Call of Duty 3
21st Nov 2006 | 16:55
We all know the Wii version of Call of Duty 3 isn't going to sport the ultra-real next-gen graphics of the 360 and PS3 versions so let's not dwell on that. The factor here is that it brings a new motion-controlled mechanic to the game, and it works brilliantly.
Call of Duty 3 is, no matter the platform you play it on, essentially the same chaotic WWII shooting affair of the previous games in the series.
You'll find yourself caught up in some of the most intense gun fights in videogames; bullets and explosions all around you, planes roaring overhead and the sound of a few dozen - or, in some cases, a few hundred - men all hollering as they kill or get killed. Anyone who has played a CoD game will know what to expect - an adrenalin-charged rush from start to finish.
With an experience this intense, and with so many targets to shoot at any one time, a good control system is absolutely critical and this is where the Wii version comes into its own.
Using a similar system to Red Steel, you strafe with the analogue stick on the Nunchuk while using the Remote like a pointer to control the aim of your reticule and your look view.
The further towards the outer edge of the screen you aim the pointer, the faster your view scrolls in that direction. This may sound identical to Red Steel, but it's not. As you will have read in our Red Steel review, Ubisoft has made the neutral zone (the area in the centre of the screen where the cursor can be pointed without affecting the camera) really large.
This means that the reticule has to be pointed right to the outer edge of the screen before you get a response from the camera, at which point the response is abrupt. The result is a messy control system that feels like you're dragging a lazy camera into position as you move the reticule around the extremes of the screen to make even the slightest view adjustments.
The lack of such a neutral zone CoD3 means that, while you can still move your pointer around the screen, the camera will respond to the slightest off-centre aim. This gives you a far more responsive and natural control system.
When all is calm you can make very subtle aim adjustments with the Remote to make your camera move slowly and smoothly around, as you strafe round corners and look out for enemies in the surrounding buildings. But when the action kicks off and two enemies, for example, burst into sight on the outer edge of the screen, you can immediately whip your aim over to them and shoot them as quickly as your own skill level allows - a little like a mouse and keyboard-controlled FPS.
And the camera will respond to your sudden aim adjustment, quickly scrolling in that direction which pulls your enemies into the centre of your screen. It feels so natural that the Wii Remote quickly becomes the transparent link between your hand and the on-screen gun, and delivers a hands-on, visceral feel that is impossible with a dual analogue controller. And more accurate, too.
CoD3 makes some of the best use of the Wii Remote in any Wii game so far. During gun fights, you can tilt the controller left or right to make your character lean; suddenly a function we rarely tend to use on PC, because of its awkwardness, becomes so easy to do on Wii. Shoving the Remote forward does a melee attack, and you can reload by flicking the Nunchuk upwards.
You will encounter driving sections that have you holding the Nunchuk and Remote vertically, and twisting them left and right to steer the jeep as you race down rural mud paths and through towns, dodging bullets, mines and various obstacles. You will find yourself using the Remote like an oar to make your on-screen soldier paddle the his boat across a river.
You'll even be pushing and swinging the Remote in a number of ways to win the occasional wrestle with enemy guards - a new feature in the CoD series - although these parts are not that great. You just shake the controller like a lunatic as indicated by on-screen diagrams and wait for the fight to end. It can be tiring and isn't even slightly engaging.
But that is one of few faults with the single-player mode which is, just as we expected, fantastic. The Halo-style recharging health makes a welcome return, and with new partly destructible scenery, ducking away from enemy fire is a more intense struggle.
In one level you are faced with a dangerous sprint down a pathway that's being overlooked by an enemy tank in a nearby field. A small wall is all that comes between you and the violently explosive cannon shells, which completely obliterates sections of the wall as you scramble alongside it with your head down.
The scenery doesn't look all that bad on Wii, either. The level layouts and majority of the scenery within these levels are the same as the 360 and PS3 versions, albeit lacking high-res textures, individual blades of grass and all that stuff. The explosions and smoke effects are still intense on Wii, too.
The only greatly-felt drawbacks of the Wii version is the lack of full 5.1 digital surround which, on the 360 version, is absolutely mind-blowing. And there also seems to be slightly fewer soldiers in the more chaotic gun battles, although not to the extent that the game looses its intensity - even Big Red One on GameCube packed crazy numbers of soldiers so don't worry too much.
But the most disappointing omission from the Wii version is the multiplayer support. CoD2 on 360 had an awesome multiplayer mode (after they fixed the bugs) and CoD3 has an even better one - but not on Wii. Failing to include any multiplayer support at all - even offline - is a huge injustice for Wii owners.
But Call of Duty 3 is, even without multiplayer, undoubtedly a better game than Red Steel mostly thanks to its greatly superior controls, more varied gameplay, better AI and constantly more intense action from start to finish. The lack of multiplayer stops it from getting a 9, but consider its score to be the highest kind of 8 there is.