that seems to have smoothed itself out. I can now join ~98% of games, and I must say the multiplayer is worth the price alone. What dosen't work for me yet is the ranked matches; it would be nice if I could actually try for those achievements…

    CoD 3 is nice, but CoD 2 (for Mac 🙂 ) is way better.

  2. Great review – I am back playing COD2 as a result. I have been tempted to buy COD3 but I think I will hold off.

    If you want a game that has a tragic online experience – Saints Row! no games, lag – terrible.

    Sorry if you get 2 comments from me – I had an issue with the first it seems.

  3. Wow, really? I thought this game was excellent. Some of the problem that you point out are valid (pretty linear, too many factions = confsuing story, non-skippable cut scenes) but are much more in the category of "minor annoyances." I found myself playing this even with games like Splinter Cell and Gears Of War still laying around unfinished – this game is just straight up intense.

    And the multiplayer is freaking amazing. Albeit there are some current connection issues (pleeeaase patch soon) when you do get connected it is a freakin blast. The class system (reminiscent of the Day Of Defeat half life 2 mod) is balanced really well and allows a team to really work together. My favorite is the heavy support class where you lug around a huge machine gun that is fairly impossible to shoot (and insanely innaccurate) until you either set it up laying prone on the ground or set it up in a turret like placement.

    I would highly disagree with your "rent it, don't buy it" as I see this as a multiplayer game I'll be pouring lots of time into, and a great single player campaing that I know I'll be coming back to relive again and again.

    and Activision, if you're listening:

    Call Of Duty 4 = co-op campaign play.

  4. @David: I've actually seen a couple of people recently playing COD2 on my friends list and I'm pretty sure I can account that to the lack of awesomeness in COD3.

    As for Saints Row – there was a big update released a couple weeks back. Have you played it since then? It was supposed to resolve a lot of the online problems.

    @Jesse: All of those issues definitely fall under the minor annoyances category. But when you're faced with so many, they really take their toll on the whole experience. I found myself sayings things like "fuck, am I done yet" or "really? why bother?" often enough while playing through the campaign. That's just not right. In COD2, I never wanted the missions to end. Where as with COD3 I could hardly wait to put down the control at times.

    Just out of curiosity, did you play COD2?

    I really hope I can get some more time in online before I head in to EB to trade it in. Perhaps I'll be persuaded? But for the single player alone (which is basically all I had to go on at the time of writing this), it's just not worth the $60 price tag.

  5. While I agree with alot of the points in the review, I myself enjoyed COD 3. But only after I continued to remind myself it is an entirely different game then COD 2.

    Knowing it was being developed by Treyarch I was worried the whole year of development, (which is to soon for any developer to really nail down any game) but I purchased it anyway on release day. After playing several missions I was enjoying it enough, but also let down. The game was intense, and had decent additions added into the gameplay, but something was off. I thought about COD 2 and 3 and in Call of Duty 2 the missions were hectic but also felt very small, you were able to think about what was going on and figure out different tactics to use to take out the enemy. COD 3 is a series of very chaotic and linear levels that you dont need to really think through. If you just take it for what it is it is enjoyable enough. They are completely different styles of games.

    The multiplayer on the other hand is vastly improved, with multiple class's and large levels. And I havent had any connection problems, were you trying ot join Player games or Ranked games? Because the Ranked option does not work, and that is what the patch will be fixing. Player matches you can easily find a game.

    PS: United Offensive is still the best COD! Not the first 😛

  6. On the gameplay video did you spot the guy that flys in a big circle then gets killed.

    Just after you go prone and crawl through some water in the first phase of the video, he flys around for a second, runs back and then a tank blows up behind him. Weird glitch…

  7. You covered a lot of the bad things I found within the game. However, it seems that once you connect (for multiplayer), which I had trouble doing a lot, you would play lag-free and for hours without being disconnected. Unlike Gears of War, when a host leaves, it makes someone else the host – something GOW really needs.

    Still, once you get online, the game is worth every penny. I never really play campaign on this type of game – GOW being an exception.

  8. I agree with all of your points. Although I didn't give this game nearly enough time that you did.

    Before cod3 came out, I was arguing with friends about Gears of War and Call of Duty3. I thought cod3 would be hands above GoW. I had to eat $%%$ on that one.

    This game feels like counter-strike or something from the early 2000's. I will go back to cod2 whenever I happen to put down GoW, which I don't see happening in the near future.

    gamertag: NIkNoonan (GoW)

  9. I rented COD3 for the wii, and let me tell you, the wiimote adds a whole other dimension. This game is indeed flawed with the too-scripted gameplay and the extremely annoying cut scenes, and of course on the wi, no multiplayer 🙁 , but i think the wiimote just adds something that gets you into the game a bit more. You are actually aiming and firing at the enemy, and that gets my blood going. Since there is no COD2 for the wii, I think COD3 isn't that bad.

    The game is indeed flawed, and no multiplayer is almost a joke, but for a solid, fun single-player game, this game provides.

  10. I have to agree. The A.I. drove me crazy for most of the game, and I can't stand never-ending respawns of baddies. I found myself running to the next checkpoint, and all the bad guys disappearing as a result. I already returned my rental copy without checking out the online multiplayer, which sounds like it was a mistake / more fun than single player.

  11. Although the game really has all those annoyances you mention, I found the game to be really enjoyable… It’s more of the same but I like it.

  12. Good to know someone agrees with me â€" most of my friends found this game to be excellent. Then again, none of them had ever played any other COD. 😉

  13. Man, I absolutely agree. If I'm honest, it was COD2 that got me right into the 360. I was really anticipating COD3 while everyone was eagerly awaiting Gears. It was a let down with far too many glitches. I felt it was only really the graphics that took a step up.

  14. Good Review, i completely agree with you on the single player bit, the confusing storyline, annoying cut scenes, etc.

    BUT u really should hav held the review off until u played the multiplayer, becuz it is worth absolutely every penny u pay for this game, it is amazing, i dont recall ever getting any lag watsoever, the 2 sides (allies & axis) actually feel balanced, becuz the really talented players who actually know how to play the game really well can do amazingly well on either side

    plus, the map layouts are pretty good, except for the odd time where ur whole team will be cornered, but thats really not too hard to get out of

    only down side i can think of for the multiplayer is that the new players always tend to select allies, which occasionally leaves the axis team heavily outnumbered, sometimes making auto team select a must

    in the end, i woulda given the game a rating of 8, only becuz the singleplayer really isnt that good

  15. I think you pretty much summed up everything that is wrong with this game, but I still had fun.

    I'm looking forward to trying out the multiplayer

  16. @Dave: You know, I still haven't put much time into COD3 multiplayer. In fact, I haven't touched it in months.

    While I agree that my score probably would have been higher had I played online extensively before reviewing it – you have to remember why that was. Online was fully broken at the time of writing this. I literally couldn't get into a match. And for that, COD3 was essentially punished.

  17. Multiplayer works great now, there is almost no connection issues. From time to time you wont be able to join because the host has a bad connection, but you will never spend more than a minute trying to find a game in a any map, any mode, with any amount of players you want.

    I agree, the missions are kind of stupid. But you, at least I, play that once and then just play the multiplayer (which is GREAT).

    I'm addicted to this game, I love it. Its the best.

    I give it a 120%, would've been 150% if the missions were better.