Call of Duty 3 on PS3 looks and sounds so amazingly realistic that the only way you'll feel any closer to the battlefield is by travelling back in time to June 6, 1944 and running along the beach at Normandy waving a big neon sign that says 'shoot me'.
Sadly, the action doesn't deviate much from the tried and tested WWII shooter formula - you play four different characters and nationalities fighting in various parts of Europe, although there's really nothing to their stories other than killing as many Nazis as possible. The objective-led gameplay means it's as linear as they come, and it's got to the point now where we've played so many similar games that we can anticipate scripted events and ambushes with ease.
Still, it's worth pointing out that the predictibility doesn't mean that you won't feel the intensity of battle and the bitter taste of panic in your throat throughout.
Every mission plays out on a far larger scale than you're used to, so while before you might have been pinned down by a handful of enemies on your lonesome, now you'll be hemmed in by entire squads of infantry and artillery and supported by your own tanks, troops and bombers flying overhead. Add to this a constant haze of smoke and debris, and a few surprise moments when you have to use the Sixaxis controller to shake off an enemy who's trying to throttle you with his gun. Every war shooter can claim to have recreated Saving Private Ryan's nerve-jangling opening, but Call of Duty 3 is the closest to getting it spot-on.
Take the fight online and things become even more intense. In team games you choose a solider class from a list that includes medic and anti-tank options, giving everyone a key role to play when both sides have a specific objective to complete. Your team will need to balance out its roles and work together to be successful, which is pretty rare in the selfish world of online shooters.
What you have here is a classic Call of Duty game, stubbornly sticking to the well-worn template and format of the previous two titles in the series, but making it all bigger and slicker so you get totally sucked in. Overall, it makes a welcome counterpoint to the no-brainer sci-fi of Resistance: Fall of Man.
Consistently thrilling and involving, but it lacks the balls to take any risks with a rigid formula.
- Intensely atmospheric throughout
- Mostly thrilling missions
- Beefy online play
- Seen it all before