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Call of Duty | review | game | Lollipop

Call of Duty

(Activision for the PC)
by Eric Johnson

The past few years have seen a ton of World War II-themed video games, many of them quite good. Tired nostalgia for mankind's last chesspiece war? Do the axis powers provide a gift-wrapped antagonist for our more complicated present? Both answers may be yes, but WWII remains the last large-scale mechanized war, fought in the absence of computers or nuclear bombs. Every machine had a man in it, men who spilled almost as much sweat and grease as they did blood, and died by the millions. So when yet another WWII-themed first-person shooter comes along promising a convincing portrayal of combat in human history's largest war, one may be tempted to blow it off and try out some over-hyped game about fighting aliens on a donut-shaped planet. You'd be makin' a big fuckin' mistake, mister!

Call of Duty is the finest FPS I've had the privilege of playing. Don't look at the box, just download the demo and you'll be sold on a game whose superficial resemblance to Medal of Honor fades away when you're dropped into some of the most intense and fully-realized battle sequences you've ever seen. Deviating from the "one man against the world" cliché, Call of Duty makes you a simple grunt in the American, British, and Russian war machine. Engagements like Stalingrad are rendered with a jawdropping chaotic immediacy that will make you understand why Grampa pisses in his pants every time he hears fireworks. You rarely fight alone, receiving shouted orders from your squad leader, you're not responsible for them, but you have a vested interest in keeping them alive. Great AI converts this simple principle into pure genius when you realize that the enemy is not always shooting at you. That's how it's supposed to work, of course, but most games turn teammates into idiotic liabilities. You also get to fire weapons using the real sights, a savory feature I'd like to see other games adopt. This is a brilliant, accessible, and entirely enjoyable game that I don't have a single complaint about. Check out the "Dawnville" demo, and loosen up those purse strings. I'm not selling you on this game, it'll sell itself.


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